Thursday, August 17, 2017

Have You Sold Your Freedom For Push Notifications?

While technology seemingly empowers us to do more, be connected and take control of our lives, it’s doing exactly the opposite. Demanding apps thrust notifications into our face and take control of us, says Rajasekar KS.
Like aliens invading my private space in the dark of the night, push notifications are violating my right to a peaceful moment. Damn it! Can’t even have a peaceful nap on a Sunday afternoon without these sneaky invaders.
While Facebook notifications range from the silly, “It’s been 7 days since you posted something” to the scary “Rahul and Tina” marked themselves safe during the downpour in Mumbai, ecommerce notifications from Flipkart, Amazon, Swiggy can range from, “it’s India-Pak match, have you ordered your snacks for the show” to “Your favourite Red Tape shoes on sale. 10% off only for the next 2 minutes.” Imagine the roller-coaster emotions one goes when one gets these notifications in the midst of work or while driving.
While marketers are on the overdrive pushing notifications left, right and centre, the average user is beginning to feel annoyed at the attention-grabbing technique. Distracting users at work with endless notifications that occupy the screen of their private space can be very disturbing. Research has proven that notifications cause ‘ADHD-type-like-symptoms” and take a toll on our productivity and our ability to take decisions.
The distraction is so deadly that many users report that they hear a beep but don’t see any notification on checking the phone. Studies point that these distractions hamper performance of the task on hand, even when users ignored the notification. In 2016, Localytics, the leading mobile engagement platform, found in a study that 52% feel notifications annoy them. Even Apple acknowledged that people find it tiring and distracting to pull out phones from their pocket every time there’s an alert, and so had users turn their wrist to see any notifications on the watch.
With artificial intelligence, analytics and algorithms arming the marketers with up-to-the-minute intelligence on the consumer’s location, activity and behaviour, it’s just a matter of time before it gets worse. In the search for profits, the old “permission marketing” principles have been forgotten.
What action could you take? Turn off these notifications on the individual apps.
Done that and yet getting one more missile slide by begging for attention. The culprit is the “Allow peeking” feature in each of your apps. Open app notifications on any of your apps and you’ll see: “let this app emphasize certain notifications by sliding them briefly into view on the current screen” or “Treat as priority” which says: Let this app’s notifications when Do Not Disturb is set to Priority only.
If brands don’t get the message, timing and frequency right, push notifications can result in customers deleting apps, missing out important notifications and a very bad consumer experience.
I’ve just turned off the notifications on all my apps. It took be many minutes but is worth the time spent. I now suddenly seem to have freed up a lot of time from the shackles of the annoying notifications.
This article was first published in the Economic Times

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why TOI, HT & The Hindu Must Grab This New Facebook Opportunity To Stay Relevant on Digital

After two years of its launch, Facebook’s talk of a subscription plan on Instant Articles has provided the much needed hope for publishers worldwide. It says that users will be able to subscribe to news and magazine publishers from its app the end of the year.
This development comes a week after the US congress was petitioned for “an anti-trust exemption to negotiate collectively with large platforms, specifically Facebook and Alphabet's Google.” The News Media Alliance which spearheaded this move charges that Facebook and Google benefit from the hard work of newspapers without fairly compensating publishers.
Facebook along with Google controls almost half of the global digital spend and with users clocking most of their time on their platforms, and this has made them gatekeepers of information. The publisher’s complaint against Google is that the search giant hurts them in search if they do not allow a “free article read” on first click. Many who didn’t allow the free first article have seen a drop of 70 to 90% in referral traffic from Google.
Instant Articles are said to drive 20 to 50% more traffic than hits to the publishers’ mobile site. Instant Articles are somewhat like Google’s AMP, serving lighter and faster. According to Facebook , over 10,000 publishers are now using Instant Articles, and more than a third of all clicks to articles on Facebook are to Instant Articles.
Facebook denied that it’s algorithm favours Instant Articles to publishers own links. Users seem to be keen to stay within Facebook and the consumption of news decides the content that shows up on newsfeed. It’s executives though have indicated that the frequency of Instant Articles (by a publisher) determines it’s display in newsfeed. A cue for publishers to upload more content on Instant Articles.
New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, HBR have all been struggling to monetise their traffic. But the paywall doesn’t seem to be doing wonders with readers somehow believing that digital is free. And with Facebook Instant Articles keeping users within its own network, publishers were shy to go there, infact many pulled out citing drop in traffic to their own sites.
But, there’s so hope now, with Facebook announcing that a paywall can be added by publishers who need to give first 10 articles free and then give users option to subscribe. While it offers an opportunity for publishers to monetise their content, it’s also an acknowledgement that Facebook values the partnership with publishers.
It has also offered a deep dive for publishers to, “measure Instant Articles' impact on referral traffic from Facebook. The tool will be available to publishers who have published enough Instant Articles and mobile web versions to measure the difference”.
It’s not yet clear how they’ll charge users. Publishers say they also want first party data that comes with subscription since it helps personalise the content and offers. 
Rajasekar KS is a speaker, writer and #SocialMedia & content strategist. He was listed among Top 100 #Marketing Leaders India '16 by the World Marketing Congress. He writes in #EconomicTimes #BusinessWorld  #BusinessLine  Currently works as GM - Marketing @bharatmatrimony and tweets @PositiveMantra

Friday, May 12, 2017

What Can Marketers Learn From Mothers?

pic: Getty Images
With Mother’s day round the corner, there’s so much that organisations can learn and adapt from mothers when it comes to delivering better experiences for customers. Are we open to it is the question?

Personalisation for Family
Mothers provide experiences that are aligned to each child’s preferences, mood and needs. Her interactions are meaningful because it’s based data - lifetime behaviour, experiences and understanding of her interactions with you. She knows what’s going on in your mind with a sheer glance into your eyes. And quickly moves to give you the warmth and love you need and sits down with you to understand your pain. Of course, she also does recommend a way to resolve your problem. And she does all this because she loves you and looks forward to no obligations in return.

Kids are the Centre of Her Universe
From when she wakes to the time she switches off the bedroom lights at night, all this superwoman does is make the family comfortable and happy. She thinks about them all the time. What delicious dinner can I make, evening snacks to make for the kids, clothes to press for the spouse… the family is the heart of her home, even though many mothers have the dual role of a career outside.

She Takes Responsibility
When mom is around, the buck stops with her. Her perseverance is the stuff legends are made of. She gladly takes on extra load and creatively improves her culinary and home d├ęcor skills. Although she goes to work, she never has an excuse for not doing something, not does she blame anyone for her lapses. She fixes it all by herself. 

Understanding the People at Home
Mothers love their family unconditionally and make it a mission to make life beautiful for the people around them. She has time for everyone, even though it’s tough at times. She listens. She Understands. She cares. 

KS Rajasekar is Speaker. Writer. #SocialMedia & content strategist. Recognised Among Top 100 #Marketing Leaders 2016 by World Marketing Congress. He writes in #EconomicTimesTech #BusinessWorld #BusinessLine 

You may enjoy reading this

First published here

Monday, March 13, 2017

How Technology Makes us Trust Strangers

Trust is a high-value currency that applies very well to the online world. From a physical store to a toll-free support line to a verified page to a Verisign or TRUSTe symbol, to user reviews to support for good causes – each one of them creates trust in the user. After the internet era, we seem to have developed almost absolute trust in online.

In recent years, that faith is getting extended to services that begin online and are fulfilled offline by strangers – the ride sharing, the product and food deliveries, the room-sharing and such.

What has really changed? In the real world we trust people and organisations based on the reputation of the brand, our knowledge, past experiences and social influences. The same has extended online, although a bit differently. People believe online services are trustworthy. We also trust the notion that ride-sharing, room-sharing or placing money in online wallets is safe. We believe the platform is built to be safe and secure and that it has proper mechanisms for speedy resolution in case of disputes. We also trust the person who delivers it (the cabbie, the matchmaking company, the food delivery person, the host on Airbnb).

What could be the reasons we trust strangers? The benefits and convenience offered by the service override any rational concerns we may harbour. There seems to be a sense of obligation too, because you can choose to pay in cash for the goods ordered on Flipkart or Amazon, you pay Ola or Uber online after you’ve taken the ride. Because they trust us to pay after delivery, we tend to reciprocate.

Humans behave and reward differently when they’re trusted. The peanut seller’s story is a classic case. A peanut seller outside a busy IT park always had a long queue of customers. His peanut were tasty, but that’s not why. He just packed the stuff but never handled the money. Next to him on a table was a box that had paper currency and change. People had to drop the money and pick up the right change themselves, based on their purchases. Every day he got 20 per cent of his sales as tips. The reason: When people were trusted to tender the money for the product purchased, they repaid the trust generously with tips. Yes, there’s the fundamental reason too – the trust in people doesn’t seem to have altered at all in our society.

The speed at which we trust has been forever altered by technology which seems to have persuaded us with the sheer convenience and benefits it offers.

However, when a stranger rings our doorbell we’re not going to be relaxing our trust norms, simply because we don’t have anything trustworthy to relate to the stranger and we have seen and read quite a bit about crimes and thefts at homes. The dichotomy of behaviour will continue to exist. The question, though, is whether this will change in the long run?

What does all this mean to marketers? It simply means that they need to create trust by using cues relevant to them. While a 10-day full-refund guarantee may work for Flipkarts and Amazons, a simple mobile-verified profile may work for matchmaking companies such as BharatMatrimony, brick-and-mortar presence may work for some, visual clues like ‘1 per cent of your payment goes for CRY’ might work for others and Verisign secure payment can suit some businesses. What works for you?

Rajasekar KS is a speaker, writer and social media strategist who works as GM – Marketing at BharatMatrimony. Views are personal. His article was originally published here

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How technology disrupts human behaviour

Some new technologies make a significant impact on our culture. When mobile phones arrived, it changed the way people interacted with each other.
But the internet, social and apps have impacted in bizarre ways that confounds even sociologists. Here are some changes that surprise and sometimes scare us.

Sharing our homes with strangers
While, as children, we were told not to speak to strangers, today, we find young girls with seeming nonchalance share their Ola and Uber cab rides with complete strangers. And they don’t seem to have any complaints.
On Airbnb, we rent a part of our home to total strangers. Even all-women families let out a room to unknown people, on daily rent and even serve meals for a fee.
Not long ago, we treated anyone who rang our doorbell with caution. But now thanks to OLX and Quikr, strangers visit our homes, check out living rooms and even have a coffee before buying our stuff. Strangers have come a long way, thanks to digital changing the way we “trust” people.

Losing the moment for the memories
Whether it’s a restaurant or a visit to a hill station, people are keen to take pictures to share on WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. The truth is - the experience of the moment is lost. Instead of seeing the world through our eyes, we’re doing it through the lens. Instead of enjoying the moment with the people around us, we seem to be seeking elusive happiness in a virtual world.

Lonely in a connected world
When the family is out for dinner, members are animatedly snapping pictures for social sharing, furtive glances are exchanged but hardly any conversation.
The silence is torturous. The whole scene seems bizarre. We know more about where our friends dine during the weekend and less about what our family likes.
The social compulsion to keep up with what’s happening online with our friends and family is detaching us from real world relationships.
The phones have led to a visible decrease in the outdoor activities and real world interaction of children. The bedroom culture where kids have access to various devices has led to the privatisation and individualisation of family life.

Buying online like crazy
Our buying habits have drastically changed in the recent past. While in the real world, we take time to consider a purchase, on Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal we don’t bat an eyelid while ordering goods worth thousands of rupees.
There’s a huge difference in user behaviour on the app and website. There is a sense of urgency that mobile apps impart on the new path to purchase. Users spend less time evaluating stuff on an app vs the offline world.
We tend to do think faster and think less when on an app. It’s easier to sway such a user with extra discounts. The flash sales and the one-hour deals are baits to keep users hooked to the app.
The audience is a bit captive here with dedicated viewing and no comparison options. The convenience of mobile devices and availability of internet 24X7 has shaped new consumer buying habits.

Short attention spans
It’s a fact that our attentions spans have become shorter over the past decade, the multiplicity of mediums being a culprit. Since the medium of news consumption is going the digital way, the size of devices make it difficult to read for long and consequently, have contributed to changing our reading habits permanently.
We scan news, we don’t read them any longer. The book stores and private libraries that dotted our local landscape have long disappeared while the iPads, Kindles and iPhones have taken over.

While these rapid changes happen right under our nose, we’re oblivious to the potential privacy and personal data risks that we could encounter soon. The way we view our privacy offline is completely varied with online privacy, although the trace we leave on social networks is permanent.
Our notions of privacy and confidentiality have undergone drastic changes.
One thing is sure, privacy may in future may well become a major issue for governments and the people. We have a need for strong policies and frameworks to protect our privacy and personal data, the sooner the better.

Until then, I’m accepting all the terms and conditions on my Bla Bla app.
Rajasekar KS' article was originally published in The Economic Times here

Friday, February 10, 2017

Why we should love what we do… to achieve more than we think we can

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. What really happens when we fall in love with something or someone… if only you knew you it, you’d fall in love right away.

We’re driven by the love
When we love what we do, we’re energised and find meaning that anchors us. We’re connected to the purpose which drives us forward. We look forward to the challenge every day because we’ve chosen it out of sheer love. We don’t shirk the hurdles.

We don’t find excuses
To procrastinate. The devil called “resistance” never builds up inside our heads ‘cause we’re looking to ride into the storm and steer the ship forward. Because we know nothing other than do the thing we love. Like Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni and Virat Kohli, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt get up every morning and think nothing other than their game, we also get up and look forward to doing the thing we’re passionate about. We simply offer no excuses for not doing it.  

Responsibility for success lies on us
When we are passionate about something and make a choice to do it we know that we are accountable for our actions. Success, even failure rests squarely on us. Therefore, we’re driven to our goal. Just do it and the joy of the journey will keep us happy. You started it, therefore you’ll finish it.

Love raises the state of the being
The moment we fall in love (with someone or something), the self is at an exalted state of being. The energy, confidence, courage that stems from it defies logic, and sometimes us too. One needs to be in love to feel this aura.

Love is a great feeling
We humans are driven by emotions and nothing drives the world forward than love. The feeling of love is the most powerful one. Fall in love and you’ll find yourself doing things you never imagined.

I’m in love with what I do. Are you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why Flipkart and Amazon Offer Extra Discounts on the App

pic: offersbiz

Ever wondered why the Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal offer extra discounts for purchases on the app? Let’s unravel the mystery.

There’s a huge difference in user behaviour on the app and website. There is a sense of urgency that mobile apps impart on the new path to purchase. Users spend less time evaluating stuff on an app Vs the website. When one’s on an app, we tend to think and do things faster and think less when on an app. It’s easier to sway such a user with extra discounts.

And app users compared to website users, it has been proven, take lesser time to decide whether they want a product or not. So conversions are superior. According to Criteo’s Q4 2015 State of Mobile Commerce Report, which is based on a global analysis of 1.4 billion online transactions, app-conversion rates were 120 percent higher than mobile browser conversions and higher than desktop conversions, as well.

No comparisons on app
Wait! There’s more to it. Unlike an app which is standalone, the user on a website is prone to do comparison with a quick “control N” on the keyboard. So apps cut out comparisons and in some ways the real time price cuts that happen on shopping sites.

More focus on buying
Due to the smaller size of device screens, there’s better focus on the product and lesser distraction on the app. Whereas on the website, the email notifications, the hyperlinks, videos, images are all distracting our attention. On the app, user attention is better and consequently the purchase.

Cost-effective pull mechanisms
Not to forget, the app notifications make it a low-cost affair to push messages to the users. The click rates on an app notification unlike emails (where’s there’s a clutter with many mails screaming for attention) is high. Notifications can be pushed at the right time when the sale is on, converting much better than other sources.

Always on
The availability of the mobile devices 24X7 with users is of course very enticing for ecommerce sites, who’d like to create new consumer buying habits by offering extra discounts on the app.

Tapping a human behaviour
The rewards (extra discounts etc) that apps offer conform to Skinner’s behaviourism, which explains that human behaviour is a function of incentives and rewards.

Convenience is the key to success
Not just that, it turns out that users find it more convenient to buy on an app. They can do it wherever they are. The storage of payment information and the quick checkouts prods the user to action also helps.

Research also proves that users who shop on mobile seems to be more open to try new retailers and brands and Supershoppers love the abundance of options on an app.

The advantages of personalisation
Apps allow ecommerce brands to study user behaviour, mine better insights and offer relevant products thereby increasing the conversion. Apps also provide a deeper engagement with the brand and build loyalty when compared to usage of a website. The scope for personalisation is very high on apps.

Now or never hooks
The flash sales and the one-hour deals on apps are baits to keep users hooked to the app. The audience is a bit captive here with dedicated viewing and no comparison options. The usability and experience can be controlled very well.

Hey, I have to stop here as I’ve got the “deal of day” notification on my Flipkart app. See ya and Happy shopping!