Erratic is now Ten 23 Media

Erratic is now Ten 23 Media.

Ten 23 Media offers consulting and planning services for small businesses and online start-ups. We can help with media, marketing, advertising, branding, design, SEO, eCommerce and much more. If you’re starting a new small online company, contact us today!

Our new Ten 23 Media blog will continue where Erratic left off. We’ll provide helpful information, along with the occasional opinionated information on all the topics above.

Follow Ten 23 Media on Twitter.

 

 

Valentines Day 2011 ~ the day 1800Flowers doesn’t deliver and loses me and thousands of others as a customer

Valentines day.  A day most women expect flowers from their husbands and boy friends. Some men procrastinate and wait until the last minute. Others like me don’t. I ordered flowers and candy from @1800flowers more than a week before Valentines day. I know that V-day is an extremely busy day for flower delivery. You would think ordering a week before and ordering with a company like 1800Flowers would be a safe bet. That thought would be wrong!

My wife did not get her flowers on V-day and as of now 9 am the day after V-day, they still had not arrived.

I woke up to the following email:

Hi,

As you can imagine, our florists are out delivering Valentine’s flowers and smiles across the nation. They’ll be doing so all day and night and your delivery may have already arrived or is on its way. Because our florists are so busy making deliveries, we may not be able to offer you a delivery confirmation or status update on your gift until later today or possibly tomorrow.

As soon as we hear your delivery’s on its way or has arrived, we’ll be sure to let you know.

You can always receive the most up to date information on your order by tracking it here: Order Tracking

Thanks for your patience and understanding — and as always, thanks for trusting us to deliver smiles for you.

Bibi Brown
Director of Customer Experience

Bibi, really! You think this is a satisfactory email to send out to people! You think this will please customers like me who are pissed off that their orders were not delivered on the day they’re suppose to be delivered.  An email like this is nothing but a really lame attempt at getting customers off your back. I’d rather it say “our service sucks, but there’s nothing we can really do about it”. At least that would be honest.

After reading this email, along with having 2 of my last 3 orders with 1800Flowers have some type of problem, I thought to myself… “that’s it with 1800Flowers. They’ve lost me as a customer”. I decided to cancel my order and attempt to get a full refund. First try was the phone. After going through the phone options, I get some type of automated message saying they’re too busy to answer more calls. 2nd phone attempt was picking a phone option as if I wanted to change my order. This got me through to a holding queue. Meanwhile I head over to @1800flowers on Twitter. Sure enough, there were hundreads of tweets being made all dealing with problems like mine.

I waited on hold for 30 minutes, while I was tweeting out complaints to @1800flowers. After 30 minutes, I got someone in customer service who I told about the non-delivery and supposedly got a full refund with the order being cancelled. It will be interesting to see if the credit is actually placed back to my credit card.

So that’s how 1800Flowers lost me as a customer. And looking through a Twitter search for 1800flowers, I can see they’ll be thousand of other customers like me who will never be using them again.

If I could give one bit of advice to 1800Flowers it would simply be, stop taking orders when you reach a saturation point. By continuing to take orders beyond the level that you can fill them does more damage to your company than you can every imagine.

And Bibi, emails like the one you sent do nothing but enrage most people. In this day and time, it’s all about transparency. Be honest and send an email acknowledging that too many orders were taken and could not be successfully fulfilled. Apologize and let people know that you’ll be making changes so that it doesn’t happen again.

Even though an email like this won’t change my mind (I’m still never using 1800Flowers again), it may prevent people like me front ranting about it in a blog.

And as a side not about @1800Flowers on Twitter. Heather, on their Twitter account had sent me a tweet saying DM her with my information and she’ll try to help. It’s been almost an hour since I sent her a DM and as of now have not gotten a response. It’s will be interesting to see if I ever get one, or if they just send out tweets to look like they’re trying to help.

Google Remarketing on the Google Display Network

A few weeks back I had visited a site to buy something but then abandoned my cart. I started looking around at other sites that were in one way or another showing or discussing the same type of products. I noticed a display ad from the first site I visited (the one I abandoned the cart at). Then I noticed the display ad again and again. This thing was following me.

The last time I noticed this happen I thought it was just good targeting on the part of the advertiser. And I’m referring to the targeting where the advertiser picks the sites. Then a few days ago I had read this article from Practical eCommerce, titled Remarketing 101, Part 1: Targeted Banner Ads.

Wow, Remarketing on the Google Display Network… how did I miss this. As always Practical eCommerce delivers the best!

I immediately went to work at setting this up for my eCommerce site. What a really cool and super useful tool/feature from Google this is.

If you’re unfamiliar with Google’s Remarketing it basically works like this.

1. A visitor visits your site and gets tagged (with a cookie).

2. They visit other sites related to your topic and get served with ads that you set up to try and bring them back to yours.

3. They see your ad over and over again and with a good display ad you should get repeat visits.

You set up Remarketing by using what are called Audiences. You can set up several types of audiences and then include or exclude them for targeting.

My first Remarketing set up does the following. One audience includes visitors to my eCommerce site that look at my products. A second audience includes visitors that actually make a purchase. Then I create a remarketing campaign that includes audience 1, but excludes audience 2 (which are visitors who purchased). I then set up display ads which specifically target these visitors with a tempting coupon to get them back and make a purchase.

I’m really looking forward to viewing the results.

Google Remarketing is brilliant!

Here’s a video that I had also found when searching around on Google Remarketing. It’s a helpful video done by Exclusive Concepts. It walks you through the setup like I did for my eCommerce store.

Scotch Pop-Up Tape Dispenser – why haven’t I bought this before now?

Ran out of tape this morning so I headed to Office Depot. When looking at all the different types of tape that are available, the Scotch Pop-Up tape dispenser caught my attention. I bought one and man do I feel like an idiot for not having bought this before now. Up until today I still had a roll dispenser on my desk.

This pop-up dispenser is design perfection. It can slide around on your desk with ease but when you pull up to get a piece of tape the dispenser sticks to the desk. There’s a very thin membrane on the bottom side that slides, but also acts as a suction cup. The pieces of tape that are dispensed are the perfect length too.

Why didn’t I see or buy one of these before now? Great product Scotch!

The unhappy and unappeasable customer – how do you like to handle them?

If you’ve owned a business, you’ve had them. The customer that is unhappy and no matter what you do you can’t appease them. It doesn’t matter what method you take and what you offer them… they will not be satisfied.

How’s the best way to handle this type of customer?

My first business was a brick and mortar store. I provided a service to the wealthy. 99.99 % of my customers were happy for the entire 10 years I was in business. However, I did have the occasional customer that just couldn’t be made happy. I would correct the mistake, provide exceptional customer service, refund the entire fee that was paid and followed up in a professional and polite manner. Didn’t matter. The customer would still walk away unsatisfied.

My second business was online. It was strictly affiliate marketing so I didn’t have an actual product that I sold… other than the site and information I provided. I still got the occasional email from someone who didn’t like a product I was marketing, but the job of satisfying the customer was on the merchant who sold the product. I would direct the customer to the correct merchant and be done.

My third and current online business sells products that I have manufactured. I stand behind the products and give a lifetime warranty. Occasionally however, there will be a small defect with a product that gets by us. When this does happen, I pay all the shipping (both ways) and overnight a new replacement product to the customer. As with most customers, when a problem is handled correctly by a company the customer is satisfied.

Look out though, sometimes it doesn’t work this way.

I think that with some customers when they have a problem with their first order it doesn’t matter what is done to correct the problem. They will always have a problem with the company that sold the product.

This recently happened to my online business. A product went out that had a very small imperfection; the customer complained; I sent a replacement, paid shipping and refunded the purchase… and the customer still found a problem with the replacement. The replacement was perfect. I know because I inspected it before it shipped.

This is one of those tough situations. I think after the customer was upset about the first product that it didn’t matter what was done. They were going to find a problem with anything and everything. Maybe not intentionally, but subconsciously.

So what’s the best way to handle customers like this?  In my opinion you simply cut off the problem as quick and politely as possible. You cannot please everyone. More harm may be done by dragging things out. Take the hit, cut your losses and run. That’s my opinion. What’s yours?

What motivates you?

Last night I couldn’t sleep. Too many things turning in my head… finishing a bathroom remodel project that I started, starting a new website idea that I have brewing in my mind, switching hosts for another site, holiday marketing ideas for my eCommerce site. Overload like this causes sleepless nights.

I occasionally get really motivated and when I do, these overloaded thoughts start occurring. Something small triggers it and then I end up going full throttle on all the other ideas that have been sitting on the back-burner.

This time what triggered it was a clogged toilet.  My daughter flushed the toilet and it overflowed onto our hardwood floor. To prevent a smell from occurring in a week or two I knew the floor had to come up to get dried. On top of that my wife has been wanting to remodel the bathroom for months. She keeps asking me when I’m going to do it and I kept putting it off. I figured if the floor has to come up, now is the time to remodel. So this motivation came from me preventing more work for myself down the road… a smelly floor.

With eye’s wide open last night, I started thinking… what motivates me? What causes me to start a project I’ve been putting off? These motivational spurts I get occasionally usually end up being very productive. So I thought I’d list my motivational factors down and see if I can keep them in foreground. If I keep them active, I should keep progress going… at least in theory, right? I’ll see.

Here’s what motivates me:

  1. Preventing more work for myself in the future by getting something done now.
  2. Money — it’s probably on top of everyone’s list
  3. My daughters. They always motivate me to do more… usually because they need or want more :-)
  4. The thrill of building, creating and seeing a finalized project.
  5. Solving problems. This also goes back to #3. I like building and creating (products, websites) because this building process creates problems. Solving those problems is enjoyable to me. Sounds strange when I see it written down like this, but it’s what keeps me creating.
  6. Recognition — not a real big motivator to me, but it is on my list

What motivates you?

Think about it — write it down. Sometimes just writing things down helps put them in a whole new light.

Comment below and let me know your big motivators.

Twitter tip for businesses… talk about non-business too!

I have several Twitter accounts. @erraticblog for this blog, a 2nd account for another blog I own and a 3rd for my eCommerce site.  Anyone who follows this blog knows that I blog semi-anonymously here.  It allows me to be more open (probably so I can occasionally rant about things :-) ), more helpful, and have a blog and Twitter account that’s clearly not promoting my eCommerce site.

My eCommerce Twitter account is used to promote my website and products. Although I tweet/promote my products and news about my company,  one thing I’ve very careful about is also tweeting about non-business related topics, news, thoughts, and opinions.

I follow all of my competitors on Twitter. Most are good about tweeting about non-business, but some are not. There are several of my competitors that only tweet about their products and their company. They constantly pat themselves on the back, praising themselves and how good “they” think their products are. It’s extremely annoying– to the point I’d like to unfollow them, but I don’t. I have to watch the competition as any business owner knows.

What I don’t get is why they think it’s smart to only tweet about their company. All the social media pros say it’s a bad idea. Followers get sick of it. They lose interest. There has to be some human side to tweeting that doesn’t relate to the company.

So if you’re a business, take the suggestions of the social media pros… talk/tweet about non-business too!

Here are some great articles on using Twitter for business.

Links for 10/22/2010

Shopping comparison sites (Nextag, Shopzilla, Pricegrabber, etc) holiday rate increase… do you think it’s justified?

If you advertise your products on shopping comparison sites like Nextag, PriceGrabber and Shopzilla, you know what time of year it is. Holiday rate increase time.

By now you should have gotten the typical/yearly email such as these:

From Nextag:

The holiday season is around the corner and we would like to inform you that NexTag will be increasing your costs per click by 25% for all categories and all bids effective November 1, 2010 through January 4, 2011.

This change will affect all your clicks from NexTag. For example, if you have a bid of $0.60 per click, you will be charged a fee of $0.75 per click during this seasonal period. Your actual costs per click will be accurately reflected on your cost reports, but the bids will be displayed in the bidding tools without the 25% included until January 5, 2011.

NexTag realizes that you spend considerable effort throughout the year optimizing your campaign and that during the holiday season your bidding strategy changes. As a courtesy, effective January 5, 2011 NexTag will automatically reset rates on your behalf to your October 15, 2010 bids. If you want to adjust your bids, you can login to your account and make any changes using the “Manage Bids by Category” or “Manage Bids by Product” tools in your account dashboard on or after January 5, 2011.

During the holiday season, clicks from NexTag typically convert the best of the calendar year and we are adjusting your rates based on the additional value we bring to your marketing efforts.

Thank you for your business and have a great holiday shopping season!

From PriceGrabber:

Effective November 1, 2010, PriceGrabber will apply a temporary 25% cost per click increase adjustment across all subcategories. This holiday adjustment is temporary and will go through January 15, 2011. Past holiday seasons have shown increased performance in terms of both traffic and conversion to sale. Hence, customer acquisition costs are expected to stay consistent with previous periods going into and throughout the holiday season. Additionally, the holiday CPC adjustment is created to offset rising costs to bring you the most qualified shopper during this period.

Please note this adjustment will take place on November 1st without any required action on your part. You will be able to view these changes in your merchant login on Monday, October 18th. We appreciate your partnership and look forward to this holiday season! Please do not hesitate to contact your PriceGrabber representative. You are welcome to reply to this e-mail and it will be directed to the appropriate PriceGrabber representative.

From Shopzilla:

The holiday shopping season is nearly here and we want to inform you of Shopzilla’s temporary seasonal bid increases applicable in select categories. This change is effective November 15, 2010 through December 27, 2010 and reflects the increased consumer buying activity that occurs during the holiday shopping season.

In our continuing efforts to ensure our rates parallel the performance of the leads we deliver, seasonal trends, and industry developments, we are adjusting rates for only a select number of categories. From November 15 through December 27, 2010 we will adjust the cost per lead in each category by 0%, 10%, 20%, or 30%. Download our holiday rate table to review the category specific adjustments. Rate adjustments apply to all accounts in all categories with active bids.

We are committed to helping you maximize your sales during the 2010 holiday season. If you have any questions, please contact your Shopzilla Account Manager.

Every year I get these emails and every year I get frustrated by reading through them.

Nextag has always been my best converting shopping comparison site and thankfully they fill their email with the least about of BS. They simply say:

During the holiday season, clicks from NexTag typically convert the best of the calendar year and we are adjusting your rates based on the additional value we bring to your marketing efforts.

True.. they bring value, but do I like their increase, NO! Increase justified… Maybe.

PriceGrabber states:

…the holiday CPC adjustment is created to offset rising costs to bring you the most qualified shopper during this period.

Do they really do anything different during the holiday to increase their costs? I’m sure they make some big pushes and efforts for their really large advertisers, but for most small businesses/advertisers I don’t think they do much extra. Increase justified in my mind… NO!

Shopzilla states:

In our continuing efforts to ensure our rates parallel the performance of the leads we deliver, seasonal trends, and industry developments, we are adjusting rates for only a select number of categories.

To parallel the performance of the leads they deliver, seasonal trends and industry developments… who writes this crap! Increase justified… No and maybe. They do convert well, but I never seen them do much extra during the holiday period.

So overall do I think the increase is justified. No. I think they’re just holding merchants/advertisers hostage during this time because they can. I’d rather them send an email saying they want to make more during the holiday so we’re going to stick it to you during this time of the year. IMO, the email would at least be honest this way :-)

Starting a new business? Don’t wait for everything to be perfect… Go for it now!

I’ve started several businesses in my life… a brick and mortar straight out of college, several affiliate websites, several blogs, a product line and an eCommerce website.  If  there is one thing I could pass on to anyone that’s starting their first business it would be… don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you go for it and open. Go for it now!

Before opening my first business and first few websites, I made the mistake of waiting for everything to be perfect. At least in my mind I thought everything was lined up correctly, every kink worked out, every bit of marketing and advertising in place. I was wrong. Even though I thought it was ready, I soon learned that running a business is extremely dynamic. You have to be very, very flexible and ready to roll with changes as the business progresses forward.

Fast forward to about 2002 or 2003. I was reading a book (unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember what it was) about marketing. There was a few short paragraphs that really made a light go off in my head. Basically, the author explained why you should never wait for a product or business to be perfect before launch. If you have a rough draft of a product, get it out there. If you have a 1st draft of a website.. publish it to the public. Got a new logo, show it off.

Time is what will perfect your product line, site and ideas. Getting feedback. Having the product get used. Getting other eyeballs on what you’re doing. These are the things that make something better.

I’m currently following a new business owner that’s making this exact mistake of waiting. She’s about to launch a product line that is somewhat similar to mine. She’s keeping the prototypes of the product a secret, the website, logo and everything else a secret. Why? There are two reasons. She wants everything to be perfect and she’s worried about copycats.

About
I'm an eCommerce merchant that writes about eCommerce, advertising, marketing, blogging, design, social media, seo, tech and other randomness. Update: Erratic is now Ten 23 Media. Visit us today!Read more »

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