There’s Only One You, So Shouldn’t You Be Your Own Password?

Are you ready for your close-up? Hoyos Labs thinks you should be, and they may just change the face of the Internet.

Use your face as your password!

What if your face was the only password you’d ever need?

Introducing 1U™, an app that gives you access to all of your favorite sites with one glance. No more frustrating password rules. No more anxious moments as you desperately try to remember the password you need right now. All the security you need (Face/Off references aside.)

Does this technology sound interesting to you? At its launch, you’ll be able to download it free for a 30-day trial (unlimited websites, devices and computers), with 1-year ($49.99) and 2-year ($79.99) packages available. Will you be checking it out?

I’m going to give it a spin. The peace of mind and freed up brain space (from not having to remember all of those ridiculous passwords) alone may be worth it.

The initial press has been solid, including an article in the New York Times. Will 1U™ be the next big thing or just another passing fad?

p.s. Want to know more? Check out this 1U™ fact sheet. Then chime in with your thoughts below.

p.p.s. A member of 1U’s p.r. team alerted me to this app’s upcoming launch, but this is not a sponsored post. I’m simply intrigued by the technology, and thought you may be too.

p.p.p.s I’m still amazed by LeVar Burton’s visor in Star Trek. Does anyone else think it was really a banana comb painted metallic?

Always a tech geek,
Jaime

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Email Overload: 4 Ways to Win the Fight

Email. It’s revolutionized the way we communicate, but it can absolutely take over your life and disrupt the best laid plans. Haven’t we all been here before?

boy covering ears

More email?! Make it stop!
“Ruído Noise” by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

When I left corporate America to start my own company, I made a major change with email. First, I got down to Inbox Zero, which was downright exhausting, and then I vowed never to get buried again. How? A Swiss Army knife, some duct tape and a paperclip.

OK, not really. Here’s how:

  1. I subscribed to Unroll.me, an email solution that combines all of your favorite subscriptions into one email. Read what you want, when you want, and don’t be overrun with all of those necessary subscriptions to online trade journals, news sites and your favorite retailers. (OK, the last one may not be ‘necessary’…)
  2. I unsubscribed en masse (which is much easier with services like Unroll.me). It’s amazing what had ended up in my inbox over a period of time. If I didn’t receive value from a newsletter subscription or brand’s emails, I cut the cord. So many companies blast you with the same specials and information you can receive via social media or other channels.
  3. Speaking of other channels, I found alternatives, such as RSS feeds, social media networks and mobile. I love subscribing to blogs via the WordPress Reader as it’s easier for me to manage. I can follow my favorite brands and companies on social media for exclusive offers, the latest specials and hot, new products and services. I receive coupons and discounts via mobile, where companies aren’t as likely to bombard you (yet).
  4. I stopped sitting in email. When I’m working, I don’t even have my email program open, let alone receive those distracting notifications that flash onto your screen (and into your peripheral vision). My clients can all contact me in a variety of ways (and do), including phone, Facebook messenger, text, Twitter DM and the like. I monitor the push notifications on my phone to stay on top of what’s happening instead of spending massive amounts of time in my inbox. Basically, I don’t use email as IM (instant messenger) and don’t expect others to either.
Alder Pond at Gorge Metro Park

This is how you’ll feel when you get your email under control.
“Peace & Serenity” // author’s personal collection


What about you? How have you battled email overload? Do you agree with my tips? 

Share YOUR tips and experience to help us all maximize the effectiveness of email and communicate more clearly!

p.s. I’m always checking out what’s popular, so I can write about what you want to hear. Here’s the most popular posts on the CCC blog during 2013:

p.s.s. On Thursday, we’re starting a special series on SEO (search engine optimization) by a guest host. Don’t miss it!

Communicating clearly since ’12,
Jaime

It’s on like Donkey Kong. Let’s connect! 
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Special Offers: Are You Engaging Customers or Just Irritating Them?

It’s that time of year! During the Holiday shopping season, companies love to entice deal-hungry consumers with special offers to grab their share of the pie.

Facebook page offers. Mobile discount codes. Coupons, special discounts or gift cards with purchases.

These promotions can be a great way to interact with fans and create ambassadors for your brand. Or you can turn off regular customers, who will instead share their negative experiences. It all depends on implementation.

Implementation? Unfortunately, this extremely important part of the marketing process often doesn’t come up in the marketing department while great ideas are being kicked around. How will your customers redeem your special offer? Will you make it easy or painful? Implementation can be the difference between your customers returning or moving on to your competitors.

Facebook Offers

Has your company experimented with Facebook offers? Have you claimed any?

Case Study 1     (Created Friction)

For example, a major retailer offered a $10 gift card if you spent $50 in the store during a 3-day span via its Facebook page. What a fun idea! Engage your customers on social media and encourage them to purchase now. Upon redeeming the offer on Facebook, I received an email to show the cashier in the store. When I checked out, I noticed that the offer didn’t automatically ring up once I eclipsed the amount needed as it has with past promotions. While showing the cashier the offer email (which she was not aware of at all), we noted that no bar code or special code was included.

The cashier had no idea how to ring up the gift card in the system and actually mentioned the email might be spam. Once I assured her that it was a valid offer from the company’s Facebook page, she directed me to the customer service desk. The two ladies there were actually aware of the offer but neither knew how to ring it up either. Finally, they offered to refund me $10 from my purchase, which I appreciated.


Case Study 2     (Created Friction)

Another leading retailer came up with the novel concept of distributing small Holiday-themed pins in its stores. Customers could pick up these pins at checkout or even stop in to pick some up without a purchase. They had fun designs, and some people really enjoy collecting little keepsakes  (or giving them to others). Each pin had a code on the back, which you had to enter at a website to see what you had won. Prizes ranged, but many were small gift certificates in the $5 – 10 range. After unveiling what you had won, your prizes (i.e. gift certificates) were emailed to you. There was fine print, of course, including that the certificates could not be combined on one order.

Of course, some people ended up collecting several pins and amassing a number of small gift certificates. When they came to the store to shop, they wanted to use all of their certificates, of course. In order to do that, many people had to pay for most of their items as separate orders. Picture this: a retail establishment already busy with the Holiday shopping crowd further slowed with customers checking out 5, 10 or even 20 times a piece.

While I love the pin idea, did anyone think through implementation? Maybe they did and didn’t think the long lines and slow checkout process would deter customers. But of course there were several impatient (and unhappy) customers around, some who would undoubtedly share their experience with friends, family and social networks. Add to this scenario a mobile code discount that the associates weren’t aware of how to ring up, and I’m sure you can picture the scene.


Case Study 3
     (Nice & Easy)

This fall, Starbucks offered a LivingSocial deal to purchase a $10 e-card for only $5. Being an avid espresso fan, I bought. Not only did I receive a deal, I was also introduced to Starbucks’ e-gift cards (yes, I’m a little behind on these things). How convenient to just scan my phone when paying and having the amount automatically updated. After registering the card, I receive rewards on my purchases using it and can easily reload with two clicks (or set up automatic reloading).

This offer was easy to redeem, saves Starbucks money (no physical gift cards to print) and saves me the hassle of remembering where I put the gift card. I’ve now downloaded the Starbucks app and regularly reload my card in order to earn rewards. All from a harmless little LivingSocial deal…

Takeaway

I highlighted these three situations because they are fresh and relevant. The first two companies eventually made good on their offers, so I’m not looking to badmouth either of them (hence no company names). The point is that implementation is a key part of any marketing offer, special promotion or customer engagement strategy and can be the difference in success or failure.

The more friction that you create at customer touch points, the more you encourage them to take their business elsewhere.

What’s your take? 

Is a specific experience redeeming a special offer memorable to you (either good or bad)?

Do you take advantage of these types of offers? Why or why not?

Are there any specific types of offers that are more enticing to you?

Finally, what successful promotions have your company run? What are some tips that you’ve learned along the way?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, so we can further discuss the role that implementation plays in special offers. Thanks for stopping by!

Image credit: Entrepreneur
Stay warm! (If you live in a warm weather year ’round locale, then bah humbug. Ha!)

Jaime

I’m grateful for… “I have an app for that.”

Save anywhere with Pocket

I recently read a blog post by Lifehacker asking readers what free apps they are most thankful for this year. That’s when I realized how much I utilize apps to make my life, both personal and professional, run smoothly. What are your favorite apps (paid or free)?

Here are 7 apps that have become a part of my regular routine (in alphabetical order):

  •  Dropbox — this awesome app allows me to access my files anywhere from any of my devices. Also, it’s an easy way to collaborate on projects due to its sharing capabilities. Dropbox was a life saver when I was working on a printing project with a customer in China earlier this year and working with large art files that needed several revisions.
  • Evernote — my favorite note-taking app! I use Evernote daily for work and play. From keeping a running shopping list to making note of possible gift ideas, this app is easy to use and share with others. In fact, it’s my app of choice for gathering quotes, successful case studies and ideas from events that I work for clients.

  • ING Direct — I love banking with ING, who was recently bought by Capital One and is becoming Capital One 360. I’m crossing my fingers that they, and their app, won’t change for the worse (which I’m sure it won’t). I love being able to check my account balances, pay bills, transfer money, find an ATM, cash checks and more from the convenience of my phone — anywhere at any time.
  • Mint.com — my financial snapshot at my fingertips. Plug in your accounts so you can easily keep an eye on your finances — loans, investments, checking and savings, mortgage, etc. If it affects your finances, it’s there. Budget, see where you spend your money and save for those goals, like that vacation on a tropical island.

mint.com app

  • MyFitnessPal — this app allows me to track calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc. and view a snapshot for the day, week or month. Enter your exercise as well, so you can see your net calorie intake and stay on track fitness-wise. The database has thousands of foods already entered, or you can enter your own, like my legendary peanut butter cream pie. Remember, a sound body means a sound mind too.
  • Pocket — I’m always coming across interesting headlines or intriguing websites right as it’s my turn to check out, a lunch appointment shows up or the light turns green. No problem, I just save it to my Pocket. This handy app lets you save favorites for viewing later on any device and share easily to social networks or non-social friends as well (i.e. text messaging, email).

Save anywhere with Pocket

  • Pulse — It’s 2012 and my newspaper is now on the Web, customized to me. Stay up-to-date on the latest news anywhere via any one of your devices, and easily share what interests you to your social networks or save for reading later when you’re stuck in line. Create pages so you can flip through content similar to the sections in a physical newspaper; only now, you create the sections, specify the content and don’t have to recycle the paper later.

So if you run into me in the real world while I’m on my phone, I’m probably using one of these apps. They’re game changers, and they have improved my life for the better.

What apps have found a permanent place in your life? I’d love to hear your favorites! While you’re at it, remember to be thankful for some other things in your life too.

You might also like: 50 Things I’m Grateful For…

Image credits: Evernote, Mint.com, Pocket

Be Thankful,
Jaime