Christina Giliberti – Tweak Your Biz Business, Marketing, Entrepreneur Articles. Tue, 17 Jul 2018 08:40:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Christina Giliberti – Tweak Your Biz 32 32 7 Truthful Retail Insights For Strategic Selling Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:00:00 +0000 If you are a retailer, then knowing how your buyers think is imperative to your business. Knowing how you think is also imperative. This post highlights seven honest retail insights from both retailers and consumers with some examples and questions to influence honest thinking in relation to a retail selling strategy.

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If you are a retailer, then knowing how your buyers think is imperative to your business. Knowing how you think is also imperative. This post highlights seven honest retail insights from both retailers and consumers, with some examples and questions to influence honest thinking in relation to a retail selling strategy.

#1. Just because you love what you sell, doesn’t mean everyone else does

I’ve started at the painful end dear retailers, but I promise that the read is worth the pain. Unless you are Tesco, Burberry, Next or Marks and Spencer’s your retail shop is most probably a labour of love. Much like the premise of buying gifts for loved ones that you would want yourself, independent small-scale shop owners can have a tendency to stock and sell what they love. And while there is nothing wrong with selling your passion, there is if your passion is not shared with enough people to produce a respectable profit.

This is where research will play a vital role, so ask yourself (honestly):

  • What sells and makes me (shop owner) a solid profit?
  • Am I stocking what my buyers (or prospective buyers) are interested in?
  • Am I holding onto my ‘darlings’ instead of making strategic business decisions based on demand?
  • Do I select product ranges from the heart or the head?

Big name brands are cold when it comes to sales. The items or services may be attractive, but the thought process is pure business. They are selling to make money and supplier costs, planning, marketing and salaries must never out-weigh product sales.

#2. It’s not about who you know, but where you know – Location, Location, LOCATION

Has my local Aldi decided to set up shop less than 20 meters from SuperValu? Nooooo, not on your life. Unless I’m very much mistaken, they have already investigated the profit made by their neighbour and assessed the population density in the area. Aldi has enjoyed a 8.3% increase in market share for June 2014  and has 99 stores in Ireland .

However, the point here is location. If the location works for a competitor, then it’s obviously a promising location. Some survey research on personal spending habits and average salaries equals an opportunity for locals to save on groceries. Add this to that fact that bar SuperValu, the closest food store is 20 minutes’ drive away, points to a potentially strong profit avenue for Aldi.

Still, it isn’t always the case that being surrounded by competition is a viable business decision. Selling identical products with yours at higher prices (unless the quality is undoubtedly impressive, or the brand is quite unique), may be a no-brainer for shoppers. An example here is the loss of Eddie Rockets from Mahon Point. There was just no way they could compete with McDonalds or KFC.

Complementary then can be a solid path – selling health foods next to a smoothie bar for example, is a good tactical move. Accessories squeezed in the middle of two fashion stores, again equals a win-win.

So let’s ask ourselves a few more heart-to-heart questions:

  • Am I located in a place that attracts my potential buyers or just where I can afford the rent/bills?
  • Is there too much direct competition that may be difficult for me to compete with?
  • Are my products or services unique enough to attract shoppers, in consideration of the competition?
  • Are there any complimentary shops surrounding my desired location to facilitate sales?

Online, geographical location has zero importance. Setting up an e-commerce store will require a new sales strategy that includes:

  • Product mix online (fresh food sales are much more difficult!) – deeper/shallower mix / different product mix
  • What can you sell online and how can it be delivered / Click and Collect for in-store collection
  • Pricing (includes P&P local/international)
  • Transferring your brand online – can the brand be experienced the same way?
  • Search engine positioning (competitor/keyword research) – to target prospective customers
  • A way of answering customer service questions – postage, returns, selecting items
  • Online retention strategy to tap into customer loyalty

#3. No personality, no sale

Just when you thought the post was going to be kinder, I shouldered you with this one. And it really is a tough one to face for retailers. It’s the reason why branding is key to any business.

Let’s look at a few examples of brands, brand personality and target shoppers:

  • Next – High quality goods, aimed at the professional/mid-30s shopper, stylish, Seasonal
  • Body Shop – Humanitarian, cause-based retailer, health-conscious shopper, mainly women
  • Aldi – Cost-sensitive shopper, non-brand led, economical, less choice-driven, Simple layout (EDLP pricing strategy)
  • Burberry – Uniquely British, high-fashion and quality, technology-led, innovation-leader, head-turning, Expensive
  • Bershka – Cutting-edge style, affordable, aimed at under 25s, mid-quality
  • Holland and Barrett – Health-conscious, offer-led, Choice-driven
  • Royal Caribbean – Fun, exciting, American, commercial, energetic, high quality

So you can see that each brand defines itself by many things – the products on sale, the service, the pricing, the style, etc. All of these choices cement a brand. They are also the reasons for loyalty.

As a retailer:

  • What is your brand personality?
  • How does this affect the products and services you sell?
  • Are you targeting the right customers for your brand? Is it appealing for them?
  • Do you have a pricing strategy in-line with the brand?
  • Does your corporate identity match your brand and appeal to your target market?

#4. Build it and they will come…. Hardly

I wish this were true; that merely being present was enough to pull in the sales. But alas, shoppers require more encouragement. Not only do you need to do the legwork to tell shoppers you exist, but you need to motivate them to visit, and keep repeating this practice. And as you are in this for the long haul, you need to ideally compile a business strategy and marketing strategy to make this happen.

I’m a big fan of objective-led strategies that incorporate a consistent brand personality via omni-channels (That’s a mouthful). To break this down and explain:


Evaluation and research take place to determine where and how key objectives can be achieved. This supersedes a ‘post where popular’ method and is much more business-focused and targeted.

Basically, if a platform or method does not directly support an objective, it is excluded. (This may apply to just short-term or tactical objectives, as opposed to a general strategy exclusion).


  • Brick2Click – The relationship between the physical store and ecommerce site is strong and connected. One leans on the other and the strategy tends to pull on the strengths of both. Vouchers handed out in store for online purchases (Next do this, usually at Xmas)
  • Device2Web – Device-driven strategy with an emphasis on mobile touch points – phone, tablet, kiosk, etc.
  • eAve2Web – Retail serviced via a third party – Amazon, Groupon, eBay, Community, etc. These can lead to purchases online or in store.

Remember – multiple channels must work together.

7 Truthful Retail Insights For Strategic Selling

#5. Women shop for the experience, men shop out of necessity

Ok, this is somewhat of a gender generalisation, but take it as an illustration guide.

Women are ‘touchy-feely’ shoppers – they like to take their time, admire, touch things, try them on, dream a little. If you are appealing to a woman, then you have to woo them a little – allow them to take their time and try things on, paint a picture for them and guide them to all the offers, make them feel special. Does a jeweller rush an engagement ring purchase? No, no no….they ask questions, assess her style and budget, then let her try on a good few. The end reward is far greater if patience is exercised.

Women LOVE sales. Many women will purchase items they don’t need, just because it’s in the sale.

Men on the whole are complete opposites. They want to be quickly guided to what they need – jeans, black, comfort fit, 34 inch long. Compare in front of a mirror and pick the one that is not the most or least expensive. For men you need clear signage and lots of mirrors.

Knowing HOW your customers shop will influence window-dressing, store layout, staff training….etc. It feeds into everything. If you take my rough generalisation above, you can make notes on how to appeal.

So how can this insight work for you? Tapping into the ‘ladies’ shopping habits might produce this outcome:

  • Roomy changing rooms, full length mirrors and a buzzer for assistance to grab additional sizes/colours, etc.
  • Sale rails with clear pricing, interspersed with new season styles
  • Hang necklaces over outfits to create a ‘look’
  • Sales staff dress with new season’s styles
  • Provide ‘testers’
  • Low-cost purchases at the checkout (jewellery)

#6. Loyalty is not easily won in today’s society

I can almost feel the nodding heads with that line. Small town local stores had loyal customers….even brands had loyal customers, but today’s shoppers leap with less thought. Now why is that?

The push

In the rush, rush of sales, sometimes customer service slips. Sometime, it’s a lack of training, less experience, a live-to-work mentally, carelessness, misunderstanding and less care with people, are just a few reasons that loyalty is missed. You only have one chance to make a positive first impression after all. And more – Not following up, not staying in touch, not going the extra mile.

The pull

The internet is a hard-worker’s/hard-spender’s playground. Work hard on a store and advertise, sprinkle some personality and a USP that all items are under €40 and lo’ and behold… have pulled in eye-balls.

The points above are just to illustrate the shallowness that can occur in retail. It is all about perception, expectation, and service. Rinse. Repeat.

You also have to be aware that the long-haul of retail means flexing to fit the demands of the age. Agile business and agile marketing, so to speak. Staying true to your brand, but moving with the times and adding a smidge of innovation feeds a long-term strategy. It keeps your customers hooked.

Here are a few loyalty tricks:

  • Exclusivity events and feedback
  • Loyalty card schemes – Tesco, Debenhams, Boots and Stena Line all have them to reward loyalty
  • Time-sensitive offers
  • Discounts on your favourite / new products and services

#7. Opinions are rife and not always pretty

I may be strung up for saying there are a lot of loud-mouth shouters out there, but I don’t actually mean it to be mean, just an honest insight as to the nature of social media and real-time communication streams. While the volume is – to all extents and purposes – mute, the message is certainly declared in a ‘loud’ and uber-public fashion. In short, we are less afraid of voicing honest (or dishonest) opinions – be they good or bad.

And opinions are sticky – if I tell you my last two bunches of bananas from [unnamed store] were slimy after a day or contained some kind of bug, chances are all my connections (that were privy to my rant) are not holding back a disapproving look. They are asking questions – what is this store? How can they sell such inferior bananas? Is it just the bananas? And so on….

No ‘one is questioning me about my part. Maybe I put the bananas out in the heat – thinking this was fine. Maybe I missed the expiry date and picked them from the offers aisle. Perhaps I had started to eat a banana and a fly landed there and burrowed in.

Maybe, the retailer had no idea (I didn’t mention it to them), or it was just a bad crate of bananas. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter now. The word is out and has been crafted by me, with my anti-blame and pro-shame strategy. Never mind the fact that ALL other bunches of bananas have been perfecto in every way.

It is surprising how much power one opinion has. So if you wish to evoke an opinion, always make sure it a good one….or a negative one that you can ‘work’ to your advantage!

I hope you enjoyed reading about the truthful retail insights.  If you a retailer – what strategies work for you? As a consumer – what causes you to be brand loyal?

Images: ”Smiling Mature Woman Florist Small Business Flower Shop Owner. Shallow Focus / Fashionable girl shopping in a store  /


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The Virtual Office Is A Business Lifesaver: Interview With Samantha Clooney Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:00:16 +0000 Every business owner or sole trader will know only too well how difficult it is to keep your head above water. Each new day brings a new cost or task, and it’s the toughest decision in the world, choosing where to spend your ever-depleting time. It is for that reason that The Virtual Office, headed by Samantha Clooney, is a business’s best friend and Lifesaver.

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Every business owner or sole trader will know only too well how difficult it is to keep your head above water. Each new day brings a new cost or task, and it’s the toughest decision in the world, choosing where to spend your ever-depleting time. It is for that reason that

Yes it was quite tough at the beginning, I was very lucky though in that I got involved in a good network and I had some amazing support to begin with. It was also difficult from the point of view that we had not found our Niche to begin with and as a result we were trying to be everything to everybody, which was quite difficult at times. However, we learned quite quickly that our Niche Market was small micro businesses, the one man shows, and small to medium family run businesses. Because of this, we really get to know our clients customers and they get to know us, it allows for a more personal service to our clients.

The concept of virtual is taking hold, but have you discovered any issues in regards perception? Do companies like to ‘see’ an office?

Yes, the perception of a virtual office was very hard to get across to Irish people; it still is to a point. Some people get it immediately and think ‘wow’ that’s a great idea and others need a bit more in-depth explanation. The other difficult aspect for people to get past is the trust element which is completely understandable. It’s hard for a business owner to relinquish trust to someone they don’t know. At the end of the day as a virtual office you are the first point of contact for the company. It’s important for our clients to know that their business is in the right hands, we take a ‘plug in’ approach where we work side by side with the business, we do what they need us to do and when. The motto we live by is that we treat your business as if it were our own. Thankfully I’m proud to say that all our clients stay with us for years as a result, and, they will readily refer others onto us.

You are making a nice name for yourself in the global marketplace (wonderful to see), but was it difficult gaining those clients and are their expectations different to your ‘local’ clients?

Most of our international clients are with us through word of mouth referrals I think because there is a certain trust already there. However, we don’t usually deal with them any differently than our Irish customers because at the end of the day our service levels are quite high and that’s the most important aspect to all our customers – everyone gets the same high level of standard.

I love your business start-up package, would you see a high volume of start-ups?

Our start-up package is a wonderful way for a new business to portray a very professional image which will always lead to good credibility in their particular industry, plus in addition to the service they always get some additional mentoring and support from me along the way.

We do see a lot of start-ups in our business (which is lovely to see) but in some cases people start a business without realising the amount of work involved. Some decide to persevere and are successful businesses today. Others decide the amount of work involved isn’t what they expected and decide to wind up their business. I think this is the nature of start-ups, people don’t realise the amount of work that’s involved or indeed the fact that on certain months there might not be a pay packet there for them by the time the bills and staff are paid.

In terms of expansion, how do you cope with a burgeoning workload?

With regards to our expanding workload, there are three of us who deal with the workload, together. Each one of us is trained to the same standards. We work well as a team to get through what has to be done on a daily basis and at peak times we prioritise jobs and divide and conquer so to speak. However, one of the most important aspects of business that I have learned, which I’m sure many business owners out there will agree with me, is the ability to say No. If I find that we have a large work load at a given time I won’t take on extra work as it means that our service levels could drop and we can’t guarantee the same care to our customers. We will always endeavour to get the work done, but, if we are exceptionally busy then we have to say no. However, in that case we always try to refer them on to another business that may be able to help them out, but only ones that we would work with ourselves.

We are increasingly moving away from a physically-connected work environment in favour of a more flexible virtual work situation. Even socially, we are more comfortable online. Any thoughts on where this will lead?

Since as far back as we can remember, social gatherings have been the core of our existence. What I have seen over the last few years has been a significant transfer of traditional social and business gatherings online. Social will continue to expand and grow. I think it has become an accepted, even an expected functionality on the web. But, I still think we’re in the infancy of social media. What’s hit a saturation point however is talking about it. It’s just media now, and all media is social. No company can afford to ignore social media if it wants customers.

Thanks to Samantha for giving us an insight into virtual office solutions, and being such an inspiring interviewee!

And so to the future – what’s the next step for the Virtual Office?


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Talking Therapy Gets Intimate About New Online Channel Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:00:21 +0000 Today, Shelley and I peeled back the usual reserved business layers and got a little intimate about the path she has co-planned for Talking Therapy, the difficulties she has personally experienced and why she feels so strongly about its success.

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and textiles industry and this led me to become a Course Director for a Fashion Marketing degree programme at a well-known London University.

I absolutely loved teaching and looking after both lecturers and students on my degree programme. The fashion department was a wonderfully creative environment to work in. I have many fond memories of that time.

It was whilst I was working in London that I trained to be a Psychosynthesis Counsellor. As I neared the end of my training I realised I needed a gentler pace than I experienced living and working there. I had achieved a lot during my time working at the University, having accomplished my goal of developing and rolling out a new honours level fashion marketing degree programme. But it was definitely time for a change and I was keen to start my counselling practice.

I moved to Ireland in 2007 and set up my counselling practice in Cork. I haven’t looked back and my practice has gone from strength to strength. I’ve had wonderful work opportunities, including providing on-site counselling to employees of the multinational, Blizzard Entertainment.

Having a background in marketing has helped me enormously with building my own practice. It has felt like a logical step to launch Talking Therapy and support other therapists with marketing their practices.

As a trained therapist/counsellor yourself, I imagine you know only too well the positives and negatives of being a therapist in Ireland. Can you tell me about how this knowledge helped you create Talking Therapy?

It is interesting you ask that Christina. For a long time I have been concerned by the lack of information available to people searching for counsellors and psychotherapists in Ireland.

It is sad to say this but this lack of information can be a factor in people not having a positive experience with a counsellor. The worst thing for me personally is when I hear people say, “I tried counselling but it did not work for me”.

Often times it is not that counselling does not work for them, it is that the particular counsellor they saw was not right for them. However, most times people do not realise this.

I created Talking Therapy to solve this issue. Talking Therapy enables people to find a therapist who is the right match for their particular needs and requirements. Our simple step by step guide to choosing a therapist ( takes people through everything they need to know to make an informed decision about which therapist to work with. I also personally handle calls from those individuals who need further assistance.

I feel passionately about the service we provide. For me, it is about helping people to get the support that they need.

The majority of start-ups fail before reaching year three. What do you feel will ensure the success of Talking Therapy?

Like most small business owners, I find that I could be spending 24/7 working on the business and still not getting everything done. Having counselled many business owners who have become burnt out after a few years of running their businesses, I know it is essential to Talking Therapy’s success that I take really good care of myself and take regular time off.

As well as looking after myself, an essential ingredient in Talking Therapy’s success is that we constantly evolve and develop our service to meet our clients’ needs. This is why we provide an online booking facility. We know that many professional people do not have time to ring around therapists to try to obtain an appointment. Our convenient online booking facility means individuals can see a therapists’s available appointments for the week ahead and book the time that is convenient for them – all at the click of a button!

What have you felt to be the most difficult decisions when planning, setting up and promoting your business?

In the planning phase for Talking Therapy the most difficult decision was what business modetalking-therapyl to use for this business. The results of surveys that we carried out with therapists and secondary research into consumer behaviour in Ireland helped us to make our decision.

There were not too many difficult decisions encountered in the setting up phase for this business, however there have been a few very challenging decisions in promoting this business.

We started out by using Google Ads to promote our services. However, we quickly realised that the cost of Google Ads was higher than the income from bookings. So we had to take the difficult decision to stop using Google Ads. Our finances have been fairly tight so we have not been able to afford to do as much offline and online advertising as we would have liked. Instead we are focusing our energies on SEO for our website.

And what are your plans for the business – how will it evolve over time?

We currently have therapists in six counties including Dublin, Cork and Kerry and provide a great service in these areas. Over the next few years we will be increasing our therapist numbers significantly so that we have counsellors and psychotherapists in all counties across ROI. This will help us achieve our goal of being the “go to” website for people in ROI to find a therapist.

An aspect of our service that is really important to us is providing resources on mental health and wellbeing. We already publish informative, free articles every week on therapy related topics. Over coming years we plan on increasing the range of resources we offer to include a selection of e-books and online courses that support individuals with creating happy and fulfilling lives. These e-books and online courses will be available for purchase through our website.

We will also be launching online marketing courses for therapists. Providing them with a step by step guide to building their dream therapy practice. These marketing courses will be suitable for all different types of therapists not just counsellors and psychotherapists.

In early 2015, we plan on launching our new responsive website, so there is much more to come!

Thank you so much Shelley – it’s wonderful to hear from someone who has not only successfully switched careers, but also used it as a spring-board to start their own business.

Does anyone have any thoughts about Shelley’s business Talking Therapy? Or perhaps your own start-up story?


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100 E-commerce Store Tips For Retailers Wed, 11 Dec 2013 16:38:10 +0000 High street retailers are increasingly pressured with rising rental costs, high tax charges and staffing concerns. That's before we even mention the weather! When you are trading in a fixed environment, your goal is to bring customers to you - to make a positive impression (you and products) so that they will purchase. But the process can be time-inefficient, costly and staff dependent.
This post contains 100 tips to help high street retailers set up, manage and profit with an e-commerce (online) store.

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Why Should High Street Retailers Trade Online

How many of you cried when much-loved high street retailers HMV, Blockbuster Video and Jessops closed their doors (*Hand up* Although it seems HMV is back in business). The battle between in-store and online is fierce, yet retailers who have failed to break into the digital market have struggled to compete. As aptly put by Leon C. Megginson (Para-phrasing Darwin) “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.’

#1. Don’t risk extinction – The tip here is simple; explore what digital can do for your retail business.

#2. There’s a LOT of profit to be made when trading online – Global figures vary from site to site, but according to comScore, US sales hit $56.8 million in 2012.

US sales hit $56.8 million in 2012.

Total ecommerce spend within Ireland was 2.96 billion in 2010 and rose to 4.1 billion in 2011. 2.6 million Irish people who regularly shop online.

#3. While your online store should not be seen as a way to make an easy euro/dollar/pound, it should be seen as a means of accessing an online audience with a view to lowering overheads, building loyalty and adding to your reputation.

 Researching your Online Store

Setting up an online store is a BIG decision that requires thought, dedication and solid research. While the costs overall are much lower than running a physical store, success at the initial stage is dependent on financial input and good decisions. But don’t let cost be the ultimate deal breaker, millions of retailers are online and if they can achieve profitability, then they must be doing something right.

Competition: Are there people already selling what you want to sell online? Competition for physical stores is usually geographically located nearby. Competitors for online retailers can be anywhere. Global location has less importance online, although it does throw up issues when sending items and legalities for international trading.

#4. In terms of competition, make a list of brands/companies that sell what you do and look at their web presence – Note layout, design, what they sell, interesting features and product information. Document and go through this with the e-commerce project team.

#5. Pay particular attention to competitor pricing, incentives, discounts and offers – Often, people shop online to purchase at a lower rate, so it’s imperative that you can compete.

#6. How are they performing via social media accounts and search engines? – Is there plenty of activity and a strong following? Always analyse the marketing presence of your competition and take note of what they are doing – well or otherwise. Are they appearing for the searches you wish to appear for?

More on SEO further on…


What kind of demand is there for the products you stock?

#7. Demand may be high in-store, but could be low online – Trends are more rapid online and searches tend to coinside with seasons, events, occasions and pop culture. If you sell fashion-wear, watch the celebs and what they wear and get it online quick smart. Make sure you have enough stock to deal with demand and that this is set up correctly on the website.

#8. It is notoriously difficult to sell one-off, completely custom items online – Not impossible, but difficult. Analyse your business and what you sell to see if online selling will equal online profit. One online business that sells customised items is Irish Made Gifts.

Irish Made Gifts.

Marketing Strategy

Do you have an online strategy? Is there anybody in the company who is really web savvy who can take ownership over the e-Commerce store and online strategy?

#9. Think of an e-Commerce store like a new branch of your shop – It will need staff and constant work being done to it for as long as it is live on the web. That includes upgrades and fixes, adding, removing and editing products, updating content, optimizing content, graphic design and marketing tasks.

We talk more on ‘Marketing’ further on ….

After assessing costs and deciding on a platform, analyzing your competition and considering who will take ownership, you must then give this person/team the responsibility of creating an online strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to establish the direction of the online business, along with the core objectives and steps to be carried out. A main business strategy is usually teamed with specific strategies for marketing and sales, all feeding into the same overall objectives.

#10. The first step is to devise a strategy.

#11. Customers, message and media are the core areas for strategic development.

#12. A huge part of your strategy will encompass content marketing.

#13. Caireen Wackett suggests unifying PR as part of your online strategy.

#14. Channel marketing allows you to dissect your marketing, so create deep strategies for all online channels:

Building Your Online Store


It’s easy to get caught up in the design and forget other costs in the process, such as web server space, security certificates, management fees, Paypal, etc. Here’s a set of ‘mini cost tips’.

#15. Your hosting (the place your website is kept) and your domain name (like ‘’), relates to every website – Letshost ( from €18 p/m for ecommerce sites) and Blacknight ( from €3.34 p/m for a small shop) in Ireland. GoDaddy in the US. To purchase a yearly domain is around €10. A note on hosting – the type of server you select must relate to how transactions occur. See Tip 8. (All prices correct as of 20th November 2013).

GoDaddy Domain Pricing

#16. Payment Gateways have a cost too and these allow you to transact via credit cards and debit cards – Paypal (cost options), Realex, Worldpay, Sage pay.

#17. Dependant on your set up and platform, you may require a payment system like Magento or OS Commerce to create an e-commerce website.

#18. Look at your SSL Certificates (security) – They are required by law if you’re processing transactions on your website and you are storing card details (if only for asagepay online payment short while). This cert is a warranty and to create a secure page for transactions (it encrypts the user details – https). This applies if you use Realex, WorldPay or Sagepay. If you ONLY use Paypal and a user is transferred to the Paypal website to conduct the actual transaction, a SSL cert is not required. If you need an SSL cert, you also need a dedicated server (non-shared) and these will cost more per month. Thawte and Verisign are the main SSL cert providers and the cost is around €250 – €900 for the year (All prices correct as of 20th November 2013).

#19. Plus of course there’s your development costs (from around €1500 up) – Shop around and spend time chatting about the project needs, projections and scale-ability – the right development should suit your needs, understand the specification and be knowledgeable enough to recommend.

Platforms? So you’ve checked out the competition, you’ve investigated who you’re about to compete against and align with in terms of searches, but which platforms did they use? Would you know what they were? There’s choice for a reason and generally this is down to: Style, options, integrations, cost/payment options, open source, future-proofing and usability. WordPress, OpenCart, Shopify and Drupal are all stellar eCommerce platforms, but each has different strengths and weaknesses depending on your specific requirements. The tip here is to use the skills of a web consultant to provide a neutral viewpoint, OR speak to developers who cover various e-Commerce CMS and always ask for examples so that you can see what their final product looks like.

#20. Ask about each platform – what it costs, what it can do, how easy it is to update the products and landing pages, will it integrate with Mailchimp (or other) for email sign ups? How do you upload products? Can you automatically sync with parcel companies, or can you set up exactly the type of shipping you need? Is there a dashboard for analytics and sales? How far can you customize your store? Is there a set up cost? Are there recurring fees for the platform usage or for add-on products? All critical questions that can be answered with the aid of a consultant or sales person at a development agency.

#21. Take a look at the platform sites too and make notes – check that they have what you need. Below are some of the main ones.

#22. Research WordPress – WordPress is one of the most popular platforms and is extremely user friendly. You can edit standard themes, or purchase professional themes (and have these customised).

  • Theme Forest
  • Elegant Themes: WordPress as standard is fine for basic websites, but it’s the ‘add ons’ that give it an edge for e-commerce shops.
  • Woo Commerce: Has the most incredible themes for styling your website
  • WO Commerce is a plugin that will provide additional e-commerce functionability

#23. Research OpenCart – OpenCart is a fully inclusive e-commerce platform with many features as standard. You may need to pay for ‘Extensions’ for custom/enhanced features.

#24. Research Shopify – Shopify is the shop for beginners ….and experts. Easy to set up and includes a secure shopping cart and SSL certificate (security payments). If you have a retail outlet, then Shopify’s POS system will sync your entire inventory, prices, etc.


A GOOD design can make or break an e-commerce website. There are a wealth of elements to consider when developing a website.

#25. When planning the design of your website, you will need to take into account:

  • Layout
  • Navigation and usability
  • Stylistic elements (and branding)
  • Features
  • Mobile

The trick is to create a balanced website that meets the expectations of your target market. From a user perspective it should be clear what you are offering and the purchasing process should be seamless.

It should be clear what you are offering and the purchasing process should be seamless.

#26. Further tips on design:

Look at some of the high street retailers and popular online stores:

Products/Shopping Carts

#27. Use keywords to investigate competitors – If you sell baby clothes, search baby clothes and see what results pop up. Those near the top (not including ads or large brands) are worthy of deeper analysis and work as useful sites to share with developers. This applies to naming conventions too – note what competitors are calling similar products and compare against your keyword research data.

#28. Statistics show that products WITH images are more likely to sell – so upload an image (ideally a few) for each product you sell. Fashion retailers in particular will use function-ability to zoom in and videos to show the products in action.

John Lewis

#29. Just because you sell it in-store doesn’t mean you should sell it online – Also, there are limitations in-store (space) that can be overcome when selling online. Some items are difficult to ship due to bulk or break-ability. Be selective with the items you sell and clear on where you can ship them. Stores such as Littlewoods Ireland and Next offer store pick up.

#30. When adding products, the description must cover all details – sizes, colors, important details, materials, etc. Also include reviews and sharing buttons to encourage visitors to interact and make purchasing decisions.

#31. Conversion optimization is the process by which the path of a sale is analysed and adjusted to increase total sales – The steps from selecting an item to entering details and making the purchase are all points that a user can ‘drop off’ or cease to continue the sale. Keeping this process simple will help the sales progress to completion.

#32. Use user accounts to store details and save time on repeat purchases – Wish lists are also handy for users to store items and purchase later.

The User Experience

The trick to creating a lively and profitable e-commerce store is to provide a positive user experience.  The user should have no issues navigating the website, finding what they need and making an efficient transaction.

#33. Some simple tips to help users navigate.

#34. Knowing what NOT to do in relation to the user experience, is just as important as knowing what you should do.

#35. The user experience ties in with design, and an effective experience – it helps to keep your bounce rate (those that click on the site, then instantly off the site) low.

#36. Track the user experience and understand the behaviours of visitors better by filtering results – In your website analytics and consider eyeball tracking research.

More on monitoring and analytics later …

Marketing (On-site) The phase ‘build it and they will come’ is a memorable one. Unfortunately, it definitely isn’t the case with a website. In a sea of sites, how will your website impact and grab the attention of prospective customers? Marketing your website using both online techniques and offline techniques will

#37. We may keep harping on about strategy, but all roads do lead back to planning – Planning how you will strategically deliver results means analyzing what you need to achieve and pinpointing how to get there.

#38. Is it just good old design that makes one site stand out from another, or is there a magical extra that adds some buzz? – An overlay of marketing-orientated messages will aid the experience and ensure customers are knowledgeable of offers, promotions, competitions and much more.

#39. Multi-channel marketing in retail is all about touch points – From the website to mobile, the physical store and offline media like catalogues. With each channel, there is opportunity to cross market and sync online and offline.

#40. Marketing encompasses the clever use of feature-rich additions and ‘add ons’ – like slides (that change and link to website pages), the ability to add voucher/promotional codes when purchasing online and the use of store credit. Highlighting savings like free delivery for purchases over €/$/£ XX can quickly turn up the volume of a total sale.

#41. Click and Collect is by far one of the best offerings – allows you to purchase online and choose a store to pick up the item from.

#42. Clever marketing is fresh and themed – using seasons and events as a steer for content is excellent at driving real-time sales like Littlewoods adding a Christmas background image and additional menu.

#43. Customized content utilizing user accounts or past behaviors (big data) not only improves loyalty, but also drives consistent sales.

Littlewoods add a Christmas background image and additional menu.

#44. Interactive Marketing techniques support online efforts like BA’s new outdoor adverts.

Mobile and M-Commerce

The use of mobile devises and tablets is soaring across the globe and retail is especially popular on devices. Eric Daly (DMI Mobile Marketing Conference, Dublin 2013) noted that 82% of people have researched a product via their mobile and 67% that view a mobile-friendly site will most likely buy/use the service.

#45. Plan your mobile website strategy  – (that darn word again!) Mobile websites require slicker menus and a cleaner feel. The screens are much smaller too.

#46. Get the right information on mobile commerce and preparing your website (m-commerce)

#47. Understand what responsive design is and what it means for mobile websites.

#48. Optimise for your mobile website users.

Related post: 100 Green ‘Monster’ Tips: Ethical And Eco-friendly Cost-Saving Ideas For Business


Content is king online, that’s the layout of content, content formats, how content is formatted, how copy is written and how well optimized your content is. Unique, well-written, branded copy with prominent calls to action. Consistent tone of voice

early half of B2B marketers have no content strategy and more than half of B2C marketers haven’t one either.

#49. Create a content strategy – According to a report by the Content Marketing Institute, nearly half of B2B marketers have no content strategy and more than half of B2C marketers haven’t one either. Content calendars, collaboration tools and measuring results are top notch tips … And even more content strategy tips.

#50. Writing content is an art form, but you can learn how.

#51. High quality content means merging SEO techniques with your writing  to ensure you rise above your online competitors.

#52. As search engines adore fresh content, it makes sense to use a content stream as a way of producing consistent content – One that springs to mind is blogging. Blogging tips are rife, so here are a good few posts with the best tips:

#53. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) impacts on purchasing patterns – this report by Nielson shows that half of all [surveyed] respondents (50%) said they would be willing to reward companies that give back to society by paying more for their goods and services. Be aware of CSR and how to publicize the good social work you are doing as a company.

#54. Don’t forget product reviews!

#55. Make sure that you create all the base pages to comply with website regulations like a privacy policy, feature a cookies pop up (letting the user agree/disagree) and website terms and conditions – For e-commerce websites, pages dedicated to FAQs, delivery/postage will provide visitors with all important information when ordering online.

#56. Content is just restricted to text, multi-media is encouraged to attract and keep visitors entertained and interested – Videos, photos, presentations, etc. all fall within this category.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about being seen in (search engine results pages) SERPS for a user search – The ideal scenario is your site being top for all desired searches….. but to achieve this result takes a whole lot of online genius….including the following:

#57. While search engine algorithms constantly change (see tip 58), the inclusion of high-value  keywords is still a strong part of the content writing (and guiding) process – MOZ has some cool tips here on keyword research, plus a SEO Starter Guide.

Keywords Graph

#58. Staying up-to-date with search engine changes – Like Google’s latest (Sept 2013) algorithm Hummingbird, will help you maintain those prominent spots.

#59. Lots of wonderful tips on SEO and how to drive traffic to your online store.

#60. And the effect of social media on SEO is taking hold – So the use of Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is encouraged to work WITH your online store:

#61. For developers, much of the SEO foundations are built in at the beginning and via technical tools.

Security –  We have grown to depend on the internet and technology. I can hardly remember the days before mobile phones or even the basic dial up connection. But with technology comes great responsibility (or.. something like that). Fraud is rife. According to Nominet, 12 million items of personal data was traded online Jan-March 2013 alone.

#62. For start-ups, fraud is a topic that can overshadow the excitement of an online store build – Trustev provide some great tips on fraudulent activity. They also offer an e-commerce verification service.

#63. WordPress is just one of many platforms available to you as a store owner. It’s important to stay aware of how to secure your website against hackers

#64. Top tips for securing your website files (or checking your development team have!)

Innovation and Trends

Being innovative and trend-driven can leverage you as a brand or business, buy you some serious PR love and inspire a following online.

#65. Innovating means evolving and educating yourself with all the ecommerce consideratiosn and trends, so take a deep breath ..

#66. Guerilla marketing promotes the idea of free and low-budget marketing.

Tescos launched virtual stores in Korea and Gatwick Airport

#67. Look to the big brands for innovative retailing:


Repetition breeds loyalty, so it makes perfect sense to bring repeat visitors to your site. But what is it that brings them back and again and again…?

#68. When considering loyalty schemes, make a checklist and truly understand your audience.

#69. Loyalty offers reward customers for purchases – A substantial amount of big brands have a loyalty card to reward loyal customers and this approach can be further used to push online sales by handing out in store online order incentives, or mailing them to recipients.

#70. Add visitors and customers to your mailing list – This can be an email sign up box on the website, plus you add a checkbox to the check-out process. You could even send a follow up email with confirmation of their order AND to see if they wish to sign up. The idea is to create a number of touch points for sign up (but don’t overdo it!)

#71. Exclusive deals for loyal customers make your customers feel special – You can send them invites to launches and store events, competition entries, deals, announcements and all sorts. The very best exclusives are those which allow customers to really interact with the brand. Ensure you monitor the results and responses to evaluate success.

#72. Coax them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, etc – So that you can keep them apprised of everything that’s happening with the store.

#73. Personalise communications like Amazon – Amazon sends emails to customers about similar products to what they have purchased to encourage a buy. This data stems from a user account with purchase history.

Monitoring and Analytics

To understand how well your e-commerce website is performing, monitoring all visitor activity is essential. You can monitor what happens on your website, what brings customers TO your website and the retail online space in general.

#74. Create an analytics account – Google Analytics is publicly available and easy to get started on.

#75. Explore all the web analytics solutions – Like Webtrends, Enterprise Marketing Management (Coremetrics) and Adobe Marketing Cloud.

#76. Set up e-commerce tracking – Then evaluate what you want to analyse like total purchases, purchases by categories, profit, etc. You may need to customise a little to obtain the correct results. You will definitely need to add custom code to the website.

#77. Conversion optimisation – As mentioned before is about optimising the check out process to limit the number of drop offs and increase the number of sales. Analyse your check out process and use analytics to monitor drop offs.

#78. Track what streams bring traffic to your store – Like searches (SEO), advertising like PPC adverts, press releases, blog posts, banner adverts, emailsFacebook, Pinterest and websites you feature on.

#79. Using packages like Hitwise Experian – It adds an additional layer of intelligence to your consumer insights, it also lets you track vital data that you couldn’t access any other way like industry research and store traffic counting.

#80. Remember to filter out traffic from you and your team, so that your analytical reports are accurate.

#81. Append tracking code to your marketing campaigns to track them independently – Use the URL Builder to set them up.

#82. Connect your Google Analytics and Google Adwords accounts  – So that you can clearly see the contribution that your advertising makes to overall clicks and sales.

#83. For the more advanced, pay attention you’re your ‘multi-channels – Build custom reports on what channels pre-empt a purchase or which contribute (and how).

#84. Always assess metrics from ALL your campaigns like Facebook ads, Adwords ads, YouTube videos.

Adding a Touch of Social

#85. Use instagram to give your online store and customers a more real visual feel – ask purchasers to send pictures of themselves with products on via instagram hashtag or crowdsourced picture contest so you get a lot of visual content from buyers and then give them money off their next purchase if they show the product in use

IKEA Share Space

#86. Ikea are exceptional at being social – Their ‘Share Space‘ website allows customers (and prospects) to share their own photos. That means that your customers become content curators for you!

#87. Experience marketing is highly entertaining and can be enacted in the ‘real world’ –  It’s a prime social way to advertise your e-commerce store, although does take a huge amount of planning and training.

Going Forward – International Expansion

Selecting where to expand your e-commerce store may seem simple…..isn’t the website public after all? But your website is just the ‘front interface’. Selling internationally is a huge decision and you need to know the market.

#89. Assess your offering against the marketplace – Is there demand for your products? Are they amenable? What are the postage costs and can you transport them easily? Are there legal terms pertaining to your products, i.e., medication?

#90. Local, local, local. That’s the mantra for international expansion – don’t be a US website in Asia, be an Asian website from a US company. Keep all your international content local including products (as in, acceptable, useful and demand-driven for that location), currency/ies and legalities.

#91. Fraud detection and restrictions on promotions by country – these are additional features you’ll need to set up for an international store.

#92. Understand local cultures  – Determine whether there’s a need to translate the website into the local or dominant language.

5 MUST HAVE E-commerce Site Tips from Store Owners and Agencies

Kate Hyde Henparty#93. While Paypal is a fantastic tool for small businesses starting off, it can be a barrier to e-commerce – Many people don’t have Paypal accounts and don’t realise they can pay with Paypal without one. This could cost you sales. It can also imply ‘cottage industry/amateur’ to some, which turns some customers off. If you are looking to give the impression of serious e-commerce I feel getting a merchant account/payment gateway on your site is worth the time and money. Shop around and haggle on rates.

– Kate Hyde, Managing Director of

Jill Holtz Mykidstime#94. A rule to use when selling is that if something is new and unused sell for 50% the original price and if something is used sell for 33% of the original price. If something is not selling for you, reduce your price!

– Jill Holtz, Owner at My Kids Time

Elish Bul-Godley#95. Presumer / pretailing online helps you get people to input directly at buying or making stage before the eproduct comes to market – use crowdsourced models like for example to create impetus for a new crafted range or get people to input the trends they want to see in the next buying round.

Elish Bul-Godley, Copywriter and B2B Events Professional

Amanda Webb Spiderworking#96. Make sure your customers always know exactly what is happening with their order – If it’s a gift let them know that it has been delivered.

– Amanda Webb, Owner of

Lorna Sixsmith#97. Ensure photography is really good, description is concise and yet contains all necessary details, as few clicks to purchase as possible – Have the pin it button now beside each product so people can add it to their own wish list on their Pinterest board if they don’t want to buy it now, (rich pins now for Pinterest too will include price details and stock levels etc and will update as necessary)

– Lorna Sixsmith, AKA IrishFarmette

Ultimate Guides and Reports

Ultimate guides and in-depth reports may take a while to read, but they contain juicy information on the retail space and e-commerce.

#98. Read the Ahain Group: E-commerce and the Digital Dynasty Report.

#99. Read Retail Excellence: Europe B2C Ecommerce Report.

#100. Read Econsultancy: How the Internet Can Save the High Street.

Phew! Any more tips to add?

Related post: 100 Guerilla Marketing Ideas: Grow Sales With Zero Budget


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Hoosh And The Age Of Intelligent Data: Interview With Jacob Hagemann #TYBspotlight Fri, 06 Dec 2013 14:00:09 +0000 In this #TYBspotlight I natter to Jacob Hagemann (Founder) of Hoosh about the ways in which their services support business market research and competitive analysis, staying ahead of Google’s algorithm and what new products they have in store for 2014.

The post Hoosh And The Age Of Intelligent Data: Interview With Jacob Hagemann #TYBspotlight appeared first on Tweak Your Biz.

In this #TYBspotlight I natter to Jacob Hagemann (Founder) of Hoosh, about the ways in which their services support business market research and competitive analysis, staying ahead of Google’s algorithm and what new products they have in store for 2014.

Jacob, tell us a little about your background and reason for setting up Hoosh

I have been working with Search Marketing and e-Commerce since 1998, primarily as a consultant and owner of search marketing agencies. I have also started up commerce companies and worked hands-on with selling goods online.

During the years I have always had an interest in knowing more about what is going on in the market.

  • How are the competitors doing?
  • What are they doing?
  • Am I doing the right stuff, etc?

About three years ago I started an internal project in my agency to get more of this kind of knowledge and we started to sell it to a few customers. Then another few customers wanted it and it keep going like that. As it was very manually driven for the first year there was a limit to the amount of customers that we could actually have and running it partly was very time consuming.

I believe very much in what we are doing and the decision to take it a step further was easy. I was lucky to find two seed investors and could start building a real platform for the service. We began the development in November 2012 and changed total direction in January 2013 where the decision to build InsideIndustry as our main product was taken. InsideIndustry was launched in October 2013.

Hoosh-logoWe’ve seen a number of market intelligence tools on offer. What makes Hoosh stand out from the pack?

For sure there are a lot of market intelligence tools in the world. The main difference between us and the rest of the tools is probably that we base our analysis on data we collect from Google. We believe that Google is such an important player in the world today that your position in Google can be used as an indicator for your general market position.

This is why we built InsideIndustry as a Country / Industry / Category index. We offer companies to understand their market position within minutes across 250 different categories in (currently) five countries. And more importantly, we offer them to understand the position of their competitors. Actually we are very much a Competitive Intelligence service as well as being a marketing intelligence tool.

I’m fascinated by all these different kinds of ‘ranking’. What’s ‘HooshRank’ and how does it work?

HooshRank is a metric that shows companies/websites how they are ranked in a category. It’s important to understand that we are not talking about how they are ranking for a specific keyword, but how they are ranked across a selection of top keywords for that specific category.


I will give an example:

For the category “Hybrid Cars in the Car Industry in the US Market” we have defined a set of keywords with the highest search volume and the most competition. Usually around 20-25 keywords for a category. This is what we need as a strong indicator. We know that there are probably hundreds or thousands of keywords that are relevant for this category, but usually 70-80% of the business is controlled by a small amount of keywords. And this is what we are looking at to determine the rank of companies.

So the company with HooshRank no.1 is the company that has the overall best position across all the keywords for the category – meaning that this becomes a metric that can be used for comparison between websites. These keywords are not designed to favour one company towards another. They are objective and generic.

If you have a HooshRank of 35 or 77 in a category you know that you will have to get to work – especially if it is a category that is important to you and if it is a category where your competitors are ranking 1-2 and 5.

InsideIndustry shows competitor’s search marketing strategies. What can a company expect to find out?

We offer, to my knowledge, the only holistic analysis of companies’ position in Google, meaning that we take into account both the paid and the organic results when we calculate the visibility of a company. We have developed a very sophisticated Visibility Score that is partly based on actual human Search & Click behavior. Our panel is giving us data about their search and click behavior as they use Google on a daily basis.

Every time they do a query and make a click on a result in Google we receive information about the anatomy of the search engine result page that was present for that exact query. And this is another place where we differ a lot from the competition. We actually take into account the anatomy of the SERP when we calculate the Visibility Score.

An example could be a SERP (search engine result page) with 14 Google Adwords vs a SERP without Google Adwords. It is clear to everybody that the value of a number 1 ranking in the organic index of Google is very different in these two scenarios. With 14 Ads on the page there could be up to 40% -50% of the users that would click on the Ads rather than the Organic index. Meaning that the traffic value of a no.1 ranking on this type of SERP needs to be reduced.

So to answer the question:

A company can expect to see a very realistic picture of their actual share of the search market for each of the categories that they are present in. They can see this for themselves and for their competitors. They can see the actual mix between organic and paid search advertising for the competitors and much more.

How do you keep up with search engines and the algorithm updates?

This is not an easy task, but we have a very skilled team working on this night and day. Actually we are often on the forefront to spot the algorithm updates, or at least the outcome of the update. It is very easy to see when a company all of a sudden drops 5-10 % of their visibility score on Organic search. This is usually due to some kind of update either in the search engine or if the company changed their website or other dramatic stuff.

In terms of a real life example, is there a case study you can share that highlights how crucial Hoosh is for a serious online business?

I wish I could say yes.

We have a good group of customers using this and especially online driven companies in ecommerce and travel as the two top categories. Some of them have been using it since the very beginning, but they are not so keen on actually revealing how they use it – at lease not yet and not publicly!

I hear on the global, online grapevine that there is a lot of activity at HQ and perhaps some new, exciting products are on the cards. Can you tell us a bit about them (if the rumours are true of course)

Lots of things are happening and we are very busy 🙂Google Adwords

We have new and exciting features coming out soon. Features that will help companies understand the actual spend of their competitors in Google Adwords and actually calculate how much traffic each competitor is getting from the different keywords. This is especially interesting now with all the NOT Provided stuff with Google.

Also we are extending our free HooshRank to HooshBattle. To use the HooshRank you need to register, but now we are launching the HooshBattle where you – free of charge – can battle two domains against each other. Simply type in the two domains and we will give you an overview of how each of them are performing in the search engine. The only limitation to this service is of course the different markets that we cover, the industries and the categories. If you are outside our focus categories you will get the message: there is now HooshRank for your website. You should only worry about this if you are not active in any of our 5 countries, 20 industries and 250 categories 🙂

What do you see happening online within the next 12 months – anything that affects what you do? Anything that will simply blow the mind of anyone in the online industry?

I think we will see a lot of interesting things happen over the next 12 months. The shift towards more data-driven marketing and data-driven decisions in general will create more and new companies and services crossing BIG DATA streams from all kinds of channels. I think this is very interesting and I expect to see big things. For a company like Hoosh I see a bright future as marketing management and search marketers will start to understand what it is we are offering them in a matter of seconds.

I often say that we are the fastest market analysis tool in the world and I really would like to challenge anyone who thinks they can do it faster than us. I just tested now.

  • From opening InsideIndustry to knowing who are the main competitors in the Airline Ticket category in Germany it took me 16 seconds.
  • To fully understand the mix between Paid and Organic search in this category it took me another 4 seconds.
  • If I want to go through all the 15 features and think a little bit about it – maybe setup a specific benchmark and adding my domain etc. I may decide to use 4-5 minutes. I think that is very fast.

Ask a traditional market analysis company and they will tell you 5-6 weeks and probably somewhere around 20-30.000 Euro 🙂

We offer our customers to follow their own performance and the performance of their competitors on a daily basis. I think that is a very strong offering.


It’s obvious from Jacob’s responses there there is a lot to grapple with – search engine algorithms, big data processing, new technology and trends, etc. However it does appear to keep him and the entire team at Hoosh, challenged. There’s a real emphasis on ‘being the best’, and this is where I see Hoosh storming the market – quality in everything they do. This is a company to watch! It was a pleasure getting to know Hoosh, Jacob Hagemann and Smilena Spasova.


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iMemory And The Growth Of Digital Archives Wed, 07 Aug 2013 12:00:56 +0000 Those of us who grew up prior to the digital age will struggle to recall memories of being young or old relationships, but according to Professor Hoskins of the University of Glasgow, social media could actually reinforce our memories and preserve them forever as iMemory.

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Those of us who grew up prior to the digital age will struggle to recall memories of being young or old relationships, but according to Professor Hoskins of the University of Glasgow, social media could actually reinforce our memories and preserve them forever as iMemory.


The earliest memory I have is of sitting in a buggy with a plastic covering. I was roughly two years old and I distinctly recall pressing my finger against the plastic as rain droplets pelted against the covering. According to Dr Duncan Banks; a lecturer with the Open University, childhood memories are rare, so this memory must have had enough impact for me to hold on to. In truth, I have always had a love of being in the rain and so in my own mind, I have reinforced this memory from my toddler years. Now in my 30s, I transgress to that time with acute fondness, although the memory could well be re-created as a ‘romanticized’ story to explain my happiness in the rain. So how reliable are our memories?

Digital age

New research into those growing up in a digital age, show that memories can be created in digital form as visually uploaded experiences. Due to search engines, email and social media, they are stored forever online. Professor Hoskins coined the phrase ‘iMemory’ to pay tribute to this evolution and life-long digital memory encapsulation. To have this tap-able storage, means that memories can be ‘searched’ and re-experienced in real-time.  It also improves ‘reliability’ as there is visual proof the event took place.

Note: iMemory – Not to be confused with memory upgrades for digital devices like smartphones.

iMemory: A living digital archive

I have various videos of dance demonstrations; a snap-shot of me as ‘ballet, tap and modern dancing supremo’ at the age of 10-18. Generation X and Y will remember the special tapes that you could insert your video camera recordings into, or the hours it would take to transfer to a regular tape. Either way, as video players are practically taboo, my dance memories are now locked away in a private cupboard or box in the loft. Easily lost. Easily forgotten.

This is not the case with digital. Photos and videos can be stored online and accessed easily via accounts and downloads. Search engine searches are trickier, as newly uploaded files rise to the top and older files sink. But all in all, a digital archive is permanently available.

‘The faded and fading past of old school friends, former lovers and all that could and should have been forgotten are made part of a living archive of Google, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook ….. Digital media is not a benign extension of memory – rather we have lost control, we have given memory away.’ Professor Hopkins, University of Glasgow, Metro

As the quote above reminds us, some memories should be allowed to fade privately.  As we age or our life situation changes, certain memories can cause pain or embarrassment. A former partner, best friend or deceased family member can ‘haunt’ us.


Still, many iMemories can be used as keepsakes, like this beautiful video composition for Jaxon. His Father took a daily photo of him from birth until the age of one. A fellow YouTube user turned them into this video as a kind gesture. It has been shared with the world and gained in excess of 23,000 views on YouTube.  A memory ‘given away’ to strangers, who in turn can share it as I have done. Little Jaxon will not be able to fully appreciate this keepsake until he’s much older.


According to the Daily Mail, one in eight parents create a Facebook account for their baby. Some long before the birth to upload sonograms.

Should iMemories be public or private?

‘The advent of Facebook was as though we had all suddenly moved to live as Truman Burbank in The Truman Show, barely noticing, although being vaguely aware, that our every digital move is tracked….’ Professor Hopkins, University of Glasgow, Metro

In the Truman Show, Truman’s whole life was broadcast as a live TV show. All of the people he interacted with and thought were family and friends were actually actors. He was completely unaware of being filmed.

Those of us partaking in digital communications are not controlled. We know that we are sharing information and what information we are sharing. What we may be unaware of is WHO is watching and HOW MUCH we are giving away. Each written message, image and video can be seen by friends, friends of friends and in cases, strangers.

Be aware that everyone can see if they want to

Over the course of my time on social media, I’ve heard about divorces and break ups, headaches and terminal illnesses, new births, affairs, successes and crying jags. From this collection of daily events, I have a deep connection to those I follow. Now, many of these are long-term friends and family members, but equally, many are people I have never met. I know intimate details of the lives of people I’ve never even spoken to.

iMemories and digital archives are becoming more publicly accessible with potential employers checking Facebook profiles before making hiring decisions and the rise of ‘creeping’ (digital equivalent of stalking). The line between private and public is severely blurred, hidden behind privacy settings, a desire to reach out to others and a misunderstanding of online.

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A Guide To Mobile Marketing And Mobile Commerce (Mcommerce) For Business Thu, 25 Apr 2013 13:15:14 +0000 The adoption of mobile (smartphones/tablets) has changed the face of online marketing and ecommerce (Mobile Marketing and Mobile Commerce)

The post A Guide To Mobile Marketing And Mobile Commerce (Mcommerce) For Business appeared first on Tweak Your Biz.

This post originally appeared on Christina Giliberti’s ’s blog, Christina is a regular contributor to Tweak Your Biz. 

The adoption of mobile (smartphones/tablets) has changed the face of online marketing and ecommerce (Mobile Marketing and Mobile Commerce). Some have coined the phrase ‘Digital Darwinism’ to describe the speed at which digital evolution is taking place due to this disruptive technology. Simply put, technological advancements are being engineered, tested and consumed in a shorter time-frame than ever before. The world of m-commerce, apps and location-based marketing is making light work of targeting, engaging and converting for businesses in today’s society.

Mobile commerce MCommerce

 [Image credit:]

The business case for mobile marketing and mobile commerce

Those born in generation Z have not been exposed to ‘dumb phones’. Many of us however will remember the days when a mobile phone was a portable phone for emergencies with a typical shrill ring (that couldn’t be set to silent or vibe) and text messaging if you were lucky. It weighed much the same as a small dog and had an obvious aerial. We had no idea then that phones would become our handheld worlds to browse the internet, share updates, star in videos, connect with businesses or allow us to make purchases.

Why choose mobile?

The benefits for users are 10-fold – lightweight, portable, ability to connect to the internet and functionability that mirrors the standard PC. Mobile gives you all-in-one connectivity, flexibility and mobility. For businesses, the benefits can be summed up in this one statistic  – 67% that view a mobile-friendly site will buy/use the service (Paul Dunne, DMI Mobile Marketing Conference, Dublin 2013). In short, viewing via mobile is more likely to precede a conversion.

mobile-purchases. Mobile marketing conf

Mobile purchases breakdown by category, Paul Dunne, Mobile Marketing Conf, Dublin, 2013

Let’s break down some of the benefits for users and businesses:

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi hot-spots are helping to provide a highly connected experience for consumers and businesses. Slowly, but surely, more and more are free, although there are paid Wi-Fi hot spots. Those with internet packages (Bluetooth/WAP) on their phone can use 3G, which boasts 95% coverage within Ireland.
  • Flexibility: The mobile device is more than just a way of making phone calls from any location. It facilitates a range of uses from work, consumer/business transactions, leisure, planning and communications (text/email/conference calls).
  • Mobility: The standard PC is tethered by leads (and weight) and the laptop is cumbersome (although they are becoming more streamlined and light-weight). A phone or tablet is a small, portable device. It fits in your pocket or bag with ease and is light-weight enough that you hardly notice it.

A Mobile website

Why do I need a mobile website?

Almost every website can be viewed on a mobile device, however there are negatives to mobile browsing from a user perspective. If the website isn’t supported by mobiles or designed to suit a mobile device, then the website will be:

  • Fragmented: images and text positioned incorrectly on the screen.
  • Invisible (all or part): Flash is used, then Apple device viewers will not see the animations.
  • Too small: mobile screens are small, so buttons and text need to be bigger (especially for those with big fingers!)

Designing for mobiles

mobile app menu

When designing a mobile-friendly website, you have two main choices:

  1. Responsive Design and Adaptive Design
  2. Pure mobile

Responsive design

A responsive design adjusts to any width. This is a better solution, as it will ‘flex’ for all devices and is a ‘future-proof’ option that will work on future mobile and tablets. Example: Yesterdays store

Adaptive design

A website using adaptive design, adapts to device widths and viewpoints. While this approach is quicker and easier, it doesn’t account for device screen changes and so could be obsolete in a short time-frame.

Pure mobile

Pure mobile websites differ from responsive/adaptive websites, as pure mobile are honed for mobile use. True mobile websites like, The Open University and The Journal account for mobile devices by designing mobile websites with the following in mind:

mobile app on smartphone

  • Compress the site navigational menu system and prioritise options. Use collapsible navigation, as opposed to full.
  • Add ‘click to call’ options.
  • Screen swipes.
  • Insert big buttons that stand out against backgrounds and are perfect for big fingers.
  • For retailers – include maps/GPS and the ability to check stock at stores.
  • Auto-detection feature that sends all mobile users to the mobile site.

Websites like Mobdis and Wix mobile help website owners build their own mobile websites.  Mobile applications (apps) are synonymous with mobile devices.

If you have a ‘linked’ set of devices, ie. Apple iPhone and Apple iPad, the apps can appear on both devices. Some apps however are only suitable for a smartphone or tablet. The value of apps for businesses are based on:

  • Trend (apps are ‘in’).
  • Public Accessibility (Their website, Apple store, Google).
  • Ease of use for users and the fact that apps are added to the main screen to access them quicker.
  • Dynamic applications – integration functions for a seamless user experience.
  • Make instant updates in-line with technology, feedback, etc. and make changes available to users (they must update app).

There are countless apps on the market and more businesses are investing in them as they drive customers to the business.


  • Democratic apps is a business that is based on an app product. This app is designed so that Politicians and Councillors can enter their details and the general public can use the app to contact them directly.
  • Sage 50 app allows you to access your finances, produce instant quotes and even generate invoices. Both of the examples above utilise mobile by giving smartphone and tablet users access to their products on the go. Accessibility is key to a successful mobile strategy.

Mobile Commerce (M-Commerce)

Ecommerce allowed businesses to conduct instant transactions via websites and mobile commerce allows people and businesses to conduct financial transactions on mobile devices. This video by Erisson explains mobile commerce with some catchy cartoon drawing.


Mobile (M) Commerce is a growth area for businesses that sell online: Amárach [predicted] that the acceleration in smartphone use [would] stimulate demand for mobile commerce in Ireland and [forecasted] that €800 million worth of transactions [would] be conducted through mobile devices in 2012.’

And in the UK, James Connelly, co-founder/Managing director of mobile agency Fetch has said ‘In the first half of 2012, mobile advertising revenues reached an all-time high – peaking at £181.5m with mobile ad spend up 132%. Mobile advertising revenues will undoubtedly continue to increase in 2013.’

As mobile adoption and ownership increases, along with the mobile ability to do almost anything with them (almost!), the opportunities are endless. Via mobile, you have a connection anytime, anywhere. Mobile commerce opens up the arena further to capitalise and profit from this connection.


One of the greatest advancements for mobile commerce is the ability to generate an instant payment. Through the use of technology and the ‘buy in’ from global payment systems like Visa, there are a number of payment technologies with products in the mobile commerce market. realex-paymentsMobile payment technologies:

  • Realex payments remains one of the top players for online payments, allowing payments from credit cards, debit cards and even the Irish Laser card (although this is being phased out 2012/2013). Their service is in conjunction with most merchants such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
  • Visa (in conjunction with Samsung) has enabled NFC (as opposed to chip and pin) payments on Samsung devices. These utilise a secure element chip,  embedded within the devices that stores your payment account information.
  • MasterCard has launched MasterPass – which is a secure digital merchant checkout service.

Mobile marketing

Mobile marketing is mobile-specific marketing which concentrates on:

  • Advertising (you can create mobile-only ads on the Google search/network with Adwords and even specify the exact phone brand and model)
  • Location-based / Geo-targeting
  • Augumented Reality
  • Mobile-focused apps like Amazon’s PriceCheck that takes account of Showrooming 

Mobile advertising

Google Adwords has a multitude of ad types. One of these is mobile. The settings allow you to target specific devices ‘mobile’ / ‘tablet’ and even brands ‘Apple iPhone’ (Via Legacy Settings).

You are also able to create a Mobile app to feature on Google’s app network.

Geo-targeting and location-based marketing

Smartphone ownership is at 50% in Ireland and location-based marketing for retail stores like Subway, Brown Thomas and Walmart is an excellent way to entice shoppers to the store.

  • Subway UK‘s ‘You Are Here’ campaign targets customers based on their location. Opted-in users near a Subway store were sent an MMS (multimedia messaging service) with vouchers that are scanned in-store.
  • Walmart’s ‘Store Mode’ mobile app uses geolocation and geofencing technology to detect when customers are in a store. When they enter, the screen below pops up on their mobile.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. Augmented Reality brings a campaign to life by allowing customers to interact with the brand. Examples:

  • National Geographic brought Dinosaurs to life in an AR campaign designed to allow customers an opportunity to interact.
  • Tesco’s virtual stores have been rolled out in Korea and the first virtual store in the UK has been set up at Gatwick Airport, London. The stores are a virtual representation of a store, so the food items are seen in graphical form. Customers use their smartphones to scan the QR codes associated with the items they wish to buy and the items are then paid for via an app.



Showrooming is the term used when a mobile user accesses an online store while in a physical store, to compare prices. They may use Amazon’s ‘Pricecheck‘ app to check the price on Amazon, and all they need is a search term, an image or a scan of the barcode. 

5 Innovative mobile campaigns for inspiration

  1. QR codes embedded in pavements in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Scan with a mobile to read information on the city.
  2. Parkbytext that allow you to text your parking place and time and pay via a card linked to your phone number.
  3. Walmart ‘Scan & Go’ service that lets consumers save time by scanning store items with their iPhone device and bagging straight away. Consumers can head to a self-checkout lane, transfer their basket wirelessly and complete their payment.
  4. Eventbrite app that send event QR codes to your phone that can be scanned at the event.
  5. Burberry Watch mobile campaign ‘The Britain’ focuses on mobile-only content. The site features a 3D watch and uses the user’s geo-location to add their local time to the dial of ‘The Britain’.

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Is The Road To Consumerism A Route To Hell? Thu, 21 Mar 2013 19:46:55 +0000 Today, consumerism is rife. The more affluent countries partake in the retail experience almost daily. But is the rate of consumerism a route to hell? Is the ‘want mentality’ ruining us as a society? This post takes a look at the power of consumption in contemporary society.

The post Is The Road To Consumerism A Route To Hell? appeared first on Tweak Your Biz.

Today, consumerism is rife. The more affluent countries partake in the retail experience almost daily. But is the rate of consumerism a route to hell? Is the ‘want mentality’ ruining us as a society? This post takes a look at the power of consumption in contemporary society.

Ever since the first department store (Le Bon Marche, 1850s), the rate of consumerism has seen rapid growth. Prior to this date, there were fewer shops and the ability to consume could only be afforded by the wealthy classes. The reason I state ‘department store’ is due to the relevance – that is, the department store provided a safe shopping experience for wealthy women, minus a chaperone. Whilst I could defend the entire female population, it’s apparent that throughout the ages women have participated in the shopping experience with more vigour. Men would have spent a great deal of their time at work, and so women were a ‘better’ target for retailers. The department store brought shopping to the masses and provided items that were deemed affordable for all classes.

This was a fundamental change for both retailers and shoppers, as it created:

  • Retail to the forefront
  • Increased demand (and supply)
  • Jobs
  • Equality (to a point)

The power of consumption

We may believe that living in contemporary society equals freedom of choice, but if you actually think about what you consume, you would be surprised at how many purchases are:

  • Items relating to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, ie. food, drink, power
  • Everyday essentials (given little thought, other than replace)
  • Contemporary items deemed ‘a must’ in modern times, ie. TV, DVD Player

I want never gets

My late Nan was full of phrases and “I want never gets” was one of her favourites. I would often be chided for saying “I want this… I want that” and this phrase was her way of saying that a want mentality is wrong and that simply wanting an item doesn’t necessary mean I should have it. For me however, as an adult, I feel that this phase highlights how society is breeding a predominant “want mentality”. No sooner do we see something or hear of something we like; we buy.

To further add to the list above, I could mention:

  • Desire items – those heavily promoted as ‘must haves’ by the media
  • Trending items, usually prompted by season, technology or innovation

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Purchases

If ‘want’ is the driver, then we become creatures of ‘desire fulfilment’. Never satisfied until we have what we want. We are then so used to having what we want that the items themselves have little value. The emphasis shifts to a feeling of power and ownership. Although, it is questionable who the power resides with.

To add to this conundrum, the pace of technology further amplifies the decrease in value (psychologically and monetary – depreciation). A ‘new’ TV in 2012 is an ‘old’ TV in 2013. While not obsolete, the owner will look to replace in a shorter time-frame, and with greater frequency – while the TV is functioning perfectly. As the pace ‘new’ becomes quicker, our pace of replacement does too. Environmentally speaking, this means more items being dumped and a higher degree of waste.

What are your thoughts on consumerism? Do you replace items that are out of season/not in trend because you want to or do you wait until you have more of a need?

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3 BIG Considerations For Today’s Retailers Wed, 06 Feb 2013 16:56:59 +0000 High street retailers are dropping like flies – HMV, Jessops and Game are just a few that we have waved goodbye to in the last 12 months. But could they have change their fate? My 3 BIG considerations are all important points for retail owners and may well save their businesses.

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# 1. Pause and reflect, monitor and analyse

Reflecting, monitoring and analysis. All extremely important, but for many retailers; completely forgotten.

Naturally it’s easier to carry on doing what you’re doing. It’s safe, comfortable and requires less and less thought each time you carry out your usual duties. But by cocooning yourself in autonomy, you’re formulaing a barrier between your business and future developments at macro level.

Who knew that the ecomony would turn so quickly in 2008? Could we have predicted the unprecidented growth of technology in operations and communications over the last five years? While your answers may be ‘yes, no’, the reality is that a business should be flexible enough to respond in a timely mannor to macro-level changes.

Understanding buyer behaviours

Understanding buyer behaviours (Chart by

By monitoring activity, customer perception and buyer habits, by training in new forms of business such as social media, mobile and online selling, by assessing the uptake (and profitability) of these channels, a retailer can confidently use the facts to make decisions for the future.

It’s up to management to decide the strategic direction of the business and use internal and external advisers to pinpoint where ‘soft points’ are. If you’re HMV and Amazon are steamrolling all your hard-earned customers, then understand why and use that knowledge to start leveling the playing field.

What do your customers want – lower prices, online access for purchases, innovative products, trending products, a refreshing brand that listens to them?

# 2. Educate and up-skill

I remember my first job in Fashion and the moment when I realized that my dream of being a Fashion Designer wasn’t going to happen. I won’t bore you with the details, but I was scared. I was scared because my skills up until that point were focused on Fashion design, and little else.

The savior for me was to consider what role was sustainable, a growth area and of course, one that would yield a decent salary. It was at that point that I learnt about websites, digital media, databases, marketing and began to feel the value of my new skills. After one year I had a new job as Marketing Co-ordinator for a digital marketing consultancy and after 9 years+ in the field, I now know the power of that choice.

Up-skilling and re-educating yourself is vital. I can’t stress that enough. Never stop learning. Make sure that you (shop/store owner) are aware of new advancements and skill gaps. That’s yours AND those of your staff members.

If stock control and ordering is inefficient, move to a seamless system and let the technology manage the process for you. The benefits will outweigh the initial costs. If your TV advertising is falling short and costing too much, then look at high-value cost reduction methods. Social media has proved itself to be an exceptional marketing tool for B2C (business to consumer) marketing.

# 3. Evolve to innovate

The wheel was invented in 3500 BC and began as a wooden kind-of circle. Now look at the wheels of today – tyres of various sizes, materials and treads. Over time we have taken the wheel and improved it. Naturally it has evolved as we have.

Example of a virtual store (Homeplus)

Example of a virtual store (Homeplus)

Your business needs to do the same, otherwise it will be an ancient wooden wheel next to an elegant rubber tyre.

It’s still a wheel, and it’s purpose hasn’t changed. All that transpired is new research, ideas and technology, that have prompted us to ask the questions

  • ‘Can we make this better?’
  • ‘Is there another way?’
  • ‘Considering how people ‘drive’, do they need something else/more?’

In pursuit of being better, finding another way or considering differing needs means being willing to explore the possibility that what we have needs to change. That’s a powerful thought (and not always an easy one).

Innovation has been hailed recently as Ireland’s way out of the ‘R’ phase. If we’re honest, innovation was always the smart way of beckoning in a new normal. Innovation caused people to take notice – both staff members and the public. So how can a retailer use innovation to stay in business?

It’s one of my favorites and crops up on numerous occasions, but Tescos virtual stores was an innovation that really paid off. First in Korea and then onto Gatwick, UK, virtual stores are made for the people of today. Why? Today’s people are time-conscious, are increasingly using smartphones for longer periods and for more than calls. They are drawn to technology and virtual stores are located at points where the majority commute or convene.

These are just a few ways that retailers can consider thinking about in order to stay stable in the marketplace. If you are a retailer, comment with some of the recent changes you’ve made to your business or the struggles you’re experiencing.

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Socially Interactive Street-Based Digital Campaigns Tue, 29 Jan 2013 12:26:50 +0000 At last - digital is finally becoming accessible in a place that we can all appreciate it to the full - the street! As radical digital advancements move offline, not only are we seeing the technology divide slip away, but we can experience digital is a more physical (and natural) way.

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At last – digital and social are finally becoming accessible in a place that we can all appreciate it to the full – the street! As digital advancements move offline, not only are we seeing the technology divide slip away, but we can experience digital in a more physical (and natural) way. This post discusses three stories of socially interactive street-based digital campaigns that will expand the boundaries of what digital can do.

Social scientists for years have used the ‘street’ as a way of observing, analysing and reporting on social interactions. Although we may refer to the street as a metaphor – Facebook could be classed as a ‘street’ for fans and Small Business Can a ‘street’ for small business owners; the physical street shows engagement in it’s truest and most natural form.

Story 1: Socially interactive QR Codes on the Pavement

QR Codes are scrambled images that can be scanned by smartphones to direct you to a digital location (web page, social media page, map, event page). For the rapidly growing smartphone population, QR Codes are ideal marketing tools for increasing goal conversions in real time. Due to popularity and availability of wireless internet, QR usage has proved an instant success.

BUT, what if you could take QR Codes to the next level. What if, instead of printing them on flyers or business cards and waiting for wannabee customers/clients to come to you, you created your QR codes in the most public, socially-interactive zone on the planet? I’m talking about a place that the whole world has in the common; the street.

Well in Rio De Janeiro that’s exactly what they did with this socially interactive street-based digital campaign. In a bid to ‘pave’ the way for the 2016 Olympics, the travel sector has again come up trumps. All across Rio you’ll see QR Codes on the pavements. If you scan them, you’ll be presented with tourist information on historical monuments and maps of the area.

Story 2: Burberry and the Offline Digital Store

Whilst it isn’t exactly the street, a retail store is not dissimilar in that it works as a highly engaging social zone. The act of shopping fulfils a social need in a feel-good setting. Popularity again makes it an ideal spot for a digital-social interaction.

Burberry’s flagship London store has been modelled on the website, so that the customer experience mirrors the online one. That’s clothes embedded with chips which activate when you look in the mirror, so that you can view the item on the catwalk and see how it was made. There are checkouts that come to you and in-store iPads.

This kind of digital-social upgrade has transported Burberry into a digital-savvy retailer that understands the power of social in the real world. It works as a benchmark for all other retailers to follow and it will be interesting to see who accepts the challenge to join them.

Burberry also upped the outdoor social ante with QR Codes on clothes tags during Catwalk shows and live streamed events.

Story 3: TNT Benelux Sells Public Drama with a Socially Interactive Red Button

This story starts in a quiet Belgium square, where those seeking drama could click a red button with the arrowed remark ‘Push to add drama’. And boy if you’re brave enough, do you get a reward!

TNT Benelux set up this social promotion to share TV drama by creating a kind of ‘flash mob’ style event. When the red button was pressed, a dramatic scene was played out in front of the public’s eyes.

This socially interactive street-based digital campaign cleverly represents the dramatic tone of the TV channel and despite it being location-based, the ‘viral’ video of the enactment became one of the most viewed globally.

[youtube width=”645″ height=”344″][/youtube]

These are just a few street-based digital examples and I know there are countless more, but do you know of any unbelievable ones you can share?

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