It was only 10 years ago when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone. Nobody can deny its impact on our world since, in ways we never imagined. Look at all the things the iPhone and other smartphones have replaced - simple items such as the calculator, clock and flashlight. And many more that it has not just replaced but significantly improved, such as calendars, maps and cameras. For many people, it has even replaced their need for a computer. It’s incredible to think that we now carry all this utility around in a device so small it fits in a pocket. No wonder we find it so convenient and invaluable. One would think that everything is better on a smartphone but it’s not. No matter how amazing technology is, it can be more of a hindrance than a blessing for relationships.
If you go through life with your eyes glued to your smartphone, you will fail to notice opportunities to connect with people around you. This article illustrates how putting your phone away can lead to conversations you would miss otherwise. If you’re looking for a relationship of the romantic kind, you should know that your phone can be a turn-off. This study by Plenty of Fish was conducted across 2,000 people of all genders and ages, from 17 to 80+. The number one deal breaker on a date, according to 19% of those surveyed, is someone looking down at their phone. Better to put it away if you want to give serendipity or love a chance.
When it comes to existing relationships, I can’t deny the benefits smartphones offer for staying in touch, especially with those far away. I was thankful for my iPhone when one of my closest friends moved to another continent years ago. Facetime, Whatsapp, Facebook and email have kept us more in tune with each other’s lives than telephone and snail mail could. But our friendship became what it is over years of time spent together, in-person. It wouldn’t be what it is today if it had developed solely online.
Not only is it impossible to build deep relationships through smartphones alone, they also can have a negative impact on a relationship. Phubbing is a term used for snubbing others while in their company because you’re on your phone or other device. Though now a common behavior, it is inconsiderate and scientifically proven to weaken relationships. In addition, research shows that being phubbed can decrease peoples’ emotional well-being by increasing their levels of stress and depression. I don’t think anyone would consciously choose to do that to family or friends but they are, frequently.
That tiny feeling of guilt that kicks in when you are focused on your phone around someone you care about is something you should pay attention to. Spending time together in person and connecting in a profound way is what builds deep relationships - the type of relationship that can last for years, withstanding the ups and downs of life. So, go ahead and enjoy the benefits your smartphone offers. But remember to put it down often enough and long enough to start, grow and cherish the relationships in your life. As wonderful as your device is, it is replaceable - what you have with your spouse, child, friend, parent and others, is not.
Email marketing was one of the earliest forms of online advertising. I remember working on the Brita business at DDB in San Francisco over 15 years ago. We developed their first CRM program, which included an opt-in email newsletter. Compared to now, the emails were pretty basic but even then we knew enough to tailor the content according to the reason they purchased Brita – for taste or for health reasons. Our goal was to be relevant and provide value based on their interests.
Technology has evolved significantly since then and yet some days it seems like it hasn’t, based on the emails I receive from some advertisers. They certainly look a lot better now but it’s surprising how many don’t allow for basic customization. As a result, they are not sending me information I want. A few simple options could turn this around, making the content I receive something I value. I’ll share a recent example from a national retailer in the sports apparel category. They could have allowed me to choose womenswear only or select the sports I’m interested in. Instead, I received email after email with the stuff I wanted to hear about buried in all the stuff they wanted to tell me about. So what happened? I unsubscribed. End of useless interruption for me. End of opportunity for them.
Unlike other online advertising, email is a format that consumers actually like. Findings from a recent global study by Rakuten Marketing revealed that consumers see emails as the second most valued online ad format (only coupon links are more valued). This makes sense when you consider that 80% of U.S. consumers stated that ads are of value when they align with their needs. In addition, 80% said advertising is acceptable when content is useful and doesn’t interrupt their online experience. Done well, email is a great advertising opportunity.
So, how can you make the most of email marketing? Customization is key. This is easy and should be the norm, given how far technology has advanced since my days on Brita. And yet, of the 2,500 people surveyed online, 80% said that online advertising has not improved over time, on any device or platform. This opinion is even stronger among women, who were 13% more likely than men to say it’s worse. The biggest issue U.S. consumers expressed with online advertising is frequency, with 61% saying they are too frequent. At minimum, you should provide consumers with frequency options. Then, give them choices to customize the content you provide. When they get to choose, you are much more likely to gain and retain a coveted place in their InBox.
Whether you decide to use email marketing or other online advertising formats, always be relevant and respectful. As the saying goes, “we have the technology.” Make sure you use it to create a better online marketing experience so you win over customers and grow your business.
Imagine walking into a restaurant and seeing the biggest buffet ever. There are tables and tables of food, as far as you can see. And they are covered with everything imaginable - from American BBQ to Indian curries, from fresh and healthy to sinfully decadent, and everything in between. You see so many of your favourite dishes and many others that are unfamiliar but tempting all the same. And best of all, it’s all-you-can-eat! Now what do you do?
Most people would dive right in, start with a little of this and a little of that until their plate is practically overflowing. Then they would go back for more, plate after plate, because it tastes so good and there are so many options, until they leave having overeaten and feeling disgusting. What starts out as an enjoyable experience could easily turn into a gastronomic nightmare.
I liken this experience to the Internet. Instead of food, it offers an unlimited amount of information on an all-you-can-eat basis. It’s up to us to determine what our limits are and too often we can’t control ourselves. We go online for one thing, see something else that looks interesting, follow endless links and completely lose track of time. While this doesn’t leave us feeling disgusting like overeating does, it definitely can have a negative impact on our relationships, productivity, sleep, and general emotional wellbeing.
Now admittedly, I’m not a big fan of buffets. I find the volume of food overwhelming so I prefer to order off a menu but sometimes they are unavoidable. So, over the years, I have developed a few strategies to help me cope with the vastness they offer and walk away feel satisfied, instead of sick to my stomach. I think these strategies could also be helpful in reducing our Internet consumption, so we spend less time online.
I hope these strategies help you both online and on the less frequent occasions when you happen to find yourself facing a buffet. Bon appétit!
I have a curious mind and many interests. I like to spend time musing about things and this is where some of my musings end up. I would love to hear from you if you have a thought or question you'd like to add. Conversation is always appreciated.