Smart Homes Might Just Be The Future

Posted by on July 2nd, 2015

Smart AppliancesThe debate of traditional websites vs. downloadable apps is an ongoing conversation for marketers, but the end goal remains the same… giving consumers access to the information they need, right when they need it. As we continue to compare each option and weigh the pros and cons to maximize our marketing efforts, new technologies may be monopolizing the argument for downloadable apps and making industry-wide decisions for everyone. With Google’s® recent announcement of two innovative technologies that empower specific devices with technological “smarts,” those who are on “Team Website” may have taken a hit.

Google’s Brillo operating system and Project Weave take the idea of offering consumers real-time access to information more than one step further. Brillo is a streamlined version of the Android™ mobile operating system designed for internet-connected devices such as appliances, farm equipment and vending machines.1 Imagine wanting to cook your steak a particular way and instead of reaching for your phone and looking it up on Google, just asking your stove instead. All you have to do is download the app for that specific appliance onto your device, and the convenience and ease of “smart” appliances gives consumers access to information they need, quicker than even typing it in.

Taking this innovation even another step forward comes Project Weave, a type of coded language that allows seamless and secure communication between devices.2 Imagine that when your alarm goes off, your coffee maker knows its time to start brewing. Then, 20-minutes after your coffee is done brewing, your car knows its time to start, heat up your seats and maybe even pick you up from your front door. This new innovation allows for all those things to happen. Once your appliances start communicating with one another, day-to-day life is easier. Mundane tasks are taken care of by a machine, offering consumers one of the best gifts they could have asked for — more time.

So what does this mean for websites, apps and the future of marketing? Websites may no longer be the number one place for people to visit if they can simply ask a device what they want to know. Apps linked with appliances and mobile devices might take care of all consumers’ needs and wants… in real-time. While both these innovations are in the beginning stages and have kinks to work through or features to add, the direction this technology is heading signifies a larger focus on ease for the consumer with little interaction needed on a website.





Venus and Mars Both Bank

Posted by on June 25th, 2015

Gender BankingMany experts have weighed in on the differences between how the genders tend to approach financial issues. Everything I’ve read suggests men have more debt and more savings, partially because of higher incomes. Yet when marketing banking services, best practices tend to skew communications toward the female who generally handles the family’s banking and sorts the household mail. However, as communications become more targeted and are delivered to individuals rather than households (thanks in large part to individual email addresses), marketing might be well-served by acknowledging different approaches to money management and spending based on both gender and age.

After decades in financial marketing, I just ran across a new term for the first time — money snacking or those smaller purchases that can really add up, just like those insidious calories that accumulate the pounds after mindless munching. I admit I fit embarrassingly well into the stereotype of the typical female money snacker… baulking at any high ticket purchase, while thinking nothing of acquiring yet another pair of black shoes, something most men can’t fathom.

Of course, these are just generalizations. There are men with black belts in shopping and women sitting in homes furnished with little other than high-end stereo equipment, but recognizing valid archetypes can help marketers tip the odds in their favor. This doesn’t mean simply swapping out the gender of the person in a photo; it’s about customizing the message to tightly align with the financial inclinations of the reader. The industry buzz is to target Millennials with positioning designed to meet their needs, but doesn’t that principle apply to all account holders? Don’t adult males also have financial needs that banks and credits unions can profitably meet? As technology and communications advance, so does our ability to target messages to be as relevant as possible.

For the first time since the government began tracking these stats in 1976, more than half of people in the United States are single.1 That clearly suggests that not every prospect household financial institutions are targeting for new checking accounts has a woman at the helm managing the family’s finances. Younger adults and males are taking charge of their banking and investment decisions, and our ability to use targeted digital communications to reach them has never been better. Now let’s ensure the messages we send through those channels are equality relevant.


1. CityLab/the Martin Prosperity Institute


First There Were Millennials, Now There Is Generation Z

Posted by on June 23rd, 2015

Generation ZEach generation has come with its own label. First came the Boomers, then Generation X and most recently, Millennials, so what’s next? Many researchers are referring to this group as Generation Z, or anyone 18-and-younger, and according to AdAge, this group makes up about 2 billion people worldwide.1 With the oldest of this generation approaching their final years as teenagers and some receiving nearly $20 per week in allowance,2 Gen Z is becoming the next target audience for brands. But in an age where technology is so prevalent, what makes this generation different than Millennials, and how should marketers adjust their strategies?

First off, Gen Z didn’t come-of-age during the digital revolution like Millennials, they were born into it. Focusing on social and digital strategies is a must, and it will not likely change… ever. This generation doesn’t just have a smartphone… they most likely have a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop and iPod, and they tend to interact with each regularly. The roles these devices play in their lives are extremely significant, because they know nothing else. These are their main forms of communication — their lifelines. This generation is extremely connected. A recent study found that 73 percent were actively sending and receiving messages and/or logged on within one-hour of waking up.3 They know the scores to last night’s game, have discussed their morning plans with their friends and watched a funny video all before the rest of us have had our morning coffee.

While Millennials know their way around the “founding fathers” of social media channels, like Facebook®, Twitter® and YouTube®, Gen Z takes it further. Along with the aforementioned, they interact with Vine®, Snapchat®, Instagram® and Pinterest®. In fact, 93 percent of Gen Z said they visit YouTube at least once a day, and more than half check out the video platform multiple times a day.4 A strategically placed website banner or Facebook advertisement no longer makes the cut. To reach this group, it’s important to streamline your message across multiple social networks. Although most are using five or more social media channels, they are using each equally. To get their attention, it’s important you are visible on all of them. Successful brands create 2-minute videos on YouTube, 15-second videos on Instagram and 6-second videos on Vine, which are then posted to Facebook walls and Twitter feeds.

Similarly to Millennials, Gen Z uses the internet to gather information and make decisions. But instead of going to email first to find targeted content, they turn to social media and RSS feed apps. They believe they can do most tasks themselves with just a little research. To adhere to this mindset, it is important to offer tools that facilitate learning, whether it’s an easily digestible how-to guide or an educational video. Then, they share this new information with their friends over social media, through text messages or within a specific online community dedicated to that topic.

At first glance it may seem that Millennials and Generation Z aren’t that different. But upon further research, it is clear the level of connectedness and their preferred methods of communications is where there is juxtaposition. Their communities are online. Use these arenas for product focused promotions, educational videos and quick-read guides. Getting a jump on this group now will help you put your best foot forward as technology continues to advance with each generation.


1. Bernstein, Ruth. (21, January, 2015). “Move Over Millennials – Here Comes Gen Z.”

2. Glum, Julia. (13, January 2015). “ Marketing to Generation Z: Millennials Move Aside as Brands Shift Focus to Under-18 Customers.” International Business Times.

3. “Generation Z: A Look At The Technology And Media Habits of Today’s Teens.”

4. “Generation Z: A Look At The Technology And Media Habits of Today’s Teens.”


Mobilegeddon Came & Went, Is It Safe To Come Out Now?

Posted by on June 18th, 2015

MobilegeddonRepent or suffer the flaming pits of second page search results! Or, adapt and update your website’s mobile presence… Because, all apocalyptic rhetoric aside, this is a good thing.

A few weeks ago Google® released some major changes to its search algorhythm, specifically concerning mobile friendly websites. Now that the dust has settled, how does the new landscape look? Just how major were these changes? Depends on whom you ask.

The update earned its “-geddon” suffix primarily because it was estimated it would affect more websites than Panda or Penguin did. In the weeks following its release, it had a significant impact, but whether it rises to such lofty cataclysms is still up for debate.1 If your website was already mobile-friendly, there’s a 30 percent chance your search engine results page (SERP) ranking improved. BUT, if your site is non-mobile friendly, there is a whopping 46.6 percent chance you lost ground.2

(It’s worth noting, this update affected mobile searches only. Desktop searches weren’t affected at all. That’s a small comfort, though, as mobile search continues to outpace desktop searches).

So was your site affected? Well if your traffic has suddenly plummeted (or skyrocketed), then you might be on to something. But don’t take my word for it — test your site to see if it passes. If it needs work, the good news is that it’s not too late to fix. Google has provided a Mobile SEO Guide to help facilitate conversion. Take advantage of Google’s help. It’s pretty rare Google gives developers and designers notice of algorhythm changes, let alone guidance on how to best navigate the changing tides.

Why does Google bother providing help at all? Because, search is something done primarily on mobile devices and sending users to non-mobile friendly websites that explode in a menagerie of overlapping tables and frames or shrink to infinitesimal sizes requiring enough pinching and dragging to give you finger cramps is exactly the poor experience that can make a user start thinking about giving Bing another look. So, Google did what it does best and changed the rules to provide users with more websites that work on mobile devices.

Some marketers have labeled this “Mobilegeddon,” which is fun to say but only relevant if you’re the owner of one of the unprepared sites that was swept downpage in its wake. It might be more accurate, however, to term it the “Mobile-revolution”, which is decidedly less fun to say, but conveys the populist, consumer-centric nature of the change. Websites that resisted becoming mobile-friendly before (maybe they thought it was just a fad? Surely rotary phones are due for a comeback) are now having their hands forced. Make your site viewable on mobile devices, or it’s going to be buried pages back in search results amongst abandoned MySpace profiles and the ghosts of internet cafes that went out of business in 1998. The revolution is here, and it’s on a fingerprint covered 4” screen.





Harland Clarke Named To OTA Honor Roll For Fourth Straight Year

Posted by on June 17th, 2015

OTA LogoSAN ANTONIO (June 106, 2015)— The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) has named Harland Clarke Digital to the 2015 Online Trust Honor Roll for the fourth straight yearThe Online Trust Honor Roll recognizes excellence in data protection, privacy and security for websites and mobile applications. The OTA is a nonprofit organization that collaborates with industry leaders to enhance online trust and develops best practices and tools for businesses, helping provide a safe and secure user experience for their customers.

“It’s an honor to be named to the OTA Online Trust Honor Roll for the fourth year in a row,” said Mike Ferguson, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Harland Clarke Digital. “We continue to support OTA’s efforts to encourage best practices and enhance online trust.”

Read more