Technology

Direct Marketing: Who Does It Well?


I was recently asked who I think are some of the best direct response marketers today.  This is what I said:

I have chosen four brands that showcase different aspects of excellence in DR marketing: American Express, JetBlue, Target and Starbucks.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.17.29 PMAmerican Express:

American Express is a good example of a marketer that uses modeling, and mail/offer testing effectively. It also uses a wide range of channels, from mobile/geolocation to direct mail, email, social and telemarketing, and has even experimented with addressable television.

American Express uses its reserve of transactional and other data to target and space offers and to reach customers through their individually preferred channels. I personally receive and respond to offers via my mobile device through the geolocation application foursquare. These offers are timely, relevant and easy to redeem. Once I have “unlocked” a special offer, American Express applies the discount directly to my statement. This program originated as a way to drive activity for AMEX’s small business customers; however, it is equally valuable for card members. The direct application of the rebate to a card holder’s statement resulted from research that showed that members often feel uncomfortable or inconvenienced by having to show a coupon at a restaurant or other place of business.

American Express offers are tied to segmentation such as the type of card or specific activity. For example, Gold card members receive a Platinum offer every 3-4 months, a customer who shops at Petsmart might receive a $10 offer for a future purchase there, and someone who travels might receive offers related to places he or she has visited or for a traditional AMEX product set such as Sign and Travel.

My understanding is that American Express dedicates 15% of its budget to testing. This reflects the brand’s commitment to continuous learning, using controls and checks, trying new things, tweaking, and defining and tracking measures of success.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.09.49 PMJetBlue:

JetBlue uses DR marketing more for relationship building than acquisition. They manage the relationship with their patrons in a structured and fun way that clearly reflects the brand’s personality.

JetBlue is a good example of brand that demonstrates its relevance to the customer, expresses itself in its own voice, and delivers timely and appropriate messages. In addition, the brand and the message stand out and add value to the relationship for both parties.

The JetBlue birthday email depicted here is simple, unexpected, quick and to the point. It recognizes the fact that people are likely to fly around the time of their birthday and offers a potential bonus for flying with JetBlue.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.23.04 PMJetBlue uses social channels such as twitter for both promotion and customer service. In this twitter exchange, you can see the airline’s promotional offer: “Spread yur wings & try an exciting new destination w/ flgts from $59.” The message is short and enticing with an effective call to action and means to take action by clicking on the link. Note that the reach of this offer has been amplified by being retweeted. In addition, this exchange demonstrates how JetBlue’s social customer care presence is consistent with its brand personality. The response from the JetBlue representative to M Schackne is energetic, playful, timely and personal – showing a consistency across channels.

19cover2-sfSpan-v3Target:

Target used sophisticated statistical modeling to identify mothers-to-be by mapping buying behaviors of loyalty card members to those who had signed up for baby registries – thus giving Target access to a highly profitable customer segment.

Because birth records are usually public, new parents are immediately inundated by all kinds of offers and advertisements, so the Holy Grail is to reach these parents before their child is born. Target was able to pinpoint customers who were pregnant and even estimate their due date. This allowed them to send extremely targeted offers to drive in-store traffic. Some say that this strategy of reaching new families and making them loyal Target customers was key to Target’s revenue growth of $44 billion in 2002 to $67 billion in 2010.

Target’s strategy became public due to a New York Times article that featured a story in which Target knew that a teenager was pregnant before she had told her family. This story highlights the fine line between relevant and “creepy” that direct marketers must navigate in this age of big data and personalization. DR marketing is permission based, and we must be careful not to impose upon customers’ good will and sense of comfort.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 2.20.41 PMStarbucks

Starbucks uses digital, particularly mobile, channels to integrate itself into the day-to-day lives of its customers, from “home to store to home.”

Through its mobile application, Starbucks sends offers that range from value added items such as free music and applications to specific offers to try new products for free or at a discount.

Starbucks also uses this channel to provide loyalty rewards, which include free products. Other offers encourage and enable customers to serve as advocates by, for example, tweeting promotional offers to friends.

 


The Marketing Funnel – Should You or Shouldn’t You?


I was recently asked whether I organize my marketing thinking along a demand or marketing funnel.  This question brought to mind a set of two blog posts (“Advertising Week 2011 Key Themes” and “And, uh the a ha is“) from October 2011 covering Advertising Week.  I have included the relevant sections below.  While I am still refining my answer to this question, this is my initial response:

  1. On many occasions, I do organize my thinking along a demand or marketing funnel. It depends upon the specific marketing initiative or challenge.  I find the marketing funnel useful when addressing macro issues such as the role of “upper funnel” awareness communication vs. “lower funnel” direct response activities – and how these should be coordinated or integrated.  It is also a valuable framework for ensuring that a brand reaches its target customers at each stage of the path to purchase with the right message at the right time and using the right medium or platform.
  2. The metaphor of a funnel in which the number of prospects or size of the consideration set becomes more focused in each phase is less relevant in today’s non-linear, iterative digital and social environment. Today’s framework is more of a decision journey loop with a consideration set that may contract and/or expand along the way and in which post-purchase communication and activities such as social sharing and an ongoing dialog are crucial.
  3. I often use a customer journey map or customer-specific path to purchase that incorporates the way in which consumers move from one platform to another as they interact with a brand. This approach frequently includes the development of customer personas and/or the identification of moments of truth.  It has its origins in the marketing funnel and is an expansion of it.

And, Uh, the A Ha Is: 

The ruling on the purchase funnel is not final.  Most agree publicly that the traditional funnel, e.g., awareness, consideration, intent, purchase, loyalty – or as I was taught in business school, AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Acquisition, needs to be updated.  The patch to purchase is no longer a straight line.  The funnel of choice seems to be the McKinsey oval, which you can view in my summary of the panel.   (No mention of the Forrester “path to purchase” in the age of social engagement – see below).

The key takeaways are that:

(a) the process is iterative and circular

(b) must include advocacy

(c) many include “loyalty,” but that’s not new, that’s just “adoption.”

However, when we got to the TV panels, the upward and lower funnel nomenclature was still front & center.  A disconnect?

Figure I: Forrester Path to Purchase in the Age of Social Engagement

Customer Journey in the age of social media – Forrester

Figure II: Harvard Business Review – Traditional Funnel and McKinsey Consumer Decision Journey

Advertising Week 2011 Key Themes:

The Funnel (aka Path to Purchase and Consumer Decision Journey) – The traditional funnel is outdated.  However, much of the terminology has survived and/or been incorporated to the new, bright shiny (Mustard colored) circular tubes.   There is some consensus about the fact that the process is no longer linear but more of a circular conversation. – However, the term “funnel” as well as “top” and “bottom” of funnel and stages such as awareness, consideration, acquisition were used frequently, particularly by CMOs.  However… the funnel must include advocacy.  (Social, social, social)  And, the funnel is iterative and, well, free flow.

Pinterest Comes Home


When I first joined pinterest, it was, as its name suggests, a virtual pin board where I would explore and share my interests and passions visually.  The first passion I brought to life was tennis, starting, of course, with Rafael Nadal.  My “Tennis” board was a form of visual poetry as I sought to assign just one word to each compelling or inspirational photo.

I then moved on to the creation of a “Recent Indulgences” board where I could document and share recent purchases.  This was something I had been doing on Facebook for many years by way of a photo album by that name, so the jump to pinterest was quite natural.  And the fact that I could simultaneously share these images with Facebook and Twitter made this an easy transition and enhancement.

Home Furnishings

More recently, I found myself in the position of shopping for a new desk.  As I surfed the Internet and came across items that seemed to fit my need and that I found visually appealing, I found that uploading these images to pinterest was a wonderful way to keep track of the items I discovered.  In fact, by creating a “Desk” pinboard, I was able to see the commonalities across the pieces of furniture I pinned and get a better sense of what I was looking for.  It also prompted me to expand my search by exploring a new direction.  This time around, I did not need to use the handy “pin it” button I had installed a few years back as I discovered that virtually every eRetailer had a pinterest widget incorporated into their website.  Clearly pinterest has become a table stakes component of online retailing.

Pottery Barn Pin It Button

Now that I had this nice compilation of desks, I was able to share my ideas with friends and get their input.  In fact, one friend commented that what I really seemed to need was a new desk chair for the table I had been using rather than a new desk, and so my pin board became about “Desks and Chairs.”

Another element that was really wonderful was that when I pinned an item that someone else had also uploaded to pinterest, I was given an option to click through to that person’s pin board, which invariably provided new inspiration and led me to new websites and retailers featured in the pin board I visited.

Pinterest ExampleI’ve now expanded my board from desks to “Home Furnishings” as I explore dresser options as well.  So pinterest has continued to be a form of visual exploration and expression.  But it has now become a crucial part of my online shopping experience.

I recently overheard someone say that pinterest is not about what people have but about what they wish they had – as if this were some kind of dark secret.  I recalled that when Myspace first came into being it gave teenagers an opportunity to portray themselves however they wanted without being limited by the size, look or location of their actual home.  In this case, the aspirational nature of pinterest is open, exciting and powerful – just like the pin boards of our youth.

Mobile Facts Change So Fast! – a repository for key mobile stats and facts (2011+)


On at least three occasions, I have written posts that incorporated a summary of notable stats about mobile apps and the mobile space in general to set the scene for a topical discussion.  But the facts change so fast that I was continuously updating the posts, and the posts had a tendency to grow and grow at the rate of foursquare subscribers.  (See here for 2010 post) So, I’m starting afresh and focusing specifically on notable mobile facts starting with these:

A mobile marketing strategy is a must-have for retailers - and, I would venture, anyone that sells products to consumers.  In fact, with today’s predictive marketing capabilities, retailers and marketers can target purchase intenders at the time and place of potential purchase.

Nine out of 10 smartphone shoppers use their phone for “pre-shopping” activities like finding store locations, comparing prices and reading product reviews. Source: Google via Shop.org Think Tank. 07/24/2013

Teens and Mobile (July 2011 data, except where noted) – Pew Research:

  • As of July 2011, 77% of teens have a cell phone (Teens, Smartphones & Texting).
  • Older teens ages 14 to 17 are substantially more likely to have a cell phone than younger teens ages 12 and 13 – 87% of older teens have a cell phone, compared with 57% of younger teens.
  • 23% of teens have a smartphone; 54% have a regular cell phone (or are not sure what kind of phone they have), and another 23% of teens do not have a cell phone at all.
  • Overall, half (49%) of all American teens have gone online on their mobile phones in the last 30 days.
  • The bulk of teens are 12 or 13 when they get their first cell phone (see: Is the age at which kids get cell phones getting younger?)(September 2009).
  • See more in the Teens, Smartphones & Texting report.

Teens and Communication choices (July 2011, except where noted) – Pew Research:

Texting dominates teens’ general communication choices. Overall, 75% of all teens text, and 63% say that they use text to communicate with others every day.

  • 39% of teens make and receive voice calls on their mobile phones every day.
  • 35% of all teens socialize with others in person outside of school on a daily basis.
  • 29% of all teens exchange messages daily through social network sites.
  • 22% of teens use instant messaging daily to talk to others.
  • 19% of teens talk on landlines with people in their lives daily.
  • 6% of teens exchange email daily.

Teens and Texting (July 2011, except where noted) – Pew Research:

The volume of texting among teens has risen from a median 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the typical teen text user.

Older girls remain the most enthusiastic texters, with a median of 100 texts a day in 2011, compared with 50 for boys the same age.

Click here for more on what teens do with their phones.

26% of American teens of driving age say they have texted while driving, and 48% of all teens ages 12 to 17 say they’ve been a passenger while a driver has texted behind the wheel (September 2009 survey; see Teens and Distracted Driving)

This is the year of the Tablet:

About 68.7 million tablets shipped worldwide in 2011, according to IDC, which forecasts 106.1 million units to ship this year (April 17, 2012)

Smart Phones have reached the tipping point:

86% of mobile internet users are using their devices while watching TV.  Are people fast forwarding through your commercials or engaging with their smart phones while they’re on?  If so, has your commercial motivated them to do something related to your brand or prompted them to do something else to pass the time?

Android Apps Reach 400,000

In December 2011, Google celebrated their ten billionth Android app download, and now new research from mobile app analytics firm Distimo reports that there are 400,000 apps available in the Android Market. (Scroll all the way down for a post about Android apps reaching 90,000 in July 2010!)

Free apps make up a considerable portion of that 400,000, and Distimo’s research indicates that the ratio of free to paid apps has jumped from 60% to 68% over the last eight months. Distimo pegs the prevalence of free apps on the current popularity of the freemium  app economy, which also isn’t much of a surprise considering the potential payouts inherent to the model.

Mobile Is a Hotbed of VC

Mobile marketing was the most active segment within digital advertising for mergers, acquisitions and investments in 2011, according to a new report from marketing and media investment bank Petsky Prunier.

The iPad Revolution:

Only 13% of Web Traffic Is Mobile:

While mobile devices are expected to surpass laptops and desktops for accessing the Internet, they account for only 13% of web traffic today (still not shabby).  This is due in part to the lack of mobile optimized websites, a situation that is changing.  Within the 13%, more than 80% of comes from iPhone and iPads:

40% of Mobile Phones Are Smart Phones (Source: Nielsen)

Becoming the Primary Means for Accessing the Internet

Mobile devices and connected TVs are expected to overtake personal laptops within the next year as a means for accessing the Internet.  I hope your website is optimized for mobile and mobile search…

“I Love My MacBerry”  – Literally

  • A study using MRI scans showed evidence of not only addiction to iPhones but also Love.  (I admit it.  I’m hopelessly hooked.  I’m even willing to put up with the fact that my AT&T iPhone often hangs up on me.  Is that a sign of codependency?)

iPads, iPhones, iPods and More – How Many Were Sold in Apple’s 4Q 2011

  • The Company sold 17.07 million iPhones in the quarter, representing 21 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.
  • Apple sold 11.12 million iPads during the quarter, a 166 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. (That’s 20.37 million iPads in Apple’s fiscal 2011 2H – ALONE, which does not include what will likely be a huge holiday purchase season for the device, and annualizes to 44.5 million per year)
  • The Company sold 4.89 million Macs during the quarter, a 26 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter.
  • Apple sold 6.62 million iPods, a 27 percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter.

iPads, iPhones, iPods and More – How Many Were Sold in Apple’s 3Q 2011

  • 9.25 million iPads were sold during Apple’s 3rd quarter, 2011, up 183 % vs. year-ago (That would annualize to 37 million per year.)
  • 20.34 million iPhones were sold, up 142 percent vs. year ago (That’s a pretty nice stat – and impressive given growth of the Android.  A testament to the dramatic growth of smartphone in general)
  • (That means that nearly 30 million iPads and iPhones were sold this quarter.)
  • 3.95 million Macs, up 14 percent vs. year-ago (iPads cannibalizing Macs.  I would say, “yup.”  Especially laptops – by all manufacturers – and, perhaps MacBook Airs.  I think the Christmas season is going to blow the current iPad number out of the water)
  • 7.54 million iPods, a 20 percent unit decline from year-ago.  (I saw a young man on the subway today using the iPhone as an iPod with headphones – ironic as he had to hold the relatively large device.)
Observations,  Implications and Hypotheses:
  • Nearly 30 million iPhones and iPads were sold.  Compare that to less than 4 million Macs (laptops and desktops, up only 14 percent vs. year-ago) – and less than 8 million iPods, DOWN from year ago.  iPads and iPhones seem to be cannibalizing laptop, desktop and iPod sales.
  • More than twice as many iPads sold as Macs.  iPads are definitely cannibalizing laptop sales
  • iPad sales equivalent to 1/2 iPhone sales
  • In sum, iPads are HOT.  They’re starting to reach a tipping point from: it’s cool to have one to it’s not cool not to have one (I hope that made sense, i.e., it’s becoming embarrassing to not have one – I predict I’ll give into peer pressure within the year at most)
  • Quite a large increase in iPhone sales given growth of Android penetration; hence, it seems that the overall pie is heating up

Source: Apple 3Q earnings report

Being Mobile at Home

Don’t mistake mobile device usage with being mobile… A good chunk of time spent with smart phones, PDAs, iPads, eReaders and other such devices is spent at home.  Think about it.  Picture your well-wired friend – or maybe it’s you – with a laptop before you, a smartphone in your hand, an iPad on the sofa beside you, and an Internet connected TV shimmering its HD (or 3D) images from across the room.  In fact, the latest data from ComScore shows that tablets have the highest share of traffic for digital news consumption during evenings, beating out computers (as well as smart phones) in at-home news consumption. (Source: Moxie Pulse)  Moreover, GlobalWebIndex data suggests that, globally, half of those who access the mobile web do so from home or work, rather than while traveling or “roaming,” or while in a public place.

91 MM Americans Use Mobile Search

Overall, more than 91 million US consumers use the Internet through a mobile device at least monthly, and this increase in on-the-go web usage goes hand in hand with more search activity, particularly for local content.  20% of mobile search users do so almost every day.

Meanwhile, the debate between App and Wap (ok, browser) continues, with mobile search engine usage currently exceeding search via apps by 70% as of August 2011 – According to Yahoo! and Ipsos, via eMarketer.

Facts from Jimmy Wales at OMMA Global (September 26, 2011)

  • One out of every two Americans owns a smartphone [whoah, that’s DOUBLE the 25% shown for Q2 2010 if you scroll down]
  • 15.1 million tablets shipped worldwide (I have seen other numbers for this metric that I will add to this post… Ok, eMarketer is estimating 24MM for 2011 and 46MM in 2012)

Android is #1 U.S. Mobile Operating System – Q2 2011

  • As of June 2011, the Android operating system accounted for 39% of the total U.S. mobile market, making it the #1 mobile operating system in the country.
  • Apple maintains its share of 28% share, while Blackberry OS from RIM (Research in Motion)  has fallen from market leadership (nearly 40% in 2009 – scroll down) to third position with only 20% market share.
  • These three operating systems (representing 87% of the market) are followed by Windows Mobile/WP7 (9%), Palm/HP Web OS (2%), and Nokia’s Symbian OS (2%)
  • Apple is the leading handset maker in the United States whilst Android is the top mobile operating system. (Nielsen)
  • Apple overtook Nokia to become the world’s leading smartphone vendor in July (Nielsen research and IDC figures)
  • According to a report by the NPD Group, the Android operating system accounted for 52% of the smartphones sold in the second quarter of 2011, up from 36 percent sold in Q1 2011 according to previous data by Gartner.


Timehop Abe – It’s Nice To Wake Up with You


If you have not already invited Timehop Abe into your life, I highly recommend it.  Timehop Abe sends me an email each morning recapping my social activity from one year before.  Personally, I find this to be extraordinarily interesting.  It puts things in perspective to be reminded what I was thinking about and experiencing a year before.  Do I feel the same way today?  Are my observations still relevant?  Was I doing something particularly fun or interesting?  How has my life progressed?  Am I about to attend the US Open exactly one year from the last time I did so?

This morning I woke up to a quite lengthy recap of my Twitter posts from OMMA Global, which took place September 26th, 2012 – an interesting reminder on the eve of Advertising Week 2012, which includes OMMA Global.  I imagine OMMA schedules during that week in order to take advantage of the energy and the presence of those from out of town.  Unfortunately, for me, I prefer to sample the smorgasbord of Ad Week panels throughout the city vs. dedicating a day to OMMA Global, which is a shame.

In any case, as I reviewed my entries, I had two observations: (1) Most, if not all, are completely relevant today.  (2) Some are more relevant today because the topics or initiatives were just being born a year ago and have become mainstream, such as AMEX’s foursquare program, which has now branched out into other social media such as Twitter. (I see that I quoted Zuckerberg several times.  Was he there?Have I seen the great Founder in person? I don’t recall – though I could certainly look this up…)

Hence, since the majority of my observations are still of interest, I thought I would start my day by sharing them with you.  What do you think?  Are they still relevant and thought provoking?  I have added some of my own comments.

#1 This was the beginning of an ongoing – friendly – battle for mayorship of my apartment building with my doorman, several years since I created the venue.  I don’t believe that anyone else in the building has ever signed in.

#3 “Native Monetization.”  I don’t recall hearing this phrase since the conference.  However, a quick Google search does reveal some discussion:

“Native advertising is a new form of inventory that seamlessly integrates promoted content from brand advertisers into the fabric of a site itself. Native advertising inventory is content that’s part of the site experience rather than ads that interrupt users, such as pre-roll video ads or boxes, buttons, and banners on the corners of pages. Facebook’s Sponsored Stories are one of the largest bets on native advertising in the ad industry – a bet that’s consistent with the ad strategies of the dominant social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, StumbleUpon and the coming ad products from the next wave of internet elite like Tumblr and Spotify” – Dan Greenberg, TechCrunch

I hope this does not include those incredibly annoying and interruptive “Pages You May Like” posts on my Facebook news feed.

Whoops – I have a conference call in 15 minutes.  More later…

Social Media Tidbits II


Visit me here – or on Pinterest – for social media tidbits I find share-worthy.  Share with me your thoughts and infographics you fancy.

Women dominate Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Zynga.  Men dominate Reddit, Google+ and LinkedIn.  Net, net, women are heavier users of social media.

So fantastic!  But… don’t blink, or this LUMAscape will be out of date.  Pinterest? (posted July 2012)

67% of consumers uncomfortable with Facebook’s use of data (July 2012)

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet – 100 million strong — 21 million active in U.S.

Social Media and Recruiting:

Using Facebook during the workday?  Sure!

Which Social Media Activity Do Companies Feel Benefit Them the Most?

I suspect this varies by company, e.g., a customer service/complaint/service oriented company such as Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Bank of America, etc., might rank customer support higher.  As Ted Schadler wrote in “Empowered,” customer service has become a form of marketing.  Think Zappos and Virgin America.

Geolocation: What Art Thou to Me? Part VII


Welcome to the continuation of a day in the life of geolocation and me.  Not really a day but several years.  I started keeping this little journal (in chronological rather than blog order…) several years ago (three?) when I first met Baratunde Thurston and Dennis Crowley and joined Foursquare.  I was so fascinated by the “game” from so many perspectives: a user, the founders, national marketers, local retailers, data junkies like myself.  So, in the name of good ethnographic and social anthropological research, I started keeping this journal of my time with geolocation.  I welcome you to check it out should you like to share my thoughts:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Little to no mention of geolocation here at Social Media Week NYC thus far. Get Glue (not really LBS) was represented on a panel. No sign of Dennis Crowley. Pinterest and Instagram (which does have a bit of a geolocation aspect) are all the talk at the moment.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Facebook has recently enabled Near Field Communication (NFC). Is this this first step towards social commerce such that you can transact within the social environment as you can within the Facebook newsfeed?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Starting in August 2011, I have posted several entries about Amex’s foursquare program. (See, for example, January 13th above.) For more insight and information, check out this live stream video of a Social Media Week panel. As a consumer, I did not realize at first that the strategy came from the B2B perspective, i.e., as a value add/service for AMEX’s small business customers (AMEX Open). The consumer insight was that AMEX cardholders, especially affluent ones, don’t want to pull out coupons or even show their foursquare checkin to a waiter or clerk. This way, by activating a special offer by simply checking in on foursquare and getting the discount credited directly to the user’s AMEX account, it can all be done discreetly (and simply). Now that I’ve got it all connected, I really like it, although… I haven’t had any relevant check-in specials pop up recently. Maybe I need to get out more.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dennis Crowley (the founder of Foursquare) is starring in an ad for Best Buy and Samsung smart phones.  Does that mean Foursquare is in the public consciousness or that smart phones have gone mainstream. Or both? I have to remind myself that there are people who don’t have smart phones. In fact there are people who don’t have access as to the Internet, as evidenced by a public service campaign I saw recently.  To the second point, I recently had a moment of insight during a recent trip to Atlanta.  As I sat on the MART public transport system with my new iPad, I downloaded an app of the public transport system to familiarize myself with the journey, mapped the journey from the transit stop to my hotel, sent “text” messages to my tennis partner, checked my email, thumbed through my digital photo album and listened to music, I looked up to realize that no one else on the train was using a mobile device.  Ok.  One.  There was one person using an iPhone.  For those of you in NYC, I invite you to count the number of smartphones and tablets in use in any one car of a subway, particularly in Manhattan.  I would venture to say 75-80% are “plugged in.”  Very useful, of course, because it’s completely taboo to make eye contact with anyone else on the train.

American Express continues to leverage and expand its program with foursquare – and twitter.  It’s expecially evident during these three weeks of restaurant week.  I was pleasantly surprised during a recent visit to Aquavit that AMEX would reimburse me $5 for my $24 meal if I checked in and activated the offer on foursquare.  In fact, when I check into four restaurants (on my way…), I will receive an additional bonus – $20, I believe.  Today, I checked into China Grill and was devastated to realize that I had left my linked AMEX in my office!  I had taken it out of my wallet to buy a cookie for someone in my office.  That $4 cookie just became a $9 cookie!

Similarly, I recently checked into Andy’s Deli and received a notification that I would get $5 back if I spent $10.  This is part of a “Shop Small” program to encourage small, local establishments to accept AMEX.  I immediately upgraded my $3 salad to a $10 expenditure that included extra add-ins as well as two big bottles of water.  Unfortunately, I realized the next day, when I unlocked a similar special at the nail salon, that I needed to click through one more screen to activate the deal.  I had not done so the day before.  Hence, my additional $7 in expenditures went unrewarded.  I contemplated going back to buy 4 bottles of water for $7 rather than $12 but didn’t want to mess up my pedicure on the walk home.

August 19th, 2012

I’ve just been ousted as Mayor of the Central Park Tennis Center.  Truly devastating after 212 check ins.  I’m not kidding. :-(