Eloquii Preview & Waitlist | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on August 31, 2016

Click here for all posts in the Brand Experience Project.

I get lots of emails from retailers that I frequent, as I think we all do in our current time. The marketer and strategist in me cannot help but to analyze the contents of these emails and the websites they link me to. In this instance, it was a pleasant surprise.

Eloquii has a new line of fall shoes coming soon to their site, and instead of waiting until they are ready, they have a waitlist opportunity.

Fall shoes are coming, so I’m clicking through to take a look.

It does seem a bit repetitive here to see all of the images with the same waitlist message, but I’m guessing that this is so these shoes can also be included in regular site results for shoes, while still relaying the “coming soon.”

I would prefer that this button not say “add to waitlist.” Since these haven’t been available yet, it isn’t so much a waitlist, but a “Email Me When This is Available!” opportunity. It’s fine, but the messaging could be slightly improved. It’s also mildly annoying that the “Coming Soon! Get on the list” message is still on the image, because my initial instinct was to click the image again to sign up, which is not the case.

This pop-up is fine for me, and I especially appreciate the confirmation that I will only receive emails regarding the item I am interested in, that I’m not being added to their general mailing list.

Again with waitlist being a bit of a misnomer in this instance. This is nitpicky, but something I would look into editing if possible. I’m guessing that the waitlist functionality is primarily for items that are temporarily out of stock, not for “coming soon” items, which may mean that editing it in one place could affect all instances of this feature. If this is a successful venture, it would potentially be worthwhile to look into developing a specific function for “coming soon.”

For the most part, I’m totally into this idea. Eloquii does a majority of their sales online, and prompting their audience to indicate in advance what they would like would assist in product ordering and sales projections. I do think some edits or rethinking could be done, but that is the case with almost everything.

I am often reminding people that e-commerce websites are never actually “done,” that they are always a work in progress. Businesses that are growing, developing new types of product, increasing the size of their customer base, always need to revisit the functionality of their sites and determine what changes will improve the experience and ultimately lead to happier customers and more sales. Eloquii‘s team clearly shares this view, and I look forward to seeing their future growth and updates.

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Tyme Iron Review | Product Pick #14

by Jamie Sanford on August 24, 2016

Check out all of my Product Picks here. If you want to see all of the products I’ve reviewed (not just the ones I like), click here for Reviews.

I can’t believe I haven’t written this one earlier, because I have been raving about the Tyme Iron to anyone who would listen for the past few months.

I have owned at least 10 curling irons since my teenage years, and it’s always been something I never got the hang of. I have thick hair, and to get it to hold a curl required a lot of product and a lot of commitment. I needed to curl tiny sections at a time an then spray them a lot to get them to last. I had also tried the “curling with a flat iron” method, but that didn’t work for me at all. It was just another situation of needing to take at least an hour to curl my whole head, and for that great effort, I would generally have curls that would be mostly gone by the end of the night. I’m not desperate enough for a perm—the spiral perm in 7th grade was enough to turn me off of that idea for life.

I started seeing sponsored posts for this hair tool on Facebook at least a year ago, and quickly clicked through to check it out.

It’s a bit strange for a hair iron, particularly when you are used to seeing more traditional flat or curling irons.

Here’s a look at it laying down. Still weird.

Anyway, it took me seeing the ads again and again, and watching videos multiple times, before I took the plunge. The price of this device is $190. I paid over $100 for my last CHI flat iron, so I was obviously not averse to buying expensive tools. This just seemed like a lot of money for a mysterious tool. However, there was a return policy, so I decided that if I received it and would be able to do my own hair for an upcoming wedding, instead of paying someone else, that I would be able to justify the price. If I couldn’t figure it out, I would just send it back.

I clicked the purchase button and patiently waited.

Soon enough, my Tyme Iron arrived! I sat at home that night, and watched instructional videos while trying it out. Having used traditional flat and curling irons for years, this is a totally different process.

This video is good, but I was doing something wrong, because my piece of hair was coming out a frizzy mess.

I looked around for another video.

This is a funny video of the Tyme founder having a Skype call with someone who was having trouble figuring it out. I found this one to be the most educational, and I immediately started getting amazing curls in my hair. Better yet, they lasted until I washed my hair again, without requiring any hair spray. (The only thing I have been using is a heat spray before I get started.)

While I was most excited for the curls, the Tyme Iron is also the best flat iron I have ever used. I still have the CHI, but it is stored away. I don’t know if I will ever go back to it again, because the Tyme Iron straightens my hair on the first pass, and it looks much healthier than when I was using the CHI.

Proof!

This particular day, I used the iron quickly to turn the ends of my hair up after straightening it. Not “curls” exactly, but a quick and easy way to add a bit of messy texture.

Straightened, but you can see a little bit of curve in my bangs there.

It’s a bit dark, but you can see it from the side. I largely curled here from the middle of my hair to the bottom. Next to me is my lovely sister Robyn, who I totally sold on the Tyme Iron during this weekend.

This was the event I mentioned earlier, the wedding of my brother-in-law. I did my own hair for the wedding, and this was how great my hair still looked, even after riding a ferry over Lake Ontario to get to an island! Full disclosure though, I did spray these for insurance. I can promise that my previous efforts at curling, even with spray, would not have survived a windy ferry ride. These held up perfectly all night.

The Tyme Iron does have a learning curve, and I have tried to be honest and forthcoming about that with everyone I have told about it. Once I got the technique down though, I had it, and I have only been getting better at curling ever since. I can now do a quick curl in less than 10 minutes. This is largely due to the fact that I can curl much bigger pieces than I ever was able to in the past.

Click here and buy the Tyme Iron right now.

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Horseshoe Curve | In My Travels

by Jamie Sanford on August 22, 2016

To see all of my travel posts, click here.

All images taken with the Sony NEX-6.

I worked my way around the map once we had decided to go to Penn’s Cave. My first inclination was to spend the night in Harrisburg, but once I realized that adding a bit of driving to the trip would let us visit Horseshoe Curve and then stay in Altoona for the evening, it was the obvious plan. We had been to Horseshoe Curve once before, in 2009 when we took a visit to the Laurel Highlands region of Pennsylvania. I felt that we hadn’t spent enough time there, and I really wanted to go back, so we did!

We rode the funicular to the top of Horseshoe Curve. We took the steps on the way back down.

A panorama from the top. You can see the train tracks on either side of the image, because this photo is taken from the center of the Horseshoe.

Horseshoe Curve was built as a way to stretch out an incline on the railroad in a time when the engines weren’t strong enough to manage a steeper incline with lots of weight. This line of track is used a LOT, and so both times when we have visited, there are trains coming by every few minutes.

Train!

The parklike area at the top of the funicular is so lovely – there are benches, picnic tables, and lots of grass.

In this image, you can really see how this stretch of track is managing the incline.

Obviously. That’s my new road trip hat.

This informational sign is helpful.

On our way back down the stairs.

If you or someone you know likes trains, I can’t tell you enough to spend some time at Horseshoe Curve. I didn’t go into detail about it here, but there is an entire museum to look around, a film to watch about the conception and construction of the curve, and a very cute gift shop. I have found that while it seems like it might be boring to watch trains go by, it is the experience of being surrounded by them as they pass that is really fun and exciting. We saw multiple freight trains and an Amtrak passenger train, which looked tiny in comparison. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful visit.

Happy trails!

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NBCOlympics.com | Brand Experience Project

by Jamie Sanford on August 14, 2016

Click here for all posts in the Brand Experience Project.

I am a massive fan of the Olympic games. I get so excited to watch all sorts of sports – everything from shot put to archery and my favorite, gymnastics. Unfortunately, the television coverage in the United States for the Rio games has been plagued with issues. There’s the well-covered sexism, which is frustrating, but I am not covering that here (at least not in detail). My major issue is currently with NBCOlympics.com.

NBC has exclusive broadcast rights in the United States for the Olympic games, so unless you can find a sketchy way to watch another country’s coverage online, you are stuck with NBC. What seems to be an improvement over previous coverage is that there are replays available on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app, and also live events available to be streamed. This is great, right?

You also have to turn to either the website or app to view full events. NBC’s primetime coverage on television is weirdly skewed towards swimming and track, and while I don’t want to slight those athletes, there are other things going on, other things that are awarding medals, and semifinals in swimming shouldn’t be shown when other athletes are in finals for medals.

Anyway, last Thursday was the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Final. I have been watching a LOT of women’s gymnastics on YouTube in the last few months, and I am a huge fan of the sport. I wanted to see the full coverage of the final, not just what NBC would show me in primetime, which turned out to be terrible coverage of mostly just American athletes, and again, showed swimming semifinals and made gymnastics fans wait until after 11pm on a weeknight to see the results.

So in an effort to watch the entire final when I got home from the office on Thursday, I opened the website to see if I could start watching the final, since I knew it was already over. This is what I saw.

Seriously, NBC? You couldn’t have avoided a spoiler here? This pissed me off so much, but I guess I should be surprised, given what was said by the NBC Olympics chief marketing officer:

The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sports writers. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.

This is nonsense. Who are they polling or whatever to get this information? Why can’t I possibly watch a sporting event without it being turned into a reality show? The simplification of what “all women watching television in the United States” wants is asinine.

It is now 4 days later, and NBC is still committed to making sure that I know who won before I watch something.

If I was only interested in the performance of Simone Biles, I wouldn’t even need to watch this now, because they have told me who wins. When did someone decide that spoiler alerts were no longer relevant or necessary? I am still perfectly capable of avoiding social media in order to not be spoiled on things like this. The instances where I make this effort are few and far between, but it is possible.

Suggestions for alternative headlines:

  • Big day for Biles: Did she win? Watch now!
  • Watch now: Simone Biles’ historic run for gold!
  • Women’s All-Around Final: Watch Now

Each of these pages or stories could have giant spoiler alerts on them before revealing the medalists. It isn’t difficult in the least, but I guess I’m not interested in who wins, right?

The bottom line is that while this is ridiculous, I will likely continue going to NBCOlympics.com to watch Olympic events, because I simply have no other choice. I sincerely hope that they revisit their approach to coverage on television and online for the next event.

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Click here for all posts in the Brand Experience Project.

A bit of a random post today, but something that made me so happy for a few reasons.

A few weeks ago, we went to Florida for a long weekend. It has actually been a while since we had flown out of Terminal C at Newark Liberty, so we were surprised to see all of the renovations and how you can eat something at almost every area of the terminal. There are raw bars right next to the gates! Anyway, the best addition was something I was not aware of and did not expect to find, but I’m so glad that an evolution with airline miles is happening.

We went to Vesper in Terminal C because it was close to our gate, and we didn’t want oysters. We saw a pretty basic menu, a bit overpriced, but we have come to expect that in the airport. We sat down, and like many other swanky upgraded terminals, there were iPads on the table for us to order food, play games, read the news, etc.

Please note that these are pictures of the screen from my iPhone 6.

Home screen – I am immediately captured by the feature banner telling me how much a glass of wine costs, in miles. What is this new development?

I moved on to look at burgers, and there you have it. You can pay with money, or you can pay with miles. I was so excited for this, and I will tell you why.

I have been a loyal customer of United Airlines since it was Continental Airlines. It certainly helps that I live in New Jersey and that Newark Liberty is a United hub, so there are lots of flights for me, but no matter. This is the airline I have used for ages. Will and I have amassed nearly 90,000 miles in our frequent flyer miles accounts, and it is intensely frustrating how I can never find reward travel that works for us. I don’t need to receive 5 magazine subscriptions, which for years seems like the only offer I was receiving in the mail for “how to spend your miles.” If you don’t use them or fly again within a certain time period, you lose them. Without better options to spend them or use them, I’m sure there are a lot of miles that are lost.

Mild frustration here, if you are adding to your order, it doesn’t tell you the mileage cost on the item detail page.


A look at the checkout process. Again, I find it unfortunate that they cannot preview the prices of the add-ons, but I loved that I could add gratuity and pay for the entire meal with my miles.

I clicked “pay with award miles,” and it was done. 6,100 miles paid for a lunch that would have cost something like $40 – $50. I am not against paying for lunch, but the thrill of a way to use miles that didn’t feel like a total waste and something I didn’t actually NEED (hello, magazines) was really satisfying.

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