Category Archives: Digital Marketing

Facebook and TV: can it compete with Twitter for live engagement?

One need only look at the trending topics on any given evening to know that Twitter is a popular tool for discussing television shows.

The network has become the go-to forum for reaction to TV programmes and is one of the few things that ensures people still watch live TV rather than relying on on-demand services.

However a new report suggests that Facebook may also be a popular talking shop for TV shows.

This is a topic we’ve previously discussed in articles looking at why Facebook can’t beat Twitter for social TV and a best practice post on driving live engagement.

But the new report suggests we may have been wrong to dismiss Facebook’s potential for TV chatter, with up to a quarter of the television audience posting content related to the show they are watching on Facebook.

And as we’ve come to expect from social media users, 80% of this chatter comes from a mobile device.

It’s worth pointing out that this report was published by Facebook in partnership with SecondSync, so there are clearly some vested interests to be aware of, however the analysis does seem to hold water.

A minute-by-minute breakdown of aggregated TV-related Facebook interactions shows that the majority of activity happens during the show and there are peaks of activity that map directly to key events in the telecast.

These graphs show how people reacted to an NFL playoff game and the X Factor UK final.

A separate report on Twitter usage, which was also published in partnership with SecondSync, reveals similar peaks in tweets during TV shows.

In 2012 The X Factor drove more than 14m tweets throughout the entire series, with 1.12m coming during the final show.

The eventual winner, James Arthur, was mentioned 387,000 times compared to 86,000 mentions for Jahmene Douglas.

Spikes in Twitter activity during X Factor 2012 final

Types of engagement

Looking at the types of interactions that take place on Facebook, ‘likes’ are easily the most common form of activity followed by comments. This is to be expected as ‘likes’ are the easiest and most non-committal form of interaction that it’s possible to do.

This chart shows how interactions were spread across The Sound of Music Live TV show:

How marketers can drive engagement at every phase of the purchase cycle

It’s not just the moment of purchase that matters. To successfully build customer loyalty requires fresh marketing strategies at every phase of the purchase cycle: before, during, and after.

Before deciding to spend their hard-earned money with your brand, consumers receive countless messages that detail product announcements and ways to save money. To break through this noise, a streamlined and efficient engagement strategy is critical.

At the time of purchase, on the other hand, with consumers facing options from dozens of competitors, brands must change the shopping game to aid consumers in making an educated buying decision.

Finally, after a purchase is made, your brand has a choice of either allowing the customer to walk away in anonymity or continue the conversation by creating an identified and meaningful ongoing relationship.

Whether it’s before, during, or after, there are various tactics that marketers can utilize to effectively engage with consumers along the path to purchase. Read on for our tips at every transaction stage.

Pre-purchase

When it comes to a pre-purchase marketing strategy, getting consumers’ attention is key.

While a brand may feel their message is valuable and compelling, consumers have so many brands vying for their attention that it becomes hard for a brand to stand out.

Instead of the old school approach of pushing a marketing message out to consumers, brands need to create campaigns that are more about mutual value rather than the simply telling a one sided story.

Once a brand establishes mutual value, it can then inform consumers on specific products and features that help raise brand awareness and situate the brand top-of-mind with consumers before they make purchase decisions.

Madewell’s ‘Are You Madewell?’ campaign exemplifies the kind of pre-purchase strategy that grabs consumer attention.

Instead of a one-dimensional product recommender as a way to learn about consumers and recommend products, the brand designed a personality test that asked questions such as “your dream Saturday afternoon would include…” and “what’s your biggest pet peeve?”

In creating a personalized test experience with a curated product recommender, the brand provided interesting, valuable information to consumers about themselves, Madewell products, and how they relate to the Madewell brand.

Once a consumer is aware of a brand’s products, the next phase of the purchase funnel is ‘consideration’ where consumers decide between their most likely purchases.

In Pier 1’s recent ‘Pin It and Win It’ campaign, the home decor brand encouraged consumers to design Pinterest boards featuring the products with a chance to win their design.

‘Pin It and Win It’ is really a digital and social shopping experience. The experience of having consumers visually select their favorite products that they would like to win is the same consideration process of selecting the products you’d like to buy but without requiring the purchase hurdle.

While only a handful of consumers will win, all participants have gone through the process of identifying the products that they would like to own.

By educating your consumers in an interesting and engaging way before the purchase, they will be much more inclined to consider your brand when making the decision to buy.

During the purchase

Most consumers have busy, fast paced lives, and have developed shopping habits as a means of efficiently using their time.

The challenge for brands is how to change shopping habits to steal a consumer away from their competition or to drive incremental purchases from existing consumers.

Old Navy’s ‘SnapAppy’ mobile campaign demonstrates an excellent way to get consumers to change their shopping habits.

Consumers download the Snap Appy application and can unlock fun surprises by snapping pictures of specific icons that can be found in a variety of locations in-store and at oldnavy.com.

This multi-platform solution provides an experience and an incentive to change a consumer’s heads-down habit based shopping experience both online and in-store. Getting consumers to change their shopping habits is the first step to generate incremental sales.

For brands with a physical store presence, engagement at purchase time cannot be achieved without help from store-level employees.

With its ‘Corner of Healthy and Happy Sweepstakes’, drugstore giant Walgreens provided a digital experience that enabled store employees to learn more about the brand’s new positioning.

Employees played a multi-question online and mobile trivia game about the history of Walgreen’s and finished by submitting a statement about how they helped others stay happy and healthy.

The store employee is perhaps the most important representation of a brand’s marketing position and this unique effort from Walgreens successfully educated and engaged employees, created a more fulfilling shopping experience for its consumers.

Whether online, via mobile, or in-store, changing consumer shopping habits and involving employees provides the backbone of engagement efforts during purchase.

Post-purchase

While it may seem like the work is over once the purchase is complete, driving engagement does not stop there.

To use a dating metaphor, do we simply say “goodbye” and hope they call us for another date or do we seize that moment and put a little thought and effort into creating an ongoing relationship.

Open forums for feedback are excellent channels to connect with consumers after purchase, gain insight and turn purchasers into advocates.

In Taco Bell’s ‘Tell Us What You Think’ campaign to support its new Cantina Bell brand, the brand asks consumers to reveal what they really think about menu items, and then displays the percentage of consumers that are ‘believers’ in the Cantina brand and the percentage of consumers who are ‘skeptics’.

Additionally, Taco Bell displays Tweets from both ‘believers’ and ‘skeptics’. By providing a fully transparent way to engage with the brand, Taco Bell generates compelling and authentic product validation.

If Taco Bell had elected to cleanse the feedback and only provide positive responses, the platform becomes a packaged marketing message instead of a credible forum.

Loyalty programs are valuable platforms to help your brand connect with its audience post-purchase by getting to know the consumer based on past interactions and creating ongoing, personalized communication.

In cosmetics company Bare Escentuals’ ‘Friends and Benefits’ customer loyalty program, the brand tried something new. Instead of asking consumers to accrue points or keep track of discounts, Bare Escentuals uses personalized gifts and invitations to special events to develop emotional bonds with customers and keep them coming back.

Even better, the loyalty program provides insight into consumer preferences and allows Bare Escentuals to make business decisions based on the information they receive.

Tapping into mobile is an extremely effective way to drive customer loyalty post-purchase.

For example, Toys ‘R’ Us mobile CRM strategy asks consumers to join the brand’s mobile program by texting a short code, for special offers and deals, keeping the conversation going with the consumer after the initial sale is made.

Like Bare Escentuals’ loyalty program, Toys ‘R’ Us mobile program provides extra information on consumer interest, allowing the brand to adjust its business strategy accordingly.

Taco Bell, Bare Escentuals, and Toys ‘R’ Us demonstrate how effective post-purchase engagement strategies can be. Take advantage of customer advocacy, loyalty, and mobile CRM to continue developing relationships with your consumers even after purchases are made.

Increase engagement before, during, and after purchase

Developing a pre-, during, and post-purchase strategy is essential to fostering meaningful relationships with consumers.

Going beyond traditional campaigns, especially by incorporating data, mobile, and in-store tactics, can help your brand guarantee valuable engagement with consumers and drive customer loyalty.

Real Talk: No Engaging In Social Media? Fine. But Own Your Brand, Set Expectations

There was an interesting conversation that happened on Twitter between a comedian and (what turned out to be) an impostor pretending to be a major brand (Pace Salsa).

The short of it is the impostor manning the fake Pace Salsa Twitter account went about favoriting a bunch of statuses not very complementary of Pace.

Campbell Soup Co, the owner of Pace responded (eventually) to let us know it was not real. At least, after a bunch of speculation by blogs and users about what was going on. This was the correct response. And whether you want to say they were “late” or purposefully enjoying some free PR we can’t know.

Although the whole thing was fairly benign and not damaging to their brand in my opinion, it could easily have been worse.

But this never had to happen at all for Pace (or your brand). It is understandable that Campbell Soup Co has decided Pace as a brand does not have resources to participate in every social channel (such as Twitter) at this time. We can argue that’s a silly move and of course they should nurture their fans there, but that’s their decision / mistake to make. However, this could have been a non-starter. Here’s the official Pace Twitter Account:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 10.11.32 AM

Of course, we don’t know it’s official because Pace doesn’t write this in their bio. Heck, they don’t even bother linking back to the PaceFoods.com homepage. They just respond to a bunch of people (and spam their own followers by adding a . before the response) asking people “where is your salsa made?”

It’s clear why an internet troll had such an easy time pretending to be this brand: the brand didn’t look like they were involved in social at all, so it was easy to pretend to be them. So easy, a spammer (even with an underscore in their name) could pretend to be the brand. And why not, they looked more official than the above.

Naturally I was curious about Pace’s other digital assets at this point so I went over to their website and saw (in December!) they sadly still have their summer promotion up:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 10.16.49 AM

I was sad to see this as growing up I have fond memories of enjoying Pace Salsa with Tacos and chips. At the least I want to see that the people behind the brand care about delighting their users. But even if they do care, the messages they send with their above marketing say they don’t. We tweeted to Campbell Soup Co, and they kindly responded and let me know they’ll get to work on this which is great. At least the larger company is listening and doing a good job here.

The point of today’s post is one I’m surprised still needs to be made: set expectations with your channels and look official, even if you aren’t planning on engaging right now. Of course, you should participate, but if for whatever reason you can’t at the very least set some expectation (for example: this is the official Twitter account for Pace, we’re not updating right now but visit our site for the latest) and protect your brand in that channel.

And with your own site and static content: look, I get it if you can’t update all the time. But if you’re going to do that, be evergreen so you don’t create an experience that leaves users scratching their heads.

What’s sad is Pace is definitely not alone here. And while we expected these types of mistakes in 2004, there aren’t really excuses anymore. We need to push our favorite brands to do better so they continue to exist.

Content Marketing in 2014: What You Need to Know

Brands of all shapes and sizes continue to publish a vast array of content. From blogs and infographics, to eBooks and whitepapers, there has never been so much content produced by so many companies and organizations at any one time.

It is projected that more than 90% of all B2B marketers are now actively using content marketing to generate brand awareness.

So as you continue to formulate and revise your content marketing strategies for 2014, the new infographic from Media Mosaic shared below serves as a critically important snapshot of the current state of content marketing and how this landscape itself is poised to grow and evolve throughout this new year.

infographic

Winter Olympics Buzz: Which Companies Are Cashing in via Ecommerce?

Russia is currently in the spotlight hosting the Winter Olympics, with all the associated negative press for its government.

But whatever the irregularities of Vladimir Putin, Russia has the third highest economic growth rate in the world.

Although online sales in Russia account for just 2% retail sales, this is estimated to rise to 5%, or $46bn, by 2015 according to Morgan Stanley.

And Russian internet users are in thrall to overseas brands. In 2013 the top 25 brands searched for on Yandex, the top Russian search engine with 61% share, were all overseas fashion brands.

So what are international ecommerce outlets waiting for? Shouldn’t everyone be importing into Russia?

One new hurdle to expansion into Russia is increased complexity in shipping since new import laws were implemented in December 2013.

What do you need to know about Russia, who’s already taking advantage and how can you follow suit?

I heard wnDirect’s Jonathan Matchett talk about ecommerce distribution into Russia at MetaPack’s Delivery Conference earlier this month.

Here are the key takeaways.

The market

There are certainly lots of Russians online. With 70m already online in 2013, by the end of 2014 the country is predicted to have 80m internet users. This will equate to 56% of the population.

Who is there already?

ASOS has been selling into Russia since December 2012, as has Net-A-Porter.

eBay and AliExpress (part of Alibaba) have Russian sites and Amazon ships most products to Russia. Amazon’s platform will even translate a brand’s British store automatically.

Ozon, Russia’s own marketplace, is the current market leader, reporting $492m in revenue in 2012.

Here is Ozon CEO, Maelle Gavet, on consumer trends in Russia.

Delivery

Shipping and payment are cited as the most common hurdles to market entry. Cash on delivery is a common payment method, which can result in high returns rates.

In Russia there’s the perception of unreliable end-carrier postal service but in actuality the fulfilment levels are relatively high.

However, many carriers into Russia, including DHL and FedEx, have pulled out due to changes to import laws.

The documentation needed for ecommerce imports has increased dramatically and includes proof of value and credit card ownership. Credit card documentation in particular, having to be presented at customs, has caused problems for carriers.

Search

Getting to grips with Yandex is one of the other difficulties for importing retailers.

Russia has more internet users than any other European nation and 61% of them search on Yandex. 6% of internet users have already bought online from a foreign retailer.

Social can also influence search, with around 40m Russian users using social media sites every month. Having a social strategy can be a valuable boost to getting a foothold in the ecommerce market.

Stuck In the 1900’s: Why It’s Time To Upgrade Your Business’ Digital Presence

It’s no secret that platform proliferation is rampant across the digital landscape, introducing valuable new opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs to achieve, sustain, and even accelerate dramatic growth.

But learning to market to the multi-platform majority is critical to this venture. And it’s the focus of a new report from comScore.

The venerable name is digital measurement and analytics is out with a white paper that provides companies with context for understanding the new dynamics of today’s multi-platform digital marketplace.

According to a report, in April 2013, for the first time, more thanhalf of digital consumers in the U.S. accessed the Internet using both desktop and mobile devices.

Nowhere has the impact of this reality been more apparent than in the realm of online and mobile shopping.

mCommerce in the U.S. is growing at a rate of 30 percent year-over-year and is beginning to alter the retail landscape. Nearly $10 billion in m-commerce spending is expected in Q4 2013.

As a result, says comScore, catering to mobile visitors is a must. “Among the top 100 digital properties,” the report summary reads, “nearly one out of three monthly visitors (31 percent) only accesses that brand’s content via smartphone or tablet.”

Correspondingly, total digital media consumption is exploding. In the past three years, U.S. consumers’ total time spent on digital media has nearly doubled, led by huge gains in activity on smartphones and tablets (while desktop computer usage has seen only modest gains).

More time spent with digital media presents “a variety of new opportunities for media companies to monetize their content” and for marketers to reach their target audiences more efficiently and effectively, comScore concluded.

Moving On Up!: Hot Button Marketing Jobs To Consider For 2014

The objective of this series is to share insights, experiences and ideas for passionate marketers who want to grasp what it takes to be in charge of marketing, especially in these amazingly progressive times where marketing has attained a more strategic role.

The series could be seen to be oriented towards B2B, but many marketers see the lines with B2C blurring. So grab a coffee, put your feet up and read on.

Digital and the big picture

Let’s first stand back and explore how the emergence of digital channels, technologies and practices have changed the business world in general. After all sometimes it is difficult to see through the smoke when in the midst of a revolution.

Thanks to the evolution and adoption of online communications, businesses are fundamentally changing the ways in which they operate. The number of mechanisms for connecting, collaborating, sharing and executing business has become richer and more powerful.

Immediate access to information, conversation and opinion has created new opportunity for organizations to create value.  If organizations can embrace digitally oriented business models, they stand to gain far more than they lose.

Online communications, especially in the form of social networks, are creating a means of interaction within and between businesses that can vastly improve productivity, performance and organizational effectiveness. The biggest risk is not modernizing your business, particularly your increasingly strategic marketing function, as more agile and sharper organizations are leapfrogging competitors in the land grab for digitally savvy customers.

For businesses, digital adds both complexity and opportunity. Thanks to search engines, businesses can actually be found rather than continually having to go out into the market and hunt for customers.

Of course it takes planning, experience and expenditure to maximize the quantity and quality of visitors who reach your business via search, but it is now one of the fundamentals of today’s business to be able to be found online, 24 x 7.

Search engines also contribute to the planet’s global knowledge-base, providing pinpoint access not only to your information, but your competitor’s too.  So being able to consistently position and differentiate your business when a prospect is researching your industry segment adds an ongoing challenge to marketers.

Additionally, social media and professional networks allow people to break down barriers to knowledge, which means that it is no longer possible to have a gap between what you say and what you do.

Businesses must avoid damaging reviews and negative online sentiment at all costs. It has never been more important than to monitor and manage the reputation of your business online, as this genuinely influences whether prospects and existing customers will conduct business with you.

Over time, as decision makers become used to searching for goods and services online in their personal lives, so they are naturally inclined to bring the power and convenience of online research into their business lives.

Decision makers are open to influence from multiple online and offline information sources. Word of mouth is also important on the internet, not only for online retailing but for all types of business where conversations are occurring.

In many businesses, prospects are not connecting with sales personnel until much later in the decision cycle. Sales has lost the control of acquisition and retention that it once had.

Marketing has assumed more responsibility of the revenue cycle

The internet is gradually enabling the establishment and enhancement of relationships via more convenient research, networking and online collaboration, which in turn is gradually displacing face to face interaction.

Social media, content marketing and online search are turning traditional customer acquisition and retention practices on their heads. As Internet marketing accelerates and old techniques begin to falter, firms that ignore these trends will certainly be vulnerable.

As a CMO, it is imperative to fully understand and continually manage all the market dynamics and business variables in play here, of which there are many.

For campaign marketers, the absolute execution baseline is being able to accurately monitor target markets, understand customer preferences, present a water tight value proposition, attract/engage in meaningful and relevant ways, provide purposeful content along the lifecycle and interact on customers’ terms.

I believe Peter Drucker once said that the only two functions of any organization are innovation and marketing, and that was before the internet!

Marketing’s increasingly strategic role

What we can reasonably conclude is that marketing is central to the remarkable recent change in business models and practices. Given marketing’s understanding of the customer, the modern buying cycle, competition, and market dynamics, it is now most important that the board has a representative from marketing.

Due to the empowering nature of digital business, the customer is way more in control of the initiation and ongoing desire for any business relationship. Organizations must become truly customer oriented and operate every aspect of their company with the customer in mind.

The CMO needs to play a crucial role in constantly updating the boardroom and the CEO about the latest customer preferences and market trends, and how well corporate resources are aligned to meet those evolving customer needs.

Marketing can become the glue that bonds any customer oriented business together, by internally nurturing a culture of information transparency and sharing of customer insights.

Employees will feel more connected to the business, and a more natural collaboration between sales, marketing, customer support and other functions will occur as overall customer intelligence increases.

Some execs will be skeptical about this next comment, but over time when it comes to identifying the sales forecast for next quarter the CEO will approach the head of marketing, not necessarily sales.

This will be because marketing is assuming greater control over more of the marketing and sales funnel, to the point where the ratios of targets-to-prospects-to-leads-to-sales become so scientifically predictable that forecasts and future growth will ultimately depend upon the number of prospects (new or repeat) delivered to the top of the funnel.

Do you have the desire and ability to run marketing?

Make no mistake, to be a successful CMO or head of marketing is a tremendous challenge. A past history of juggling should help with the mindset needed as there are way more variables to understand and manage than in previous eras.

The hybrid skill-set needed for today's CMO