Tag Archives: branding

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:

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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:

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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.

Who’s Reading Though?: 10 Next Steps After Starting A Company Blog

Blogging and content marketing are hot digital buzzwords these days for good reason: “92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog.” (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)

Now that you’ve decided to go ahead with the process, you’ll need to take the necessary steps forward to ensure that you’re getting the most from your content and community.

1. Determine your purpose. The first step in creating your company blog is to determine why you have it — to educate customers, attract potential customers, share company information, sell more, etc. These are all valid reasons, and likely more than one of these describe your intentions. Those ones will dictate the kind of content you read, where you share it, etc.

2. Design navigation around your ultimate call to action: selling. Ultimately, you want your customers to buy or give you their e-mail addresses, so be sure your navigation is always supporting the purchasing process — ads for your products, links to buy, easy navigation to input credit card information, etc.

3. Brand your design. Every bit of your online presence should be branded, therefore making you noticeable. Be sure your logo is somewhere in the header, there are links back to your home page, and the coluor scheme supports your overall look.

4. Formulate a content calendar. A blog needs content, and for a business new to curating blog posts this frequently, it’s imperative you create a content calendar. Not only does this keep you focused on churning out new content, but you can use it to collaborate with sales. Coordinate blog posts with promoted products or promotions.

5. Create 10 evergreen pieces. As you start gaining readers, you’ll want to have 10 evergreen pieces. Evergreen pieces are those which will always be educational, beneficial and relevant. Create five of these before taking your blog public to ensure you have plenty of content for readers as they trickle in.

6. Repurpose other content. Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of creating all this content? Look to your whitepapers, newsletters and any other content you’ve already produced, and consider how you can repurpose it into a blog post, graphic or infographic.

7. Get social. The most important aspect of your blog is to be sure it’s sharable — while creating awesome content is an integral part of that, no one will share if you don’t give them the resources to do so. You should have sharing buttons at the top of your content, at the bottom and on the side. I find a sliding social plugin for the side works best.

8. Encourage engagement. Other than sharing, you want readers to engage with your content via comments. You have the opportunity to build up your community of readers and customers; this will give them a reason to come back and be invested in the content.

9. Invite your readers. Once you’ve got all the pieces in place, you can invite your readers to come check it out. Share via social networks where you have a strong following and good relationships.

10. Invite your customers. Finally, you want to invite your customers. The best way to do this is to share it via e-mail blasts — introduce the blog in the first one, and then be sure to include a link to various blog posts or the blog in general within each newsletter. It is recommended that you link to the blog from your home page, as well.

Blogging is a great way to provide value to your current customers and invite the casual reader to become a customer, as well. With so many blogs out there, be sure yours is focused on the call to action, has been well-branded, and is ready for your eager readers.

Not In My Job Description: Do Your Employees Need Formal Training in Social Media/Digital Marketing?

The San Francisco Chronicle will now require all staff to undergo two months of intense training in digital and social media marketing.

The innovative focus on social media and online marketing is sparking widespread conversion and consideration across the business world today.

Mashable reports that SF Chronicle’s program is designed to encourage reporters to take risks and think “digital first.” But this digital prep-work is critically important for employees across myriad fields, not just journalism. And many are taking cues from the SF Chronicle’s lead.

The publication, one of the country’s oldest media outlets, recently hired Audrey Cooper as the first female managing editor since its inception.  Cooper will be spearheading the effort to make SF Chronicle staffers the most digital marketing-savvy professionals working in any industry.

“The approach is novel for newspapers,” Cooper said. “It physically removes reporters from the traditional newsroom and gives them new digital metrics, such as engagement time, to judge whether their stories have reached our core audience. We also plan to use real-time monitoring of the clicks we get from social media and other referral sites, including LinkedIn, Pinterest and Reddit.”

The move hopes to revive the newspaper’s flailing readership, which currently has fallen beneath a circulation of 300,000.

Tweet Me Baby: The Importance of Building Your Personal Brand Through Social Media

Whether you realize it or not, you are a brand. When you are competing for a job it is not just about your education and your skills, it is also about what’s unique in the way you think, the way you work and the things that you are passionate about. People hire people, not resumes.

Like professional brand-building, your personal brand needs management. You need to actively build, manage and update your personal profiles. Make sure you frequently Google yourself (you can bet prospective employers will) and work toward presenting a professional image.

But beyond professional, you should be able to get across a sense of your passion for branding and marketing.  A great way to start is to perform a SWOT analysis on the brand of YOU. In this exercise you identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and create a plan on how to continue to build your personal assets and close any credibility gaps.

For example:  you say you are passionate about brands on your resume, but are there examples to support this?

Take action to close this gap. Some examples of how you can do this: update your Linkedin profile to include brands that you are passionate about. Start a branding blog or comment/guest blog for others. Create a professional Twitter account that tweets about new and interesting brands and/or re-tweets interesting branding articles from others. Join any branding, marketing, or entrepreneur clubs at school. Intern or volunteer for a brand you are passionate about.

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