Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, October 29, 2012

SoLoMo Marketers and Multichannel Mix

The Challenge: SoLoMo(Social, Local, Mobile) marketing presents marketers with a chance to reach consumers when they want, where they want, and in the format they prefer. But with so many different elements, can marketers coordinate them properly?

SoLoMoSoLoMo marketing represents a powerful opportunity in the field of social commerce, allowing marketers to better serve today's multi-channel, multi-experience consumer. But with so many moving parts, getting all three areas to coordinate seamlessly can be difficult, especially as mobile marketing technology continues to evolve.

Russ Whitman, chief strategy officer at Ratio Interactive, says "many brands have challenges across all [channels] individually and definitely as an integrated approach...The biggest challenge...is that it's difficult to determine best practices and how to measure results."

When combined, social, local, and mobile channels are incredibly effective at driving customer engagement. But in order to fully take advantage of ever-changing technology, marketers will have to dedicate themselves equally across all channels and ensure a solid multi-channel approach. Wilson Kerr, VP of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce says “retailers and brands should start by asking themselves what their landing zone looks like for the mobile consumers they engage via SoLoMo…there are any number of exciting ways to target by location, engage via social and use mobile to deliver messaging at the exact time and place when consumers are most likely to act.”

L'Oreal is one of the companies that has had some success in gaining local ground with consumers, but like many other SoLoMo users, doesn’t believe that it has perfected its multichannel marketing mix. Beauty products tend to be a very personal purchase, and are often selected based on recommendations from friends or stylists.

With this in mind, L'Oreal created a social and local platform that, according to L'Oreal VP Rachel Weiss, “allows [individual] salons to be marketers with the help and overview of L'Oreal...we want to do real-time marketing so when someone’s...making a purchase decision we can provide an offer to tell them where [a salon] is.”

Unfortunately, L'Oreal suffers from one of the greatest challenges for marketers trying to run integrated SoLoMo campaigns: determining how to transition from strong offerings in one or two channels to seamless integration of all three.

Key Takeaways

1. Accommodate customers' existing shopping behavior.
The key to any good multichannel campaign is convenience, which means integrating your message into your customers' lives at the place, time, and manner that they prefer.

2. Simplify your messaging.
Again, simple, no-nonsense messaging makes it easier for consumers to make choices, which allows them to more easily traverse the purchase path without being overwhelmed by information.

3. Spread your efforts equally across all channels.
The strength of a SoLoMo approach depends on giving equal credence to each channel, and using the synergy of the three channels to deliver a highly concentrated level of engagement and convenience.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Starbucks: Using Online to Enhance Bricks and Mortar

The Challenge: As e-commerce grows in popularity, brick-and-mortar retailers are finding themselves losing more and more sales to online outlets like Amazon.com. But how are some of the most successful brick-and-mortar retailers holding their own against online retail?

Burberry OnlineAccording to STORES’ list of the largest U.S.-based retailers, Amazon.com has outperformed most brick-and-mortar retailers to rank 15th in the nation, establishing itself as America’s fastest-growing retailer. Like many successful online retailers, the website achieved success via competitive prices, fast shipping, and personalized offers that leverage a considerable customer database. So how are brick-and-mortar retailers fighting back? By using technology to upgrade customer service and create the same convenience in-store.

Mobile point of service

Retailers are equipping sales forces with smartphones and apps that allow them to reprice items, check inventory for customers, and conduct sales transactions on the spot. This spells a potential increase in employee efficiency and customer convenience at every point of contact. Lowe’s, in particular, has taken this method to heart, distributing iPhones to all 42,000 of its employees,

Precision Retailing

Precision Retailing is a customer service solution created by SAP that anticipates customers’ wants and gives them personalized discounts and offers at the appropriate time. This is accomplished by gathering multi-channel customer data and applying a system of predictive analytics. The technology allows stores to personalize shopping for customers in-store by sending mobile coupons and suggestions to their smartphones as they shop, and rewards customer loyalty by offering discounts based on their most frequent purchases.

Mobile Payments

Starbucks is a mobile payment pioneer, with over 70 million mobile payments made through their app since January 2011. But in addition to the existing Starbucks-exclusive payment app, Starbucks is expanding to support the multi-business Square Wallet app. The Wallet will allow customers to use the Square directory to find Starbucks locations, and will eventually add the ability to tip via smartphone, which will allow Starbucks and other businesses to measure customer satisfaction in real-time.

Key Takeaways

1. Customer service is key
Customers buy from online outlets because it’s often more convenient than dealing with their offline equivalents. Information is easier to come by, product comparison is simpler, and transactions are easier to conduct. The businesses above have shown that if you can streamline those processes offline, you can be competitive with online outlets.

2. Upgrade your sales process.
Regardless of how good an employee is, they can’t be everywhere at once. Arm them with the technology they’ll need to do their jobs to the best of their ability. The more efficiently they can accomplish their tasks, the better they can help your customers at each touchpoint on the purchase path.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Burberry: 3 Powerful Ways To Engage Consumers Online

The Challenge: According to a study conducted by Martini Media, luxury brands have been gradually dropping TV from their multichannel marketing mix in favor of digital media. But will the move pay off in the end? Digital darling Burberry seems to think so, quickly taking the throne of luxury online marketing by creating entirely new levels of customer engagement.
Burberry OnlineWhile luxury marketers have traditionally trailed mass marketers in digital marketing spend, digital media has skyrocketed among luxury agencies over the past year. Context and targeting are quickly becoming the most important criteria for luxury brands, and luxury marketers are finding a need to achieve reach through the use of niche, passion-based sites.
Digital media is perceived to be more effective than offline marketing in driving favorability, as well as online and brick-and-mortar traffic. It appeals to affluent audiences on the go, who often have more money than time. And because luxury brands must deal with an extremely niche audience that is more privacy-sensitive and difficult to reach, these customers expect an engagement experience that mass marketers aren’t capable of delivering.
With its highly successful push into digital media earlier this year, Burberry has become luxury online marketing's champion. Creative officer Christopher Bailey claims it’s become “as much a media-content company as a design company.” As proof, the company has launched its recent AW(Autumn/Winter) 2012 collection across 10 different social platforms, tailoring the presentations to best leverage the advantages of each site.
Key Takeaways from Burberry
1. Use co-creation to drive brand awareness and engagement through
user-generated content.

Taking a cue from Threadless, Burberry’s Art of the Trench photo-sharing site allows consumers and fashion photographers to document how they wear the brand’s iconic trenchcoat. This unique use of user-generated content and customer engagement has generated a massive amount of brand awareness for the company.
2. Make your consumers feel exclusive by showing them exclusive content.
In its recent “Tweetwalk” event, Burberry partnered with Twitter to post backstage pictures of every look before models were sent out onto the runway, which meant that Burberry followers were seeing looks before most members of the fashion show audience.
3. Design your content to help guide your customers down the purchase path.
In a fresh twist on direct sales, Burberry live-streamed its London Fashion Week catwalk to 25 main stores as a “living catalog,” allowing existing customers to place immediate orders on upcoming collections before the looks became available to the public. Burberry also made it possible for consumers to directly purchase items by clicking through any of the image or video galleries on their social media posts.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Election: What Marketers Should Learn About The Multichannel Mix

The Challenge: During this tight Presidential campaign, both parties are deploying an unusually diverse and integrated multichannel marketing mix. What lessons should you be learning from these strategies?
Election 2012Traditionally, TV, print, and radio have been the mainstays of presidential campaigns. However, they are not enough to engage today’s multichannel consumer. Increased use of social and mobile media is essential to engage potential voters. This has significantly complicated the media mix challenges for campaigns.
A recent study conducted by Borrell Associates reflects this, showing that while candidates still primarily utilize traditional media, campaign ads dropped from 61.9% to 57.3% for TV since the last election. However, other channels received increased funding across the board, demonstrating a shift towards more diverse multichannel marketing. This is particularly apparent in online media, which received 6 times more funding than it did in 2008.
Mobile: The Newest Addition to the Mix
Both camps understand the importance of social media in engaging today’s constituents, with staff manning Twitter and Facebook accounts for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. These efforts are complemented by email to drive voter behavior and raise funds for ongoing campaigns. All indicators point to stronger focus on digital media and increased diversity in political marketing in the future.
Mobile Payments – Obama campaigners created a new program called “Quick Donate”, which makes donation easier by allowing supporters to contribute via text message.
Social sharing
The “With Mitt” app engages Romney supporters by helping them apply templates to photos of themselves at assemblies. The pictures can then be uploaded to Twitter or Facebook via the app.
Key Takeaways for Marketers
1. Think holistically about your multichannel marketing mix.
Whether you’re a presidential candidate or a corporation, you need the power of all elements of the media mix to engage today’s multichannel consumers. According to Glen Senk, CEO of Urban Outfitters, consumers who engage with the company across three or more channels spend 6x more than single channel buyers.
2. Engage your customers per their media of choice.
Campaign staff uses Facebook and Twitter to provide followers exclusive content and hear what they have to say about the candidates. This creates a degree of engagement and rapport with consumers that traditional media can’t match. How can you motivate your customers and prospects to opt-in and engage with you across multiple media?
3. Be self-aware.
An increased number of marketing channels leads to an increased amount of exposure. It allows you to be transparent and candid with your customers, but it also means that you should take greater care to maintain decorum and monitor the content you distribute.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Simplification in Marketing: Apple's Not-So-Secret Weapon

The Challenge: We all know that Apple has been holding court over the mobile market for the past several years with various incarnations of the iPhone. But how is a company with only a handful of mobile products capable of outselling the hundreds of models their competitors are cranking out? The answer might be simplicity itself.
Apple's SecretIn a recent CEB study, marketing simplicity was quantified using a “decision simplification index,” which gauged “how easily consumers can understand (navigate) information about a brand, how well they can trust that information, and how readily they can weigh their options." It was indicated that a 20% increase in decision simplification resulted in a 96% customer loyalty increase, and made brands 86% more likely to be purchased and 115% more likely to be recommended.
In a world where consumers are being bombarded with thousands of marketing messages, it's easy to fall victim to information overload. That overflow often leads customers to overthink purchase choices, making dozens of micro-comparisons between virtually identical products.
Instead of confusing customers with similar factory specs, marketers should be simplifying the decision-making process and giving the consumer less choices to agonize over.
For a real-world example, let’s look at Samsung, which features over 100 concurrent smartphones on its website, each with an encyclopedic list of factory specs. For most consumers, the amount of near-identical models and technical jargon only makes the purchase path more difficult to navigate.
Apple, on the other hand, only has one phone on their site. They tell you everything you need to know about it in plain, understandable language, not millimeters, megapixels, or megabytes. In short, they create a simple, easy-to-follow purchase path for their single product. And that one product has outsold all of Samsung’s 100 phones combined in the past year.
Not surprisingly, Apple also has one of the highest decision simplification indices in the CEB study.
Best Practices for Simplifying Your Marketing
1. Help Consumers Navigate The Purchase Path.
Creating a clear and efficient purchase path requires marketers to minimize the number of information touchpoints consumers must traverse as they move towards purchasing.
2. Generate Trustworthy Information About Your Product.
In the context of decision simplification, trusting product information is more important than trusting the brand. Unbiased reviews given by trusted advisers (review bloggers, consumers’ friends and family, etc.) are generally your best marketing asset.
3. Make It Easy For Customers To Weigh Their Options.
Cut down the number of available product choices. If that’s impossible, create transparent buying guides with side-by-side product comparisons to help customers feel confident about their purchases. Or, even better, create step-by-step online decision guides that auto-generate the best choice for their needs.