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The Radical Idea: Why investing in the physical world should be part of your social media marketing budget

August 18th, 2016

What do you include in your social media marketing budget? Most marketers focus on elements like software and tools, paid advertising, social media management, and content creation.

But let me introduce a radical idea – the physical customer experience is a worthwhile investment as part of your social media marketing budget.

Sounds crazy, right? That’s in someone else’s department. It’s someone else’s focus.

But I bet you would have thought I was crazy if I told you just a few months ago that two men would fall off a cliff chasing a pretend monster on their mobile phones (fortunately, both were rescued by firefighters and only suffered moderate injuries).

One thing the Pokémon GO phenomenon should teach all marketers is that – thanks to the evolving way customers interact using mobile devices – the digital world is not a vacuum.

Nowhere is that more true than in social media. Because companies do not own the conversation about their brands on social media. They can participate and engage and boost and shape and share the conversations about their brands. But they cannot control them.

So an important element of positive word-of-mouth about your brand is how customers interact with your brand in the physical, real-world environment. To put it in terms of an overused cliché – think outside of the digital box.

Here are three ideas to help you create unique ways to leverage the physical world for social media impact.

Idea #1: Invest in the product

This may be the most radical idea. Product cost is not usually considered part of the social media marketing budget. The usual (way overly simplified) thinking is: price – cost of goods sold = margin.

But what if you didn’t attribute all of the cost to produce the product as a manufacturing or R&D expense? What if you looked past simple production costs to consider what extra, special, unique touches you could add to a product (or service) experience that sparks enough extra joy in your customers that they’ll want to tell everyone about it on social media?

Wouldn’t this be a worthwhile investment? Specifically, a social media marketing investment? In fact, it might be worth more than, say, a paid Facebook ad.

To spark some ideas, watch this story from the MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 Media Center showing how an exceptional product experience naturally flowed into social media exposure and value.

 

“They actually were going to Instagram and posting very natural photos of what their experience was like when they received that box. They’d put their children in and want to take pictures of their babies in this box brimming with broccoli and kale,” said Cambria Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Door to Door Organics. “And all of a sudden, we realized that they were taking and sharing that joyful feeling. It was all over social media, and it was ours to embrace.”

Some products have a more expected passion behind them than others. And in this case, Door to Door Organics is an online grocer that delivers natural and organic groceries, a product that typically has a passionate following and lends itself unsurprisingly to social sharing.

However, any product experience has the potential for social sharing. All experiences are relative. When you create a better product experience than expected, you increase the odds of a positive customer experience on social (on the flip side, the same effect works in reverse when you don’t meet customer expectations).

If you’re serious about social, don’t leave that just up to product managers. Put some (budgetary) skin in the game to deliver positive surprises for customers.

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Gotta Catch ‘Em All: How to get new customers from the Pokémon GO phenomenon

July 15th, 2016

Marketers can learn a lot from Pokémon GO, and it call comes down to one mantra: Gotta catch ‘em all.

Except in our case, we’re talking about our customers. While not everyone can create a social phenomenon out of their product, you can definitely capitalize on one to pique your customer’s interests and stay top of mind.

Pokémon GO, which is an augmented-reality smartphone game that has players exploring the real world to find virtual Pokémon, is currently rivaling Twitter when it comes to daily active users. This means you can’t afford to just ignore it. Especially if you plan on reaching out to millennials.

Let’s review how some businesses have capitalized on the Pokémon GO phenomenon of the past week.

 

It doesn’t have to be external

MECLABS Institute, the parent company of MarketingSherpa, is sponsoring its own Pokémon GO contest, with the employee who captures the most interesting picture of a Pokémon winning dinner for two.

PokemonGo MECLABS

Many companies have noticed their employees wandering around the company campus, phone in hand, chasing elusive Pokémon. And they’ve capitalized on the fun by working with something their employees were already doing.

Instead of employees trying to sneak around hiding their obsession, why not turn it into a company activity?

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Customer-centric Marketing: 5 more takeaways on consumer behavior from researchers and strategists [Part II]

June 17th, 2016

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 will be here before you know it, and our team is hard at work planning the agenda, with a special emphasis on customer-centric strategies and approaches.

As we select our keynotes, the team has conducted in-depth research and gained some interesting takeaways from both academic and marketing practitioners.  We highlighted the first five takeaways earlier this week, and we have five more thought-proving insights again for you today.

 

Takeaway #6. Build habit forming products

Many of the products we use in our daily routine have influenced our routines.

Nir Eyal, author of best-selling book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has identified a design pattern in habit forming products. He describes this design pattern, “the hook,” as “an experience designed to connect the users’ problems to your solution with enough frequency to form a habit.”

The hook is comprised of cycle of triggers, actions, rewards and investments. The triggers can be internal or external, but must evoke motivation to act.

For instance, customers need to anticipate the reward for their action or they will not engage. The more involved a customer becomes with a product, the more likely he or she will develop a loyalty to the product.

Nir explains, “Products that create successive cycles through the hook help customers’ preferences, tastes, and habits develop.”

This engagement is what makes these products better, it’s not necessarily the quality of the products.

 

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Customer-centric Marketing: 5 takeaways on consumer behavior from researchers and strategists [Part I]

June 14th, 2016

At MarketingSherpa, we’re in the planning phase for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017. With the interest of our customers’ experience at the core of our every decision, we conduct extensive research to select the most thought-provoking and applicable keynote sessions for our attendees.

During our research phase, we have identified 10 key takeaways from leading experts (both academics and practitioners) in marketing. That’s a lot of key takeaways, so we’re breaking it up into two digestible bites. Read on today for insights around customer centricity, empathetic marketing and “less is more.”

 

Takeaway #1. Customer centricity does not mean doing exactly what the customers want

Dr. Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing at University of Pennsylvania and Co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Institute, explains that while performing at the level of meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations is a component of customer centricity, it should not be a blanketed approach for all customers.

According to Fader, truly customer-centric organizations do not treat all customers the same because they do not provide equal value to the company. Most of us are aware that we should identify different segments of customers. Fader establishes that while segmentation itself is not a new idea, how it is conducted has evolved from simple demographics to customer lifetime value. He suggests companies organize themselves around different customer segments rather than different products. Then, organizations can deliver products appropriate to their segments of customers.

In summation, to truly become customer centric, companies need to identify and invest in the right customers.

  Read more…

Direct Marketing vs. Wholesale Marketing: How Steve Madden organizes and optimizes its $1.4 billion shoe empire

June 9th, 2016

When your business is 80% wholesale like Steve Madden, how do you carve out a unique value proposition for your direct ecommerce business?

 

Watch the full interview to find out

“The value proposition of our site is that we have the deepest selection [and] we have it before anyone else.”

So said Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce for Steve Madden, yesterday during a live interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

Additionally, Mark mentions the company’s community of rabid Steve Madden fans in social channels and through the SM Mag.

“It’s crazy how people feel about the brand. We incorporate that into the site, and that gives others some perspective of how some people are wearing it. You’re getting to see not only the product that they bought, but their complete look and how they put it together,” Mark said.

Of course, because the business is 80% wholesale, Steve Madden can’t just leave partners out in the cold. To balance its relationship with partners, Mark mentions the team employs a variety of tactics, including:

  • Syndicate product photography done in-house
  • Syndicate product reviews that were written on SteveMadden.com

  Read more…

How Integrating Customer Service and Marketing Can Build Successful Consumer Marketing

June 7th, 2016

This week, the MarketingSherpa team is running the official Media Center at the world’s largest ecommerce event – IRCE 2016. We’re interviewing speakers, industry experts and brand-side marketers to bring back ecommerce lessons for you. To get notification when this year’s interviews will be available visit our IRCE 2016 Media Page. Until the videos are up, here’s an interview from last year’s event. 

When you go to a restaurant and your customer experience before the meal arrives is terrible, you’ll most likely refer to that restaurant as being terrible, even if the meal was amazing. Customer service has the power of leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

Customer service and marketing now work together more than ever. At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, interviewed Katie Laird, Director of Social Marketing, Blinds.com, on how her team was making amazing strides with their customer experience.

Here are a few components to transforming customer service feedback internally to build success in your company.

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Brand Marketing: 5 tactics to understanding customer experience

February 16th, 2016

Marketing is constantly evolving, because your customers are. It continually begs the question: what is currently working to grow brands?

I interviewed three brand owners from Expedia.com, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Ancestry who are leaders in digital marketing to understand what’s working and what’s not for brand growth currently.

First of all, what is a brand owner? Those who build, grow and sustain brands that reflect their company’s principles, values and value proposition, to ultimately influence consumers to believe in and purchase their product/service.

And these brand owners are definitely feeling the squeeze.

“We all live in a world of limited budgets and need to make those dollars extend as far as possible,” Vic Walia, Senior Director of Brand Marketing, Expedia.com, said.

According to Kathi Skow, VP Brand Marketing, Ancestry, “With the measurement tools now available, we can see near real-time results on marketing efforts. But brand marketing’s influence is measured through a more qualitative and longer-term lens, so we’re having find new ways to prove its impact on the business.”

“The biggest challenge is how we are leveraging digital platforms,” Lisa Holladay, Vice President, Global Brand Marketing, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, said.

The top issues facing brand owners right now include:

  • Needing more/better insight from data to understand customer journey
  • Needing better predictive data models for behavior (i.e., who is likely to buy?)
  • Proving the ROI of brand investments with results/data
  • Needing to better connect and communicate with customers
  • Growing new markets/growing outside the U.S.
  • Building trust with customers and overcoming customer skepticism
  • Profiling customers and understanding/influencing their customer journey (use of data)

So what’s working to overcome these issues and help brand owners to grow their brands?

Read more…

Finish Line Tells Us What Customers Want in Email Marketing

February 5th, 2016

For leading athletic retailer Finish Line, a memorable customer experience means focusing on product, presentation and people.

During MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015, after presenting his session on “What Customers Want,” Erin Hogg, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, interviewed 2015 MarketingSherpa Best-in-Show Award Winner, Aaron Buchanan, Digital Personalization Manager, Finish Line. His session presented marketers with information on how they could turn basic segmentation practices into highly personalized, multichannel campaigns.

 

In this day and age, it is very clear to see why 77% of consumers prefer to receive the majority of their marketing communications through email. And while it would be ideal to create one quick email blast to all your customers, personalized email communication is an important element in gaining and keeping subscribers.

That does present a challenge to marketers, because not everyone has the same interests or needs even if you have a general product.

In his interview, Aaron walked through ways marketers could create a significant email experience for customers. By following a few of the tips below, you can also build better engagement with your customers.

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Mail-to-Order Marketing Takeaways: 5 lessons to be learned from subscription boxes

October 9th, 2015

Who doesn’t love the feeling of seeing a package on their doorstep? While the mailbox is reserved for bills and sales flyers, a box on the front porch usually means a present.

The popularity of subscription boxes has allowed for millions of customers to enjoy this consumerism bliss bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly.

Subscription boxes are the ultimate way for consumers to enjoy products. The boxes are delivered on some sort of schedule, filled with products the customer is interested in and usually have some element of surprise.

There seems to be a subscription box for every category of shopper — food, pet supplies, “nerd gear” and even apocalypse prep. The diversity of the boxes available speaks to the widespread popularity among consumers. However, not every company has the interest or ability to expand into the subscription box space. This poses a question: What can we learn from the success of subscription boxes?

To answer that question, we’ve compiled five takeaways from boxes that marketers in any industry can utilize to promote their product.

 

Takeaway #1. Be surprising, but don’t get crazy

Customers who subscribe to boxes have a general idea of what types of products will be mailed to them. For example, a box member knows that every month he’ll get a t-shirt, an accessory of some type and a small gadget.

However, every month there is a surprise element — the products that will actually make up the box will be a surprise upon arrival. That means our example box member doesn’t know that this month the t-shirt will have a comics theme or that the accessory will be a pair of sunglasses.

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How Advance Auto Parts Uses Online Videos to Increase Conversion

September 29th, 2015

“We see a lift, definitely, in conversion, whenever we have video on the page,” Val DuVernet, Senior Program Manager, Advance Auto Parts, told me during an interview in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015.

Read on for three of the biggest lessons I learned from my interview with Val, and watch the below video to get your own ideas for using video to improve your brand’s conversion.

 

Three important points stuck out to me from this interview …

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