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Three Takeaways on Customer-centric Marketing from Email Summit 2015 Media Center

February 24th, 2015 1 comment

There are a lot of decisions that go into putting on Email Summit. Millions, probably, if you go deep enough.

But they all come around with one objective: you. The attendees and people who are reading about, and following, the event.

In every discussion and decision, we were asking ourselves how it would affect the experience. Your experience. So it made sense that when it came time to pick speakers and give out the Email Summit Awards, sponsored by BlueHornet, that customer-centric campaigns were the ones that rose above the rest.

Fellow Email Awards judge Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, and myself sat down on the steps of the (still under-construction) 2015 Email Summit Media Center to discuss some of our award winners and the customer-centric elements of campaigns featured at the Summit.

Media Center 2015

 

“The companies that focused on customers, that put their customers first, are the ones that ultimately have the sustainable competitive advantage,” Daniel said.

Our marketing compass points toward true customer-centricity, so it was important that marketers we featured held that same standard.

Daniel spoke about the B2B Award winner he has been working with over the past few months, Ferguson, and one of their main takeaways from their own event effort: Always look to enrich the customer experience.

Ferguson Enterprises generated more than $10 million and growing in online sales by enriching the customer experience within their 90 trade show events, which allowed Ferguson’s vendors to get in front of customers and promote their brands and products.

To accomplish that, Ferguson went from one email per event to a segmented series as well as optimized its onsite event registration for better retargeting.

Read the full case study here.

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Ecommerce: Blurring the lines between online and offline experiences

January 27th, 2015 No comments

What does the No. 2 song of 2013 and ecommerce have in common?

Blurred lines.

“The retail customer has an experience, and they expect that experience to be consistent, no matter where they engage with that company,” said Ryan West, CEO, West Music. “Our responsibility as omnichannel retailers is to blur the lines and make sure it’s going to be impactful, no matter where they engage with us.”

Ryan met with MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko in the Media Center at IRCE to discuss the importance of providing relevant customer experiences, no matter where that customer is. This includes both online and offline channels.

 

Geolocation in-store and online

Ryan dove into his experiences in geolocation in West Music’s marketing strategy, sharing how marketers can leverage emerging technologies and platforms to take geolocation to the next level.

This is key to marketers with regional brick-and-mortar stores, such  as West Music. Ryan explained retailers can now leverage Bluetooth low energy protocols and in-store mapping platforms, which allow customers to see on a foot-basis where they are in a store to find products with ease.

This blurs the lines of ecommerce and in-store by using proximity sensing.

Ryan also explains in the video how his company utilizes simple site merchandising and IP address locators to provide a more relevant experience for customers online.

This includes providing relevant promotions for regional customers, such as a grand piano liquidation sale or an offer that would apply for national customers, such as a simple discount or rebate.

This is key for marketers serving local and national markets, as some sales and offers may only be applicable to a regional store location.

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Data Security: Why transparency matters in an era of breaches

December 12th, 2014 1 comment

Want to build customer trust?

Be transparent about how you’re using and protecting the information you gather from them.

That’s the word from James Koons, Chief Privacy Officer for Listrak, which provides omnichannel digital marketing solutions to retailers.

James’ statement is underscored by the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study. It reveals that frequent security evaluation correlates with greater ecommerce success. Specifically, of the 2,161 marketers responding, those that evaluated security on a daily or weekly basis had more than a 10% higher rate of revenue and responsiveness than those that didn’t.

“Consumers are savvier when it comes to privacy and security,” James explained, “and we continue to get those ‘your-data-may-have-been-compromised-please-change-your-password’ messages, so we can’t help as consumers to be learned in that area.”

 

“Nowadays, it’s not a question of if something happens, it’s when something happens. How prepared are you and what are you going to do?” James asked.

Here are some highlights from their conversation in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE:

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What’s the Most Important Ecommerce Challenge? On-time Shipping

November 18th, 2014 No comments

You can optimize your website, signage and marketing, but if you can’t deliver what the customer orders when they expect it,  it’s all for naught.

That’s the word from Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief of “Retail TouchPoints,” a digital publication that covers customer-facing aspects of retail.

She spoke about the challenges of fulfillment with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition earlier this year.

“The most important thing is getting your inventory right,” Debbie pointed out. “It’s not as sexy as digital signage or what you’re doing face-to-face or on mobile technology or inside your store or website. But if customers want to buy online, you have to make sure you’re ready to fulfill orders when they want them.”

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Content Marketing: Lord of the airline safety videos

November 4th, 2014 No comments

Since when did airline safety videos become so darn viral?

What used to be a dry and boring legal formality has now become a way to engage audiences outside of the plane cabin.

As a huge fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movie franchises, my inner nerd did backflips when I watched Air New Zealand’s newest airline safety video:

 

For those not so familiar with the world of J. R. R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson, New Zealand was the filming location for all three “Lord of the Rings” films as well as the more recent “Hobbit” movies.

Featuring actors and characters from the movies, as well as flight attendants dressed as elves and an appearance from director Peter Jackson, Air New Zealand really outdid themselves. (However, I would have liked to see a little more Gollum in the video.)

This isn’t the first time the airline has capitalized on the “Hobbit” hype for its in-flight safety videos. In 2012, they used the theme in coordination with the first “Hobbit” film in the series.

Delta VideoHowever, Air New Zealand is not alone in taking safety videos to the next level.

Delta has produced some pretty entertaining safety videos as well, notably this 80s-inspired throwback featuring big hair, crazy clothes and of course some iconic characters from the time.

 

Storytelling in the strangest places

These safety videos, while still used for the in-flight safety precautions, were undoubtedly created to become viral online.

What was once an untapped resource has become a way to kill two birds with one stone: comply with FAA regulations and entertain viewers.

But even more than that, these videos are great content marketing. For Air New Zealand, the company is gaining more brand awareness from these videos because, let’s face it, most people will probably never make the 24-hour trek to the island.

However, by embracing its ties to the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and getting creative, it’s found a way to reach audiences who may have never heard of the airline company before.

For larger airlines like Delta, I would argue that having more entertaining safety videos is a way to spice up what used to be mundane travel for 165 million travelers each year.

As a popular network, these videos add more personality to the brand.

For me personally, I saw one of Delta’s comedic videos on a trip I took, and that video was the first thing I told my family about when I landed was that video. Even on the flight, people were chuckling and talking about the video, even if they had seen a similar one on a previous trip.

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How Seamless Email Turns Ecommerce Prospects into Buyers

October 14th, 2014 No comments

Only 2.6% of the people browsing an ecommerce site actually buy during that visit, but, according to Charles Nicholls, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to eventually make a purchase.

Charles is the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer for SeeWhy, a provider of cloud-based behavioral target marketing. He discussed what it takes to transform browsers into buyers with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, at the 2014 Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago.

Charles exhorted marketers to rethink the channel mindset and optimizing websites for a single session, and instead, think about optimizing the entire buying process. The key, he explained, is seamless use of email across desktops, tablets and smartphones.

Why? Customers may use all of these devices before finally making a purchase.

Consider this: SeeWhy has been tracking smart phone conversions, and, according to Charles, smartphones are outpacing tablets, which have become a desktop substitute. Also, 67% of smartphone conversions are done via email.

Watch the video below to learn about the importance of seamless emailing:

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Red Bull Media House’s Advice for Successful Content Marketing

September 19th, 2014 1 comment

Red Bull is running circles around every other name in the content marketing game.

Currently, the energy drink company has its wings dipped in a whole gamut of media channels — we’re talking digital, mobile, TV, print and music. People — millions of people — are actually consuming this content. (What a concept, right?)

But audiences aren’t tuning in because the company is marketing its energy drink. In fact, Red Bull continues to rise above the rest in content marketing by doing somewhat of the opposite. The company earned its spot on the content marketing throne by pushing its product to the side and its audience to the front in an extreme way.

Instead of a skinny aluminum can, Red Bull focuses its content on the sports, culture and lifestyle of its adventurous drinkers. In 2007, the company even launched Red Bull Media House — its very own media company that develops all of the company’s content pieces and manages its social media channels. 

Red Bull Media House Website

 

Some of the media house’s highlights? Take a look at Red Bull’s YouTube page (if you haven’t already as one of its 3.7 million subscribers). These sports action videos have views that rank in the thousands — some in the millions.

On the day this blog post was published, Danny MacAskill — “Way Back Home” had 32,988,764 views:

 

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Ecommerce: Going beyond omnichannel for creative customer experiences

September 9th, 2014 3 comments

Omnichannel is a word that many marketers have become familiar with in the past year or so. It’s the evolution of multichannel marketing and, some argue, an overused buzzword.

Lisa Butler, Head of Enterprise Solutions Enablement, eBay, agrees with that statement. In the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE, she sat down with Allison Banko, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, to discuss omnichannel and what it should really mean to marketers.

“So we went from multichannel, to omnichannel, to all channels — what it really means is just allowing customers to shop however they want,” Lisa said.

In its essence, the prefix omni- means “all.” For Lisa, this means “allowing customers to shop anywhere they want, receive their purchases whenever they want and giving them the best customer service.”

In her interview, Lisa explained the key to providing this engaging experience: developing creative new ways for customers to engage with a brand.

 

Lisa provided some examples of companies that are doing this well, such as Boxpark

Boxpark is a company in the UK that sets up pop-up stores for clothing brands in a unique way — the stores are a network of shipping containers. 

BOXPARK

 

For retailers, this is a creative solution for giving the customer the best (and coolest) experience, according to Lisa.

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Social Media: Leveraging visual marketing on Instagram and Pinterest

August 1st, 2014 3 comments

At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, sat down to discuss the growth and value of visual social media with Jason Miles, Co-founder, Liberty Jane Clothing, and Aime Schwartz, Digital Marketing Manager, King Arthur Flour.

Aime shared the importance of identifying what makes Instagram different from your Facebook and Twitter efforts. The goal is to showcase your value to multiple audiences through images, and think about reasons why people should engage with you and your brand.

Showcasing your value means being transparent, and with images, you can convey trust much better than just with words. (Want to learn more about trust through transparency? Watch a replay of Michael Norton, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, speak at Web Optimization Summit 2014.)

In social media, we’ve all heard that adding an image to a post will drive more traffic, and together, Aime and Jason presented ways to leverage images on social media, regardless of the product or service.

“The research shows that even on Facebook, pictures get more engagement than normal posts,” Jason said.

 

For example, one way to be creative with the photography, Jason suggested, is by using the 80/20 rule – the happy balance between uploading meaningful posts alongside your product images.

As you think about where to start with Instagram and Pinterest, make sure you conquer one platform before expanding and jumping onto all of them. Also, don’t forget to provide plenty of social sharing options on your website to allow users ample opportunities to gravitate toward their preference.

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Video Ecommerce: Getting up close and personal with products

July 22nd, 2014 1 comment

Creating an engaging experience for online shoppers is key to increasing conversion. Time and time again, we have seen case studies from in-the-trenches marketers who improved a user experience with engaging content, better catered to their customers’ needs, and ultimately, achieved revenue gains.

Videos are a treasure trove of opportunity for ecommerce marketers. Rather than static product images with bland descriptions, videos convey how a product looks, feels and works much better when a customer physically cannot touch a product.

At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, MarketingSherpa hosted the official Media Center at the event. Ecommerce marketers and industry experts shared their insights into what works, and what the future of ecommerce will look like.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, CEO and Founder, Joyus, stopped by the Media Center to share her story along with some tips for effective video marketing.

 

Joyus is an ecommerce site where fashion, beauty and health experts find the latest and best products, which can also be purchased directly from the site. The videos are brief, showing  products in action with highlights from the experts on their unique features. Videos are also time stamped, so users can skip ahead to what they want to know about a product, whether it be sizing or color choices.

Here’s an example of one of Joyus’ product videos:

 

But Joyus doesn’t stop there.

Users can also see what other products were featured in a video, and join the community conversation via a Facebook embedded Q-and-A section.

In a way, Joyus has transcended video marketing and uses videos as content marketing. High-quality, informative videos that are easily sharable engage users incredibly more for Joyus.

All of these efforts have earned impressive results. Joyus reported that its video viewers are buying 4.9 times more than those that do not watch the product videos, according to a news release.

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