Driving Retail from Digital to Destination

  • The marketing funnel has imploded under its own inadequacy
  • Marketers must respond to the shift to digital with the 5 Ds of consumer engagement
  • Analytics is essential to understand the path to conversion

For decades, Australian retailers have under-invested in technology and online innovation. After all there was no “burning platform.” People still bought goods – especially appliances and larger items in stores, and “online” was considered risky, unreliable, and difficult to navigate when it came to returns, warranties and customer service.

But then consumers connected. Reviews helped identify quality products. Reputation management allowed online merchants to demonstrate their credibility. And web experiences improved. Prices were better.

People talked.

And kept talking.

Those conversations shifted from sites to platforms. They happened in places far away from the brand police and customer service teams. They proliferated on sites like Twitter, Get Satisfaction and Facebook.

But just as the connected consumer shifts digital channels in the blink of an eye, taking the conversation with them, so too can brands follow this consumer lead. Those with a considered and well executed strategy can connect the dots and drive retail from digital to destination.

Marketers should develop three practices to drive retail from digital to destination:

  1. Understand the 5 Ds of Consumer Engagement: The marketing funnel has imploded under its own inadequacy. It’s time to understand the buyer’s journey from the outside-in. Following the 5 Ds allows marketers to understand, map and engage their connected consumers at key stations on the buyers journey
  2. When it comes to content and channels, don’t think ONLY think AND: It’s time to break down the silos. Based on the 5 Ds, marketers must begin to work with strategic omni-channel (or multi-channel) formats. This means understanding how content, interactions and engagement work at each station – and where digital can extend or augment an experience (digital or non-digital)
  3. Know and measure your path to conversion: Don’t fool yourself that all conversion must happen in-store. Make it easy to purchase anywhere – after all, mobile is the ultimate impulse device. But understand that in-store is now about controlling the brand experience. Ensure that the destination experience is worth the journey in. Use omni-channel analytics to measure and understand the path to conversion.

Now, take a moment to view this (now finished) campaign from Adidas NEO. What’s the customer experience? What’s the journey? And what’s the engagement strategy at play?

Now, how would you play this out with your brand? Be creative.

 

Report – CMOs: Time to Re-Cast the Marketing Funnel

It is often said that companies only have two functions – marketing and innovation. Despite this, most corporate marketing practices are based on century old theories and frameworks that no longer adequately accommodate the complexities faced by today's CMO. Rather than the inside-out view offered by the traditional marketing funnel, marketers need to develop a view of the customer journey that takes into account the challenges and opportunities presented by digital and social technologies.

To be released tomorrow this "big picture" report provides an outside-in view of the “connected customer” and key stages in next generation customer experience. The report provides a vital framework for marketing leaders seeking to move from a transactional relationship with their customers to one based on what I am calling the “5 Ds of Customer Engagement”.

But wait! There’s more!

You can go beyond the report and join me for a webinar on this topic to understand:

1. Six trends driving change in digital marketing
2. How the 5 Ds of customer engagement reflect the new realities in customer engagement and marketing
3. Key recommendations for marketers seeking strategic approaches rather than simply digitizing "business as usual"

And the best thing to remember about a webinar is that they are recorded. If you can’t join live, register and watch in your own time and tweet me with any questions.

A Palpable Dis-Ease – Graham Brown’s Mobile Youth

We don’t have to look far to see that we are living in a digital world. On my desk sits half a dozen connected devices, wifi enabled, flashing, beeping, spewing updates from sites, friends and acquaintances thousands of miles away. But for me, this is a world that I have chosen to participate. For many in the Gen X and Baby Boomer demographics, adoption of technology has been a conscious choice. We grapple with this changing world for work or for pleasure – sometimes for both … but always with the knowledge that the off button is only a short distance away.

But for succeeding generations – the always connected Gen Y and Gen Z groups, there has never been a time of “non-connection”. A battery or wifi failure is not just a technical issue. It’s an existential crisis.

In May 2012, when young Chinese student, Xiao Zheng, sold his kidney in order to buy an iPad2, the headlines around the world amplified the outrage. From the outside it’s easy to point a finger and call out the insatiable materialistic desires of a morally bankrupt generation. But surely there is something deeper going on.

Graham Brown’s new book The Mobile Youth digs below the surface to reveal a compelling story of dis-ease. Peppered with statistics, insight – and most importantly – an anthropologist-cum-storytellers eye for observation, Graham reveals a hard truth that we all share in:

The rise of technology isn’t undermining the social fabric of society. Technology’s rise is a response to our loss of a meaningful social world.

As a reader of a lot of business communication (books, blogs, papers, presentations), I am often disappointed that the power of the writing doesn’t match the power of the ideas. This book is the opposite. It’s a business book written in the style of a page-turning blockbuster. For anyone interested in the changes taking place in our society and the collision of generations, culture and communication, it makes for compelling reading.

But most importantly, it provides an insight into the seemingly disconnected nature of our ever-more connected lives. Download your copy of The Mobile Youth and let me know what you think. I found it fascinating.

Trust and the Marketer

Consumers have always suspected marketers. Of something.

But this “something” has always been elusive. Hard to pin down.

In the back of the mind of most consumers, there is a small voice – a remnant of our evolutionary instinct – that warns us of a potential risk, a trap. The limbic system is part of our pre-verbal brain that we commonly refer to as “gut instinct”. And because it works without language, we are often challenged to put these feelings into words. As a result, we are left with a sense of mistrust. Something vague. Indiscernible.

But the limbic brain is also the space of creativity. It is the place of imagination and symbolism. And it is the essential playground of the marketer.

Each day, as consumers are bombarded with 3000+ messages, it is the limbic brain that acts as a first level of defence. Most droll pieces of advertising or communication are discarded – with only the most creative and most relevant breaking through.

These days, marketers have to work even harder to cut through the noise and confusion. It’s not just about creativity. It’s also about psychology, human behaviour (change) and analytics. We need to cover all four.

Over the last few years, Australian TV show, Gruen Planet, has peeled back the layers of the mysterious advertising onion. It has laid bare the role of planning and strategy, creative, copy, image and production. Blogs like Adam Ferrier’s Consumer Psychologist provide insight and analysis into what people buy and why they do so.

Infographics like the one below, provide a neat way of understanding some of the techniques used in advertising – but my limbic brain also tells me that we need a different approach now. Sure these approaches will continue to work – but we need to go further. We need to build a different kind of marketing – one that does not set off the limbic alarm bells. We need to address the deficit of trust experienced by consumers.

What if we could create marketing with a purpose (not marketing with a cause). Imagine what that would mean for our customers. Imagine what it would mean for our employees.

And imagine what it would mean for the marketing industry.

Sound dangerous? Don’t worry, it’s just your limbic system acting up.

SneakyAdvertising

Trust is the Gateway to App Sales Success

chart-of-the-day-how-people-find-apps-august-2012

When we search on the internet we are investing a small amount of trust in the speed, responsiveness and accuracy of the search engine that we are using. After all, the future of your brand is micro. We trust that Google or Bing is reliably trawling the web for the latest information, indexing knowledge to the deepest level and connecting the dots between what we need to know and where it can be found.

Both Google and Microsoft invest significant resources in improvements to their search engines. But it’s not just about the information source – it’s vitally about relevance. This is the scary truth about search – that the search engines already connect a vast amount of information about us and make it available to the public – to people, brands and businesses.

But this fantastic chart from Silicon Alley Insider reveals that when it comes to recommendation – specifically for app discovery – social referral accounts for almost as much as search. The research carried out by Nielsen indicated that 63% of Android and iOS users use search to discover new apps in the various app stores – only slightly in front of personal recommendation from family or friends at 61%.

But the thing that drives both of these figures is trust. We trust search and we trust our friends and family. We trust search and social. And together they can be a powerful driver of sales – for whether we like it or not – we are all retailers now.

The Social Power of YouTube Search

Creating a YouTube channel for your brand is a no-brainer. As the second largest search engine – and especially influential with younger audiences – YouTube can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your digital strategy.

But just as we must optimise our blog posts and website pages to achieve decent ranking on Google’s search engine, we also also optimise our videos for effective search results on YouTube.

The interesting thing for me, however, is the focus and importance that is placed on the social dimension of the YouTube search algorithm.

Take a look at this great infographic from Martin Missfeldt – showing how it’s not just about the number of views or keyword relevance that are important. Other elements that impact your ranking include:

  • Sharing – through social sites like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Google+, as well as the number of sites that embed and link to your videos
  • Reactions – the number, type and style of interactions have a massive impact – including votes, responses, playlist additions, comments, reactions and so on
  • Audience retention – how to your videos rate competitively, do they hold your viewers throughout the clip?

This social dimension means that – when combined with the overall strength of your YouTube channel (authority, trust, subscribers etc) – your success with video is largely reliant on your ability to create a vibrant community rather than casual video viewers. And that means really understanding your audience – not just uploading a ready-made TVC. And it makes me wonder whether this is Google carrying A/B testing on their search engine … because for ages I have thought that the future of search is social. This may be one of the early steps.

youtube-video-seo-ranking-factors-infographic

Retail Innovation? Try Embracing Showrooming

2005Mar-AustinTypeTour-137 - Roadhouse Relics - Visit Our ShowroomYou know what it is like … you see an item online. It’s a great deal – a special price and a coupon code. That credit card is burning a hole in your desk. But in the back of your mind is that one lingering doubt … will it fit.

So what do you do? You “showroom” – you go in-store to check the item for size, fit, colour or texture. You do your “shopping” in-store and you make your purchase online. This practice is known as “showrooming” and a recent article suggests that retailers have some work to do to avoid falling victim to this new shopping trend. Retail software vendor, CrossView, suggest that cross-channel retailing is the answer.

And there is big business at stake – with more than one in two Australian shoppers aged over 15 now shopping online. PwC and Frost & Sullivan predict that 2012 online spending levels will hit $16 billion – and will grow at a compounded growth rate of 14.1% through 2016. But these figures don’t include travel, events, financial services or media downloads.

This is backed up not only by spending but by brand awareness and customer engagement via social media. According to SocialBakers.com, Australians love online shopping – with Fashion, eCommerce and FMCG industries ranking the top three Australian Facebook pages in the year up to July 2012.

And it is this convergence of eCommerce and social media – in what we can loosely call “social commerce” – that is potentially a game changer for retail. For decades we have seen an entrenched refusal of Australian retailers to invest in the kind of digital experimentation required to lead to breakthrough innovation. This, in turn, left gaping holes in the market – which benefited companies like Apple and Amazon.

But if we look to emerging consumer behaviour we can see not only threat but opportunity. What if retailers were to embrace showrooming? What if, rather than discouraging it through restrictive in-store policies and management – retailers owned, encouraged and transformed the customer experience so that it was EASY for shoppers to showroom.

After all, if the social web has taught us anything in the last decade it is that consumerisation crushes all obstacles.

Does This Get Me Made, Laid or Paid?

We tend to overcomplicate things in the marketing world. We dig down into motivation, intention and desire. We walk the murky depths of persuasion and influence and spend inordinate amounts of time trolling data points in the hope of extracting a grain of insight.

But, if we are honest, most of us are wondering about the WIIFM model – what’s in it for me.

As consumers we THINK we have a handle on the exchange – a purchase for a good or service. But branding takes us beyond this – tapping into deeper needs and urges. After all, a consumer purchase is never just a transaction – and branding done well will ensure that we weigh up three key points – does this get me:

  • Made
  • Laid
  • Paid
The Social Retailer: what ‘social’ means for the future of commerce

Tara Hunt, founder of retailing startup buyosphere– explains this in more detail in this great presentation. Looking at the future of retail in a social context, she cuts through the social and marketing noise to concentrate on the most important thing. Not product. Not even design. But customers. And that’s why marketing really is sexy.

View more presentations from Tara Hunt

Influence: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Most of us are in love with the idea of influence. We love the idea that we are influencers or influential within our peer groups, we seek out the favour and attention of others who influence us, and we attempt to measure track and trace influence across different cultural, societal, economic and demographic groups. And yet this thing – influence – remains elusive.

Some time back, Malcolm Gladwell came up with an easy to understand model of influence. It seemed to resonate with many of us who are deeply immersed in the web and have seen, first hand, the apparent randomness of online sentiment and human digital behaviour. His book, The Tipping Point took its lead from Stanley Milgram’s principle that we are all only separated by six degrees – suggesting that within a network, the “hub” or “connector” plays a vital role in the transmission of information across that network.

I have always viewed this theory with scepticism – preferring the strength of weak ties model popularised by Duncan Watts. It’s a shame in a way, as the Gladwell model – the Tipping Point – is easily articulated and understood, while Watts’ approach is more complicated, random and difficult to apply in the real world. Yet, even a casual glance at the social media landscape will show you just how difficult it can be to boil “influence” down to a single factor or variable. Klout has tried it as have PeerIndex and Kred – and there are dozens more on the horizon offering different versions, metrics and tools that attempt to measure the chaos of our behaviours and patterns of indifference.

Ultimately, when it comes to influence, I keep returning to one important point –> it’s not about influence, it’s about trust. And until we, as business leaders, as marketers and as publishers of information and content, understand this, we will continue to dance around the real issue.

And what IS the real issue? Just take a look at this infographic from CrowdTap and read between the lines. Hint: it’s not about your brand.

crowdtap-influence-marketing-infographic

Social Actions Beat Social Proof

Over the last week or so I thought I would try a little experiment … after all, social media and its immediacy allows us to test and learn simply and easily, right?

I wanted to test whether different phrasings would impact click through rates from social media sites to destination addresses.

Now, usually I either share a link without introduction, or explain that I was “reading” an article with its link.

Now we know that 90% of people visiting your website will just “read” or “lurk”, that 9% will modify, comment or add to your content and that only 1% will drive activity. The 90-9-1 Principle is what Jakob Nielsen calls Participation Inequality.

So, in effect, announcing that I was “reading” an article planted me firmly in the world of the “lurker”.

But the concept of social proof – whereby one’s actions shapes the actions of those around us – suggests that my “reading” of an article would open the door to others who were also of the “lurking mindset”. So what happens if we re-shape that interaction? What if I was “commenting on” rather than simply “reading”? What if I was “pre-ordering”? How are these “social actions” playing out and are they a different order of magnitude?

Based on the analytics coming out of su.pr it seems that there is an impact – and it is in the 20%-25% range. Taking out the spikes for particularly hot topics I normally average about 150-180 clicks per link. But using the “commenting on” prefix I am regularly hitting higher levels of between 200-230 clicks. Over the coming days I will try variations on this theme:

  • Tweeting at different times of day
  • Re-tweeting the same link at different times
  • Using different social actions

The cool thing is, that a little attention to your choice of language and the framing of an outcome can have a positive impact. And I have a feeling that it may well have an impact on the types of audiences (participants rather than lurkers) that you are reaching. Now, THAT would be brilliant.