An e-marketing course…

11 full weeks of classes has just passed – and I can’t believe we are coming to the 2nd last week of classes. Thinking about this e-marketing class, it has just been unbelievably interesting that I am enrolled in it. Just last year, when my co-op coach asked me if I would consider taking an e-marketing class, I hastily replied ‘No.’. You see, I wasn’t comfortable with technology and the thoughts of engaging with online platforms just weren’t that appealing. Surprisingly, when summer came, I decided to enroll myself in the e-marketing class, because I recognized the importance of online marketing and how useful it will be to have such skills. I saw myself opening up a little towards the idea of embracing the wonders of the internet.

A few days ago, I was talking to a recent UBC graduate and I was telling her how challenging and effortful this course was – and she replied “But it’s all going to be worth it. I wished I had taken this course. At least 80% of entry-level jobs require that.” As I pondered about her comment, I thought about the takeaways from this class. I don’t think I have become excellent in using the digital tools, but it has definitely open up the idea of me being comfortable around them – knowing that I am capable of learning them. Also, we know how much technology is changing every day – of course I know many of us “know” it, but we do not really “sit” with it – at least for me. The “news” section at the beginning of our every day class led me to read, subscribe and blog about e-marketing articles that I would have never done before. (By the way, I find this Clickz a really resourceful site with online marketing news.) And while many of us are hyped up over using digital tools, this class has taught me what it meant to be careful of the shiny diamond syndrome – don’t get caught up using a certain platform just because everyone is using it, rather – as Groundswell states – know your target audience (People), why your business is using it (Objective), how should you be using it (Strategizing), and finally what should you be using (Tools).

Many people come into this class because they had an interest or they were already experts in the field. I came into this class because I recognized that e-marketing was important. It was definitely a steep learning curve for me but if you were to ask if I would have taken this course after knowing what’s it like – ‘A definite yes…… but be prepared to be pushed out of your comfort zone 🙂 .’

 

 

November 19, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Holiday Shopping Personalities — retailers exclusive!

The holiday season is here! Well, it’s the time of the year again – Christmas is approaching. Interestingly, I came across an article about ‘The 5 Online Holiday Shopping Personality.’ As a retailer, have you ever wonder how you should be planning your marketing strategies? Let’s take a quick snapshot at the 5 personalities by Toni Zito.

Source: ny.racked.com
  • Uber Planner – Someone who has already purchased their holiday presents for 2012. Tend to be savvy shoppers who stock up gifts for upcoming festive seasons and who knows their research well. Will most probably be responsive to “Christmas in July” and post-holiday promotions.
  • Down to the Wire Procrastinator – Antithesis of Uber Planners. Last-minute shoppers who are extremely responsive to last-minute deals. Making the online shopping experience for them easier helps and a big bulk of this group is college students.
  • Cyber Monday Surfer – Values an awesome deal and is willing to sacrifice productivity for the sake of monitoring deals online. They are sure of which deals they are after and the want to secure the offer “while stock lasts”. So, it’s important to get the right deals in front of this group at the right time.
  • Black Friday Fanatic – Gets in line as soon as one shopping trip ends. Always on-the-go, loves crowd and the thrill of the deal. A strategic online campaign with constant calls-to-action, in-ads tools to improve the tracking performance   (QR codes, emails) can increase Black Friday turnout.
  • Green Monday Bargainer – Somewhere in between the Uber Planner and the Down to the Wire Procrastinator. They know what they want and do not want to be stressed out, but usually get shopping done in the nick of time. Making in-ad shopping tools selective for them – for example shopping for your mom, brother, girlfriend etc. will help.

Knowing these 5 personalities is important because it allows you to plan how you would want to target these audience groups. If your product is a niche market, it would most probably be possible to identify where the bulk of your customers lie in. How do you identify which personalities your customers belong to then? This brings me back to the constant reminders of listening (monitoring), conversing (talking) and energizing/ supporting/ embracing (Groundswell) to your online conversations. Understanding the topics where most of your conversations are diverting towards, what people are commenting in your review sites  and how they are interacting with one another would help you better decipher their personalities. In that case, can a brand have more than one personality – for sure! That’s when effective allocation of resources comes in!

November 13, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Brands take the shopping experience up a level with interactive video shopping

Talk about shopping – and it’s more than just going into a store nowadays. Retailers are placing equal emphasis on both the offline and online shopping experience, as more consumers are shopping online due to convenience and lower costs. In fact, retailers are starting to create interactive shopping videos for customers. Take a look at the example from Barneys New York.

A snapshot of an interactive shopping video by Barneys New York

Interactive video shopping are basically videos for online customers who can watch the video and ‘shop’ at the same time – this is made possible with clickable links, high quality videos etc. In fact, as I read this article by Justin Foster (founder of Liveclicker – an e-commerce and online marketing company), I started to ponder on the reasons as to why brands are making this shift …

As I recall my consumer behaviour class, I learnt how commercials increase the desire of a product by creating emotional chords within consumers – turning ‘wants’ into ‘needs’ easily. What is perfect about an interactive shopping video is that not only is it a commercial, it allows immediate call-to-action. It’s as though killing two birds with one stone – creating and fulfilling a consumer’s need simultaneously.

Thus, as the trend of interactive video shopping is growing on the net, more brands are experimenting with it. Curious to know whether your brand is suitable for such a shopping experience and how you can be successful with it, check out the article!

November 11, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

How far would you go (virtually) to get a job?

Times have changed. Recruitment is not simply through a resume and a cover letter, especially for the creative jobs – communications, social media, ads development and many more. It’s not just about ‘talking’ anymore – companies would love to see how you can do it.

Just last summer, MasterCard Canada launched an intern search for the cashless society campaign. It asked student applicants to demonstrate what a cashless society means to them using social media. Students were asked to send in a resume, a cover letter and a creative digital submission of what a cashless society looks like to them. And the more ‘likes’ they receive for the video, the higher chance they stand in getting the internship. Also, updates of interview offers were conducted via twitter. Within 4 weeks, the applications rose to 350 applicants and 46% of MasterCard twitter conversations were about the intern program. In the past, they received 30 applications but with this campaign, they had a total of 532 qualified candidates and MasterCard hired an extra intern because of the quality of the candidates. Now, the social interview process is part of MasterCard’s global recruitment effort.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Ellen DeGeneres hired a Washington State University alumna, Erica Norris, a Bachelor of Communications student after she sent in huge box with a QR code pasted on it – with the code leading to a Youtube video of why Ellen should hire her. In the end, Erica was invited to her show and was offered the job on the spot. This was her second attempt to get Ellen’s attention through the video (her first was just a video online).

Look at the wonders of how the internet acts as a platform for the hiring process. Yes, indeed – without it, this type of hiring process would be made impossible. But what is important here is that companies are recognizing the need to hire people “who knows what they are doing” – what I mean is that if you claim to be applying for a social media role, you don’t have to be perfect, but are you at least engaged in it?

Listen and respond appropriately — by adding a bit of twist!

Recently, we have been talking a lot about listening to online users and monitoring their conversations online in class. Interestingly, I came across an example of a company, who listened well and responded timely, in a fairly “unique” way.

Last week, a man posted a long comment on Bodyform’s Facebook page – the company that produces maxipads. He was complaining about how the company’s advertisements have lied to him, leading him to believe that having a period is the most enjoyable thing in the month – bike riding, roller-coasters,  dancing, parachuting, until he saw what it truly meant from his girlfriend. His post garnered about 97 000 likes and within a week, Bodyform replied with a somewhat awe-inspiring sarcastic video, featuring an actress playing as the CEO.

My first reaction to the video? A really bold move by Bodyform – they “acknowledged” their fault, but it wasn’t meant to be genuine. Is this a good or bad thing – I think it could go both ways. Speaking from a general public standpoint, people would assume that such a topic is of general knowledge, and thus, supports Bodyform for its classy, “funny” and “excellent” rebuttal. A minority might think that’s a bit harsh.

But, this is an example of how a company who chose not to ignore, instead, managed to realize an opportunity by turning around negative feedback and using it to its advantage. What more can be said since Bodyform has been receiving positive comments, 8569 ‘likes’ and 4504 ‘shares’ so far.

Word of mouth and the internet

For those B2B digital marketers out there – good news! Bizo launched a news and community website – ‘Digital Marketing Remix’ specifically for you. Chancing upon an article by them – ‘Remix Opinion – Activating B2B Advocates to Boost Leads and Sales’, I found out that many B2B companies get  more than half of their businesses from word of mouth. In fact, I have always thought of word of mouth in relation to a consumer’s decision process only, but this article tells me that advocacy is even more influential in business than in consumer purchase decisions, because you lose millions if you make a wrong decision. However, regardless of whether it is a B2C or B2B transaction, the reason that advocacy is important is the same: It’s all about trust.

Source: vouchfor.com

 

Let’s bring ‘word of mouth’ to an online context. How does the internet facilitate the ‘word of mouth’ process?

  • Efficient (yet scary) – The Internet spreads things like a wildfire. Spot something good – people ‘share’ it and you or your product gets famous. A negative publicity – you get famous too, but in a bad light. Take South Korean singer Psy’s hit song – ‘Gangnam style’ as an example. The song has stormed to number one in charts around the world while the video has been watched more than 454 million times on Youtube since July. But look at how some have lost their jobs over social media – the recent insensitive KitchenAid tweet joke at President Barack Obama’s late grandmother.
  • Convenient – The internet is transparent. Just a mouse click away, or a search up Google, people find information in real time. Reviews, price differences, or product features, you get to compare what you want. With this ‘convenient’ factor, I think it’s important for businesses to consider how they could make ‘searching online’ more effective – simple yet not complicated. Two good examples I can think of in a travelling industry is cheapoair.com and priceline.com – they present different flight carriers in a single page with all the lowest deals, instead of me having to ‘select sites to compare’. Some consumers might like the option of comparing deals on different sites, but I prefer when the entire ‘search’ (i.e. lowest deals) has been done for me in a single page.

The internet is indeed a platform for word-of-mouth, and firms should definitely be taking note of how impactful and important that is.

Let your brand strategy guide your social strategy

I remembered an interesting insight being pointed out in class. “Social media is the ‘in thing’ now. So let’s have a facebook account!” I believe many companies say this countless times. But why exactly is a company employing social media – many of them might not know the reason. Many businesses fall into the trap of following the “latest trend” as they would like to “keep up” with other businesses.

Unfortunately, a social strategy is only as good as the brand strategy that guides it – brands must lead the consumer with a clear vision of who they are and what they stand for, while grounding all social engagement in that vision. The danger is that without a proper understanding of why you are employing social media, or what the needs of your consumers are, firms fail to deliver a cohesive and relevant brand message – causing their plans to backfire.

Source: gadling.com

So, I would like to talk about a premier luxury hospitality company that allows its brand strategy to guide its social engagement. Four Seasons hotel has a mission to deliver exceptional “user” experience with the desired outcome of “making people (its consumers) feel great.” The company focuses heavily on designing experiences that are tailored to its customers.  Recognising that successful brands are those that allow fans to define and syndicate it in this digital age, Four Seasons has shifted its ways of communication and digital media is now 50% of the brand’s marketing efforts. Its digital tools include Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, location-based services, tumblr, blogs and microsities, Google+, Weibo and an online Four Seasons Magazine site. Four Seasons even holds virtual wine tastings events through twitter, where customers can share descriptions and evaluations online. Recognizing that multimedia content has been the most effective in engaging consumers, Four Season strive to deliver interesting and relevant content, resulting in an increase in 30% youtube views (280 000 views).

That’s a successful example of using social media correctly! Indeed, I always like to visualize the brand strategy as the big umbrella – where your marketing strategies (offline or online) fall under that!

 

Olay Products in the Consumer Decision Making Journey

Last week, I came across an interesting reading article about the consumer decision journey. The article talks about how the consumer decision journey is starting to change. In the past, the traditional way to gain the loyalty of customers might start from awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase and then loyalty. But now, there are four primary phases representing potential battlegrounds where marketers can win or lose –

1)      initial consideration

2)      active evaluation, or the process of researching potential purchases

3)      closure, when consumers buy brands

4)      postpurchase, when consumers experience them

Source: Mckinseyquarterly.com

As I ponder about the consumer package industry, I thought about how P&G Olay products are a great example of how they are tailoring their offerings to the current needs when a consumer makes a decision. Through Olayforyou.com, P&G provides credible consultative advice for consumers without them having to leave their home. P&G understood the frustrations women faced in having to choose a suitable skin product, and invented a streamlined way to connect with consumers online. The site’s narrator walks a customer through a series of engaging questions about her skin and from analyzing the customer’s responses, the system quickly assembles a tailored set of recommendations for a regime that is designed to meet one’s age and stated desires.

Specifically, I feel that by creating a unique shopping experience in the ‘active evaluation’ stage, Olayforyou.com has naturally won customers over in the closure and postpurchase stages. By giving personalized recommendations, P&G is minimizing customers’ research time and directing them to what they want, yet giving them a range of options suited to their skin. With customer reviews about the products, this increases customers’ confidence in a product during the closure stage. And when consumers experience the product, they can always ‘share’ their experience with their friends. Since this is an “online” experience, sharing becomes more transparent  – others can look at the reviews of other customers or try the shopping experience themselves.

With increased satisfaction and better experience, P&G does see an increase in their equity scores and better loyalty to the brand.

September 30, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

Shopping industry uses adwords

Among all the industries that use Adwords, the shopping industry uses adwords advertising the most (54%).

Source: JTDesigns

What are some of the reasons behind this trend?

Research shows that e-commerce spending is increasing. In particular, online shopping by aged 50 and above has surged by 25% since 2010. The large bulk of this increase has been attributed to online shopping transaction for music. On the other hand, shoppers are also turning to the internet for its convenience. Marketers have realized the opportunity of consumers spending most of their time researching online, and have taken advantage of that.

Secondly, many consumers want to make sure they make the “right buy.” As a consumer, I realized that internet shopping plays a great role when I am unsure of my buys. Because of consumers’ indecisiveness, shopping industries have chosen to use adwords, in the hope to “persuade” a potential consumer to buy their product. For example, I am thinking of buying a dress, but am unsure of what I really want. As I type ‘summer dresses’ in google search, many different types of ads for dresses come up – casual dresses, vintage dresses etc. In a way, shopping businesses are competing with one another online.

The increase in e-commerce spending and the indecisive nature of consumers are just some of the reasons as to why the shopping industry uses adwords the most. I’m sure there are many more.

September 25, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

The value of blogs for mums

Recently, I read an article on how blogs are a trusted source for mums. I used to picture mums diving straight into help books when it comes to raising and caring for their children. But research shows that among mothers ages 28 to 45, blogs are the most trusted source (72%), followed by Facebook at 64% and Youtube at 36%.

Taken from experiencematters.criticalmass.com

I personally know a few mum bloggers – simplystylishmom (one of the nominees for 2011’s 30 Fabulous Mom bloggers) and poemapromise (a good friend of mine). I understood that such blogs create a sense of connectedness and trust.

The blogs connect mothers in an online community. In real time, mums are able to read similar issues, gain tips, and share ideas with one another. In short, they know they are not going through motherhood alone. Rather, there is an invisible support and fun going on. Talk about your child’s clothing style, the types of arts and crafts your children did, and even family vacations … all these are a form of promotion. It minimizes the decision-making process for a mum, because they know that a trustworthy source has already tried it.

How is value created online? In terms of blogs for mums, it creates a sense of connectedness and builds trust, all in real time.

September 11, 2012Permalink Leave a comment