Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why Marketers Are Missing the Mark on Customer Expectations

Because some brands have been able to achieve successful one-to-one targeted marketing, customers' expectations for communication are extremely high. So how can marketers push themselves to meet this demand?
As marketers we live in a very interesting time. The explosion of new forms of consumer interactions like social networks and mobile apps means we, as consumers, have interactions with brands we could not have dreamed of even a few years ago. The downside to these new options and opportunities is that it leaves the consumer in us wanting more from some of the more traditional communication channels.
These issues are not limited to "traditional" brands that are trying to stay current with the latest technologies and channels. Even the most cutting-edge and advanced brands and businesses are suffering from consumer expectation gaps as they try to deliver value and utility in all of their communications with their customers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Facebook Messenger Adds E-Commerce Capabilities

One of the Messenger features introduced on the first day of Facebook’s F8 conference in San Francisco is specially designed for commerce and shopping. How can brand marketers leverage it to improve their campaigns?
Prior to Facebook’s F8 event this week, rumors swirled that the social giant was going to turn Messenger into a platform for developers. The day one keynote at the conference confirmed this speculation and revealed that Facebook will not only open up Messenger to developers, but also to online retailers, allowing marketers to use the platform to further their e-commerce efforts.
Facebook chief executive (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg introduced the Messenger Platform in his keynote speech this afternoon, which will allow developers to build apps that directly integrate into Messenger. Following Zuckerberg’s address, David Marcus, Facebook’s vice president of messaging products, unveiled another interesting Messenger feature specifically designed for commerce and shopping.
When consumers make a purchase online, they usually get an email to confirm their order and another email to notify them that their order has shipped. Then, they may get more emails if their order goes wrong. But now, 600 million Messenger users will be able to view their shopping information and negotiate with merchants just within the app.
"[Those separate email threads are] pretty inconvenient on desktop and barely usable on mobile," said Marcus. "[So] we are reinventing the personal shopping experience online and on mobile."
How does this feature work? For example, if a consumer purchases a T-shirt on on desktop, he can choose the option to "look at details in Messenger." Then the online retailer will send a "thank you" note, as well as a receipt, to Messenger on a mobile device. When the order is delivered, Everlane will send tracking information to Messenger in real time, which includes a map, shipping date, and estimated arrival date. If users want to change or return orders, they can communicate with Everlane customer service directly through the app.
Nathaniel Perez, global head of social at SapientNitro, believes that this feature is a logical step forward for Facebook.
"In a nutshell, the biggest move here is that Facebook has been taking an integrated approach to messaging," Perez says. "Brand marketers are trying to leverage messaging to engage with consumers, because that's what Millennials love. Now brands will be able to connect with consumers in real time through messaging, which [they] didn't have before at scale. I think having a direct line with consumers is probably attractive to any brand."
Karim Hijazi, CEO of social commerce company Tagspire, agrees that integrating customer service functionality into Messenger is a smart move.
"Alibaba's Messenger and WeChat in China have seen great success with this kind of feature. It's interesting to see the trend of social commerce in China finally making its way here in the U.S.," Hijazi says. "I think Facebook has realized that consumers want to transact on their mobile devices."
Brands will be able to leverage this messaging feature to improve consumer relationships and further convert users into brand loyalists, according to Hijazi.
Facebook hasn’t disclosed the number of brands working with Facebook Messenger on the platform.
This move follows another from Facebook just a week ago, when the company unveiled a mobile payment feature for its Messenger app.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mobile Optimization: 4 Tips for Tapping Into the Asian Market

A mobile strategy in Asia is essential, and getting the user experience right is just as important.
It had long been predicted, but 2014 was the year mobile Internet access finally overtook desktop for the first time on a global scale. Mobile marketing is hugely important wherever your business operates, but it can be absolutely vital in key Asian markets. 

India and China both reached their own mobile tipping points in 2012 and according to the ITU, the UN’s agency for ICT statistics, Asia and the Pacific have the highest number of mobile broadband subscriptions, more than 750 million by 2014. 

Research from the Google Consumer Barometer, meanwhile, found that Singapore (85 percent) and South Korea (80 percent) had the highest smartphone penetration rates. 

Many Asian markets also have significant numbers of consumers who accessed the Internet exclusively via their smartphones. Thirty-five percent of Malaysian consumers, 24 percent of Vietnamese, and 16 percent of Singaporeans only access the Internet using their phones. 

Despite this, it’s clear that many businesses are still not optimizing their websites for mobile. 

Julian Persaud, managing director of Google Southeast Asia, says 88 percent of Singaporeans have experienced problems when accessing websites on their phones, "so clearly there’s a lot more work to be done. It’s vital for every business to think mobile-first." 

"This is a massive wake-up call to any business in Singapore without a mobile-optimized site or app. This is no longer a viable approach – you're effectively slamming your shop door in the face of your customers." 

Simplify Your Site 

Whether you’re adapting your existing website to work better when accessed on a mobile device or designing a site exclusively for mobile, you should be aware that some things that work well on desktop might not be as effective on a smaller screen. 

Only a third of mobile users make it past the first page of a site they visit, so it’s important to place important information, calls to action, and clear navigation options as prominently as possible on the landing page. 

Page-loading time is another huge issue. Almost half of mobile users expect a website to load within two seconds and 40 percent are likely to abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. 

Cutting down on large photo files and auto-loading sound and video files can help reduce loading-times, as well as making your display design easier to get right. It’s worth remembering that Apple doesn’t support Flash and, with the iPhone currently enjoying an upsurge in Asia, it might be best to avoid Flash altogether. 

Responsive Design 

Some designers still use a separate m. domain to direct mobile visitors to a just-for-mobile site, but in 2015 this is looking increasingly old-fashioned. There are still benefits, as this approach can allow you to create a desktop website that can incorporate elements that simply wouldn’t work on mobile. 

For most businesses, however, responsive design offers a simpler solution. 

Responsive websites automatically resize and adjust their display parameters so that they display correctly on a range of different devices. This can allow you to maintain a single domain for desktop and mobile, but stringent testing is important. It also means your design must be suitable for both desktop and mobile visitors in terms of navigation and content. 

Abercrombie & Fitch is using this technique to target Asian customers, so it will be interesting to see how successful this approach becomes. 


The way people navigate around a site they are visiting on mobile can differ considerably from the way they navigate around the same site on desktop. 

The main input device in mobile is usually a finger, which is much less precise than a mouse cursor. Make navigation buttons clear and large enough to use. Avoid clustering small hot spots together as it can be easy to tap the wrong one and also steer clear of text links that can be even more difficult to use on a smaller screen. 

You might also consider putting more information on a single page. Mobile users often don’t like to scroll too far, but this can still be preferable than having to click through to different pages. If you build in an infinite scroll feature, which auto-loads more results or information as the viewer approaches the bottom of the page, it can be useful to include a static "Return to top" button. 

Site Search 

One handy way for people to navigate your site is the inclusion of a "Site search" box. This can be particularly useful if, for example, you have a range of products that people might want to browse. 

An auto-complete or suggestion feature can help cut down the amount of text that users actually have to type into the box – and getting the right translation partner to help with this can make all the difference. 

Again, incorporate a "Return" or "Back" button that allows users to easily return to the landing page or to previous results. When you consider the rapid growth of mobile Internet use, it’s clearly important to give your users the best experience you can when they visit your site. 

Optimizing for mobile can help you tap into the mobile revolution and increase your competitive edge. 


Monday, March 30, 2015

Are Coupons Being Cut Out of the Online Grocery Business

Consumer packages goods (CPG)) manufacturers currently distribute more than $300 billion in paper coupons with more than $3 billion of those coupons being redeemed in physical stores. Hardly any of these coupons are redeemed online, even though consumer shopping behavior continues to shift to digital channels. This is especially true for online and mobile grocery commerce. While these platforms are gaining in popularity among consumers looking for convenience and assortment, coupon and promotion efforts have been slow to adapt to this space. As a result, many retailers and manufacturers are overlooking an opportunity to market to this growing category.

The two key limitations facing food retailers and manufacturers when it comes to promotions and coupons for online ordering are technology and process. Currently, the coupons offered by online grocers are limited to two primary formats (if coupons are accepted at all):

  • Retailer-issued coupons, such as a Fresh Direct coupon, “clipped” for a specific deal
  • Paper-based manufacturer coupons exchanged manually with the driver at the point of delivery.

As you can imagine, both formats pose a number of challenges and inefficiencies. To successfully transition coupon and promotions efforts to the online space, food retailers and manufacturers will have to embrace new ways of issuing and redeeming manufacturer’s coupons online.

For example, a manufacturer could issue a traditional coupon and convert it using software into one million unique single-use coupon codes. These codes could be distributed by marketers via email or other digital communication channels and consumers could redeem the unique code at any participating online grocery retailer. On the back end, the retailer would receive reimbursement from the manufacturer for the coupon value, and the manufacturer would receive confirmation that the unique redemption took place.

For consumers, this familiar coupon experience would be similar to coupon codes offered by other online retailers. For food retailers and manufacturers, the use of online coupon codes could reduce the timeframe for the coupon and promotions clearing process, allow for increased consumer targeting and provide additional marketing data on the efficacy of these programs.

As online and mobile grocery commerce continues to grow, retailers and CPG manufacturers will have trouble meeting consumer expectations unless they are willing to embrace new technologies and processes for promotions and coupons. These new technologies will not only allow them to meet their customer’s needs in these growing formats, but could have implications for improved targeting and results reporting as well.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What the Apple Watch Really Means for Brand Advertisers

The Apple Watch is opening up a whole new world for marketers - but what can brands realistically do on the device?
On April 24, nine countries will have access to the Apple Watch for the first time.
According to Apple's chief executive (CEO) Tim Cook, the product "begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology and we think our customers are going to love it." Elsewhere online, the Apple Watch is being called "the perfect gizmo for the narcissistic." Others still have questioned the need for it, saying"because it's 'cool' or super-functional doesn’t mean it’s practical."
Regardless of how you feel about the concept, it's sure to bring some big changes to the mobile world. But what does the Apple Watch mean for brands? Many are already working on new smartwatch apps, including Starwood Hotels, Shazam, and Air New Zealand. On the advertising front, Midwestern grocery chain Marsh Supermarkets has announced that in partnership with mobile retail marketing platform inMarket it will extend its current iBeacon program to the Apple Watch this year. "It's an amazing time for consumers and commerce as digital and physical experiences converge," Todd Dipaola, CEO of inMarket, said.
Mobile ad exchange TapSense, meanwhile, is testing a programmatic advertising platform for Apple Watch ads. According to the company, the ads will combine interactive formats with hyper-local targeting. TapSense believes the watch will be useful for delivering retail store coupons, as well as an intimate user experience.
In Chicago, Matt Murphy, president and CEO of interactive marketing firm Fusion92, sees a third marketing application for the Apple Watch: cross-platform integration. "Because this is such a niche product and specific to Apple, there'll be a lot of exploration early on as brands investigate what they're allowed to do and how consumers are engaging with the device," Murphy says. One possibility is an ad that "ping pongs" between the Apple Watch and iPhone. "Maybe you accept an ad and it pushes to your phone for a fuller experience, or a third-party interaction," he says. "Depending on the capabilities, there could be rich media built into that."
The ad world's adoption of the device could progress quickly. It wasn't so long ago that marketers went from desktop advertising to mobile. While that shift necessitated an entirely new approach to creative, targeting strategies, and messaging, the Apple Watch's smaller screen won't seem quite so daunting.
But while interactivity is an ongoing priority for digital marketers, there's a chance that the screen will simply be perceived as too small to supply any kind of rich experience. If users are reluctant to engage and it isn't feasible to consume ad content on the watch, Apple Watch ads will bear little resemblance to the mobile formats we use now. Murphy suggests we might even see a regression back to a click-based ad model that triggers an email message consumers can check at a later time.
When it comes to predicting the early adopters, Murphy – whose agency has produced interactive mobile and digital experiences for such companies as AT&T and Sony – points to the health care and fitness industries. The fact that the watch touches the user's skin, coupled with the potential to incorporate sensors that could record blood pressure, body temperature, and other measurements of health, is in line with the current medical community trend toward leveraging wearable devices.
Fusion92 intends to pursue Apple Watch advertising, and you can be sure that it isn't alone. Brands would be wise to hang back some, however, both to be certain that the device aligns with their marketing objectives, and to follow Apple's lead. "Brands will always seek new opportunities, but they're still beholden to whatever Apple allows," Murphy says. "Apple does control the ecosystem."