Tag Archives: digital marketing

Content Marketing – Stories that Add Value to Your Target Audience

Content marketing is the only marketing left. Teaching your customers and giving your customers the resources to believe you are new marketing, said Seth Godin, renowned marketing author. Seth was right in 1999, and he is still spot on.

The internet provides numerous opportunities for retailers to share information about their brand and products. And this is what customers want. According to the Content Marketing Institute 1, 70% of people would rather learn about a company via an article than an ad.

In fact, “Nine out of ten organizations are now marketing with content – that is, going beyond the traditional sales pitches and instead enhancing brands by publishing (or passing along) relevant information, ideas, and entertainment that customers will value” confirmed Alexander Jutkowitz 2 back in 2014.

What is Content?

Before discussing the “content marketing’ construct, we must first understand what ‘content’ is. Content is everything that a web user reads, hears or experience when he/she visits and interacts with a digital communication.

Dr Dave Chaffey 3 refers to content as the combination of static content forming web pages, but also dynamic rich-media content which encourages interaction such as videos, podcasts, user-generated content and interactive product selectors. But what is the best content for retailers to use?

James Yankey identified the following as best content for retailers to use:

  • Reviews – customer reviews ensure that shoppers feel confident in their purchases. It also let retailers know where they can improve or respond to negativity.
  • Personalized recommendations – knowing your shoppers’ purchase history and what they’re currently in the market for is the best way to offer personalized recommendations.
  • How-to articles and videos – retailers can capture more traffic by providing in-depth how-to’s on their website to help customers get the most out of a new purchase.
  • User generated content – is the fastest growing content type. It helps you create emotional connections with your shoppers and shows that you value your customers’ experience with your products.
  • In-store remarketing – Display ads: similar to ads used by digital marketers, however they’re designed for customers who have browsed in-store rather than browsed online. Email campaigns: to remind shoppers of the products they saw and loved during and instore visit.
  • Loyalty offers – loyalty programs are the second most prominent driver of repeat business (AccessDevelopment.com). Things like offering 10% off a next purchase or creating a loyalty points system helps to establish loyal customers.

All content needs to be marketed…

Content Marketing

What is content marketing? The concept of content marketing can be defined as a marketing approach, which aims to find products produced according to customers’ needs and create customer satisfaction and fulfilment in this way 4.  Conveniently, we live and work  in the digital age…

Digital media allow retailers to target prospects with a defined need. With content marketing, which is proactive and self-selecting, little advertising is wasted 3. Jayson DeMers, contributing in Forbes mentioned three key advantages of content marketing:

Key advantages of content marketing:

  1. Customer relationships. Retailers have the opportunity to build and solidify a customer relationship. The customers, on the other hand, experience a sense of empowerment when digesting the content of retailers. They feel the retailer knows what they want and speaks directly to them. In return, retailers gain satisfied, loyal customers with higher retention rates.
  2. Cost efficiency. It is far less costly to communicate with your customers via content marketing. Creating a valuable blog post might only take a few hours of your time, and it will continue to create value for your brand indefinitely. A paid ad campaign, on the other hand, can be expensive, and its long-term value is comparatively fleeting.
  3. Long-term returns. Content marketing has a higher potential for long-term returns as well. Because paid ads disappear the moment you stop paying for them, there’s a finite and linear value to your investment. Content, on the other hand, offers compounding returns over time.

However, for retailers to enjoy the benefits of content marketing, they should do it the right way.

How to make content marketing work

Important for retailers is that the content they and their users create is managed properly. Therefore a strategic approach is needed…

When you develop a content strategy, there are some key things to consider according to Justin McGill:

  • Who you’re creating it for
  • The problem it’s going to solve for that audience
  • How it will be unique
  • The formats you’ll focus on
  • The channels where it will be published
  • How you will schedule and manage creation and publication

Ok, you’ve tried your best, but are getting nowhere with content marketing. What on earth could be the problem?

Neil Patel, a lifelong evangelist of Kissmetrics proposed the following 10 reasons way your content marketing effort may have failed:

  1. You haven’t refined your strategy. Like any other form of marketing, you need a strategy if you expect to be successful.
  2. You don’t spend much on content marketing. Retailers who spend a lot on marketing are able to grow their markets faster than companies who don’t spend as much.
  3. You aren’t promoting your content. The quickest way to kill your content marketing is to do nothing after you create your content.
  4. Your content sucks. Sometimes, the content just plain sucks.
  5. You’re in a tough niche. The content marketers who are struggling the most are those that are in really hard industries.
  6. You’re up against a goliath of a competitor. There are times when you’re simply facing a dominating competitive landscape.
  7. You haven’t waited long enough. Content marketing takes time. Don’t expect results in a matter of a few weeks or even a few months.
  8. You have horrible SEO. If you’re doing content marketing, but have poor SEO, you might as well not even be creating content. No one is going to find it.
  9. Your expectations are too high. Take a step back and get realistic about content marketing. You might not double your traffic or triple your revenue.
  10. You’re not having any fun with it. Have some fun with content marketing. It’s not supposed to be a painful, awful and dark journey through despondency.

If you’re still battling with content marketing in spite of trying everything, best is to consult a digital marketing expert. Now let’s conclude…

Concluding

Everyone has a story to tell, so they say. Your story, however, may be a good one – a story that your customers value and enjoy. With billions of stories on the web you should take care that it’s your story that is read, hear or seen. Hence the necessity of content marketing.

Read also: Content Marketing Tips for Retailers

Notes

1 Walters, T. and Rose, R. 2015. Is native advertising the new black? Content Marketing Institute, Northeast Ohio Media Group.

2 Jutkowitz, A. 2014. The Content Marketing Revolution, Harvard Business Review.

3 Chaffey, D. 2015. Digital business and E-commerce management, Pearson Education Limited.

4 Köse, U. and Sert, S. 2016. Intelligent Content Marketing with Artificial Intelligence, In International Conference of Scientific Cooperation for Future.

Image:

Photo Credit: <a href=https://howtostartablogonline.net/>via Richard Goodwin</a>
Video

Big Data for Small Retailers – Is it Doable?

Do Big Data (BD) for small retailers offer an opportunity to compete with the big retailers or is it too much trouble? One of the fall outs of the digitization of business is the massive amount of data that are everywhere. Every time a customer makes a purchase online or registers online, data is generated. The data can potentially tell you almost everything about consumers. Retailers that sort, analyse and interpret BD can add value for customers and so increase their shopping experience.

Surely retailers should take advantage of BD since it contains captured detailed information that probably was overlooked in the past. However, to get the most out of BD, retailers need to be innovative. The promise of new revenues, customers, and new businesses with BD will require development and investment in teams and technology 1. But first let’s have a look at what BD is all about…

What is big data?

Big data is a term that primarily describes data sets that are so large, unstructured, and complex that it requires advanced and unique technologies to store, manage, analyse, and visualize 2. Therefore, big data represents the data sets that cannot be perceived, acquired, managed, and processed by traditional IT and software/hardware tools within a tolerable time 3. Compared with traditional data sets (small data), big data typically includes masses of unstructured data that need more real-time analysis, according to Chen, Mao, and Liu, (2014).

Where can retailers find Big Data? Rajdeep Nair responds as follows on Quora: “Data is everywhere… it can be purchase data or images uploaded by you on the social media site or data sent by mission sent to Mars by NASA. Everything that is there on the internet and company or an organisation’s confidential data stored on the server. Mostly  data is stored on the server, the technology of which is improving and evolving rapidly.”

However, a good place for small retailers to find “Big Data” is on their own systems. Have you ever analysed your own data sets before?

What retailers can do with Big Data

According to Russell Walker 1, firms that are first movers in leveraging BD have great advantages because they develop innovative insights about customers and markets. These insights can transform services, and even business models. Bernard Marr, contributing to Forbes declared Big Data as “A game changer in the retail sector”.

Bernard notes that Big Data analytics is now being applied at every stage of the retail process. Says Bernard: “BD is used to understand what the popular products will be by predicting trends, forecasting where the demand will be for those products, and optimizing pricing for a competitive edge.”  Moreover helps BD retailers to identify the customers that are likely to be interested in their products and works out the best way to approach them. It also to help them making the sale and working out what next to sell them.

Alex Woodie writing a piece in Datanami.com suggests there are 9 ways retailers are using big data technology to create an advantage in the retail sector.

The advantages of Big Data to retailers

  1. Recommendation Engines – by training machine learning models on historical data, the savvy retailer can generate accurate recommendations before the customer leaves the Web page.
  2. Customer 360 – customers expect companies to anticipate their needs, to have the products they want on-hand. Also to communicate with them in real time (via social media), and to adapt to their needs as they change. In the cutthroat world of retail, developing a customer 360 system using Big Data may be a matter of survival.
  3. Market Basket Analysis – is a standard technique used by merchandisers to figure out which groups, or baskets, or products customers are more likely to purchase together. It’s a well-understood business processes, but now it’s being automated with the help of BD.
  4. Path to Purchase – analyzing how a customer came to make a purchase, or the path to purchase, is another way big data technology is making a mark in retail.
  5. Social Listening for Trend Forecasting – platforms like Hadoop were designed to facilitate the handling and analysis of large amounts of unstructured data, such as Facebook posts.
  6. Price Optimization – setting the right price requires knowing what your competitors are charging. Data can be collected electronically using daemons that crawl competitors’ website to get detailed info about product pricing.
  7. Workforce and Energy Optimization – big data technology can deliver benefits on the marketing and merchandising side. As a result it can help big retailers optimize their spending on human capital.
  8. Inventory Optimization – by analysing BD, retailers can plan their seasonality in the shipping algorithms better.
  9. Fraud Detection – retail fraud is a huge problem, accounting for hundreds of billions of lost dollars every year. Retailers have tried every trick in the book to stop fraud, and now they’re turning to big data technology to give them an edge.

Concluding

The narrative about Big Data is more with ‘Big Retailers’ at this moment. However, with smaller retailers adding the online channel to their business, there are ample opportunities for them to use their own data to great effect. Everything else will cost retailers a lot of money. Maybe to start with small data is better for smaller retailers.

Have a look at this video by Tera data corporation more more on Big Data for retailers:

Notes

1 Walker, R., 2015. From big data to big profits: Success with data and analytics, Oxford University Press.

2 Xu, Z., Frankwick, G.L. and Ramirez, E. 2016. Effects of big data analytics and traditional marketing analytics on new product success: A knowledge fusion perspective. Journal of Business Research69(5):1562-1566.

3 Chen, M., Mao, S. and Liu, Y. 2014. Big data: A survey, Mobile Networks and Applications, 19(2):171-209.

Image and video

Pixabay

Tera Data Corporation

Personalization of Marketing Communication – not just for your Customer’s sake

Personalization of marketing communication is not just a good practice for retailers, but also a way to help their businesses survive. The advent of the internet has rendered retailers the opportunity to offer their customers products specifically customized for them. This is in direct contrast with mass marketing where the objective is to broadcast product offerings to reach the largest number of people possible.

Personalization of marketing communications is to treat each person as a unique individual with distinctive needs and to provide them with customized solutions 1. To be able to personalize marketing communications, retailers need to learn about the customer’s individual needs and preferences in terms of the types of content that the customer is willing to receive and other person-specific characteristics.

The strategic use of data collected during the online buying process and social media sites may be a good starting point for retailers to know their customers better.

Data – the foundation for the personalization of marketing communication

The digitalization of the entire advertising industry is generating ever increasing amounts of data that must be collected, analysed and interpreted 2.  Lying hidden in all this data is information, potentially useful information that is rarely made explicit or taken advantage of. We must just find the data.

The data we need is right before our eyes. Says Woopra: “Social media interactions, email marketing, landing pages, surveys, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and re-targeted ads are all customer touch points that can tell you about your customer’s needs and interests”.

Once the data are sorted and tabled, retailers can segment and target their customers and also position their products accordingly. However, here the process is done for each customer specifically according the individual’s unique needs, desires and behaviors (customization). So, once customization has been achieved, it makes personalization of marketing communication possible.

Personalized marketing communications used by online retailers

Online shopping has become an important channel for retailers. Unfortunately, it does not afford facile development of an interpersonal relationship or facilitate easy interactions between buyers and sellers 3.  Even worse, many retailers use the online channel to send generic marketing messages via email or text, to the annoyance of their customers. This, however, is not personalized marketing communication.

Retailers need to collect and analyse data about the buying behaviour of individual customers. The profile of the customer will provide guidelines for the retailer how to personalize his/her marketing communication message. Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group suggests the following ways brands can use data to build personalized marketing tactics:

  • Capture complete data – are you collecting every piece of data that you possibly can? Brands today have more consumer information at their fingertips than ever before, and they can use that data to get to know their customers in depth.
  • Social data – social cues and signals are excellent ways to figure out more about customers than traditional sources like email, demographics, or purchase records.
  • Segmentation – you need to segment your audience into smaller groups for more accurate targeting.

What does a personalized marketing message looks like?

You’ve done all the hard work by sourcing and sorting your customer data. Now it is time to create a personalized marketing message for your customer. Below is an image from GIGYA, a customer identity management agency. The ad shows beauty products that are specifically recommended for a customer with a unique skin type and facial features.

Note that the narrative is in the second person – thus the ad is addressing the individual personally.

The advantages of personalized marketing communications

Retailers that personalize their marketing communication may enjoy the following advantages says Infor Marketing Management:

  1. Improved Return on Investment (ROI) – one study found that personalized website experiences resulted in an average 19% increase in sales. For email, personalization is even more powerful, generating transaction rates and revenue six times higher per email than non-personalized emails.
  2. Outflanking the competition – with personalization, retailers can increase the impact of each interaction to get consumers’ attention and time online – at the cost of the competitors.
  3. Customers expect it – most consumers said it’s important to receive relevant offers when shopping online. And, almost a third wants more personalization during their online shopping experiences, reports Infor Marketing Management.

Concluding

“Personalization is retail’s future; especially as more advanced technologies allow marketers to handle personalization more effectively”, suggests Infor Marketing Management. However, retailers have to invest in the right technology, including marketing automation, CRM, social media management and data analytics tools, as well as more advanced e-commerce platforms.

Bringing the person back into the marketing message may help soften the total onslaught of marketing atomization by means of the internet of things, big data and bots.

Have a peek at this short video from Evergage re personalized marketing communication.

Notes

1 Järvinen, J. and Karjaluoto, H. 2015. The use of Web analytics for digital marketing performance measurement, Industrial Marketing Management, 50:117-127.

2 Grether, M. 2016. Using Big Data for Online Advertising Without Wastage: Wishful Dream, Nightmare or Reality? GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 8(2):38-43.

3 Lee, Y.J., and Dubinsky, A.J. 2017. Consumers’ desire to interact with a salesperson during e-shopping: development of a scale, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 45(1):20-39.

Read also:

  1.  Chatbots in Retailing – a Fact or a Fad?
  2.  Retail and the Internet of Things

Images and video

  1. Pixabay
  2. GIGYA,
  3. Evergage

Chatbots in Retailing – a Fact or a Fad?

Retailers are frequently yelled at by frustrated customers, or, if things go well, they are commended. That’s part of the emotional exchange that comes with a retailer’s job description. However, chatbots may change all of that.

A chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. In other words, sales assistants in a number of retail businesses are now robots. To this end, bots can help retailers in many other ways.

“Chabots are seen as easy and fun ways to help customers achieve an outcome. You’ll encounter them on web sites, social media and even on your smartphone. Say hello to Siri, Allo and Alexa, to name a few”, writes Christine Crandell recently in Forbes.

Siri, Allo and Alexa are computer characters which, through natural language-style dialogs with humans, perform various tasks, such as answering questions, helping them to navigate websites. “They can either look like a human being, or a digital avatar, an animal, alien or may have an image that does not look like a living creature at all” according to ChatBots.org

Apart from retailers not having to face angry customers anymore, the bots allow Bricks and Clicks retailers to catch up on lost sleep. A chatbot is a handy aid for retailers with online customers when their bed time arrives.  “We’d all like to be all things to all customers, but even the most dogged marketer has to sleep sometime”, according to TargetMarketing magazine. The fiction of chatbots has now became a reality as many retailers has bought into the technology.

How chatbots can be used by retailers

Chatbots can be used in many ways by retailers. Nicki Baird (Forbes) suggests that chatbots can do everything – from interacting with customers about new products, to helping them to figure out the trading hours of your shop. Furthermore, leverage chatbots the ubiquity of messaging apps and allows retailers to conduct one-to-one conversations with customers in real-time. Besides, retailers have the opportunity to make money with chatbots.

Ross Simmonds (Crate, Hustle and Grind), identified seven ways retailers can make money with bots:

  1. Bots as a Services (BaaS) – help people and teams to be more productive. They can manage tasks or tackle communications challenges – by replicating business models already in use;
  2. Bots plus sponsored and native content – native or sponsored content is a model in which brands pay to have their content distributed by media companies directly into their channels;
  3. Bot leveraged affiliate marketing – for example: retailers can develop a bot that offers tips and tricks on how to stay healthy and use affiliate links to send people to fitness products that have affiliate links associated with them;
  4. Bots for research – there are bots that you can pay to do the research for you.
  5. Bots for lead generation – may act as a lead generator with an initial focus on content. Chatbots designed to deliver insights and information to users who are looking for advice or information can be lined up with products that the retailer offers;
  6. Pure retail sales bots – the user will make the purchase directly through a chat with the bot and it will act similar to a transaction from a typical website;
  7. Cost per conversation/task – as bots become more sophisticated, people may be willing to pay to have conversations with the bots that can help them with various challenges in life.

“Thanks to big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics, as well as the proliferation of messaging apps, retailers finally have the tools (including chatbots) to get the right messages to their customers”, suggests Craig Alberino in TotalRetail. However, the chatbot hype is not favored by everyone…

Consumers that use  chatbots can complete a purchase in a minute or two. Have a look at the video from Kore:

The future use of chatbots

Although the use of chatbots is getting much attention nowadays, not everyone is excited about it. Jon Evens writing last year in The Walrus reminded us of the “Eliza effect: “Humans unconsciously assume that software which communicates conversationally has much more intelligence and sophistication than is actually present.

Inevitably, the software eventually fails to match that assumption, disappointing and frustrating the user who unconsciously expected more.” Consequently, your frustrated customers may want to communicate (again) in person with you. Because the computer does not understands… Above all, what is good and bad about chatbots? Quora.com responded as follows:

The Good Things about Chatbots The Bad Things about Chatbots
1.       Chatbots are a good alternative for mobile apps 1.       Chatbots have a high error rate
2.       With bots, nothing new needs to be learnt 2.       Chatbots don’t put people first
3.       Bots are capable of providing a great user experience 3.       Bots are limited in their capabilities
4.       Chatbots as the factotum for all business needs 4.       Chatbots aren’t as intelligent as humans

Concluding

In summary, are chatbots the “silver bullets” that retailers can use to compete in a digitized retail environment? Or will it be another fad with demanding customers not getting assisted properly? I suppose we have to wait and see. However, Leo Sun (fool.com) recently asked: “Were the social network’s chatbot ambitions ahead of their time?”

Importantly, this is after Facebook is reportedly scaling back its chatbot efforts on Messenger after the programs failed to fulfill 70% of users’ requests. Consequently those requests couldn’t be handled without human agents, and bots built by outside developers “had issues” because the “technology to understand human requests wasn’t developed enough.”

Finally, perhaps Dale 1, (2016) sobering comment can be noted by all: “If we want to have better conversations with machines, we stand to benefit from having better conversations among ourselves.”

Additional reading:

  1. Artificial Intelligence – Digital Outcomes or Digital Disruptions for Retailers?

Note:

1 Dale, R. 2016. The return of the chatbots. Natural Language Engineering, 22(5):811-817.

Image and video:

  1. Pixabay
  2. Kore