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This post originally appeared on MITX's blog. One of the most interesting seminars I was able to attend at FutureM was titled 'After Omni-Channel: Preparing for Digital Context'? presented by Stone Mantel's Martie Woods as well as Stacey Symonds, Senior Director of Consumer Insights at Orbitz. The content of the seminar focused on what many agencies claim to do already: owning today's consumer purchase journey and what that means for the future. Woods opened with a slide full of buzz words and asked who in the room has used these in their presentations lately. With the word 'omni-channel'? on the screen, majority of the room painfully raised their hands realizing omni-channel has quickly (and apparently) become a thing of yesterday. Woods and Symonds explained that today's consumer is evolving past the non-linear purchase journey that marketers have been trying to master. Now, they expect even more from brands. And it can be broken down into five insights: Consumers are expecting to reduce the gap between thinking and doing. With new technology and brands that have already accomplished immediacy, consumers look for the quickest, easiest solution and nothing less. Think about how you plan and then do these days. You want to travel? You go on hotwire and book a hotel. You didn't get to see your daughter before you left for your work trip? You Facetime her. You want a ride? Uber. So what does this mean for marketers? Before, brands strived to be relevant. Now, brands are proving how they can fulfill a need and reduce the gap between thinking and acting. Consumers surround themselves first, and then make all sorts of micro purchases. Symonds explained how she learned this with Orbitz customers. A family was traveling to a national landmark and needed to know directions to get there, as well as places to eat and things to do. But they didn't have any cell signal so they could not access this information and were suddenly frustrated with their trip. So marketers are realizing that it's no longer about getting into the consumer's consideration set. It's about getting into their queue. It's about anticipating the jobs they are going to need done. Orbitz knows now they need to deliver a product that will fulfill a traveler's needs before they realize the need. Consumers are seeking to maximize their attention. These days, consumers feel detached from the world by merely driving their car ' they walked out of their house where they were texting on their phone, catching up on Netflix on their TV, and on social media on their tablet. Suddenly, driving in the car becomes an inconvenience because the consumer is unplugged. We are at this point that we are used to multitasking and just constantly doing. Royal Caribbean, for example, found that consumers were booking a cruise, but then canceling when they found a cheaper cruise. The brand found that consumers are not on the hunt for a cheaper option, they just continue to browse and research cruises because they are used to the behavior so inherently continue the habit. Before, brands wanted to combat multitasking to get the consumer's attention. Now, we must embrace the 'while.'? Think about what they are doing while they are interacting with your brand/app/etc. When you design an app for example, it's not building something that will get their full attention, it's about knowing what else they will be doing when they use the app in that moment. The customer journey is no longer about a path. It's just a constant state of moving. So instead of trying to map out a complex journey, Woods explained that we can follow and reach the consumer by understanding their various behaviors. And we can do this by looking at 'modes.'? A mode is a manner or disposition of accomplishing a task. I.e. improving, competing, planning, playing. It is a general pattern for focusing and getting things done. They can be highly useful in predicting activity, design thinking, and driving cross technology innovation. Modes represent the first truly digital approach to profiling consumer behavior in a way that supports consumers, aligns with what they value and works across technologies. Before it was about knowing the customer journey. Now, we need to understand what the consumer is trying to accomplish under each specific mode. Consumer behavior demands more than omni offers. When thinking omnichannel, brands have the mentality 'customers can find me when they need me in whichever channel they choose.'? Essentially, marketers think they have solved the problem by just making the brand available on every available channel. However, consumers expect the appropriate channel based on their specific mode. So, the new mentality a brand should have is 'I support thinking and acting for my customer at the right time in the right way.'? Marketers must shift from thinking about omni-channel to digital context. Woods explained three pillars of digital context: Environments: Sensor driven physical environments that can respond to tools and modes Tools: Devices and apps, primarily mobile, that can access personal data and respond to environments Modes: Behavioral states that drive receptivity and determine what is valued A local example of this is the New England Patriots. The company saw low attendance at games, so they created Patriot Place ' a new environment that used the right tools and responded to the appropriate modes to answer the fans' need for a better experience. On a national scale, United Airlines integrated Uber into their app, knowing the consumers would be looking for car services after their flight. Overall, while a lot of the content could be considered subjective, the root of the seminar was how agencies are all trying to solve the same problem, and we're all going about it in the same way'?¦ but maybe that's our roadblock. Instead, if we take our focus away from how to define the consumer journey and zoom in on the consumer's specific behaviors around their purchases, we can define a new strategy to reach and influence a consumer, and maybe we won't all be trying to stake the same claim.
Originally posted on MITX's blog. Businesses first began integrating social media into their marketing strategies to elevate brand awareness and deepen interactions with their audiences. However, tools and data-driven analytics continue to evolve and the possibilities of social media as a marketing channel continue to change. Specifically, for service-based businesses, marketers have begun to see how social media can not only help drive traffic and improve customer service, but also analyze the social media space to optimize on what's working, and change what's not working. By and large, here are some key benefits of leveraging social in the service-based industry: The New Customer Service Large brands like American Express and Emirates have mastered the immediacy of social media customer service. Leveraging the ease of response on Twitter and the open forum format of Facebook, brands utilize the channel to provide assistance to consumers who would rather not sit on hold on a 1-800 help line. One angle some businesses are picking up on is proactive customer service. Using social listening tools, businesses can open their ears to find consumers that need their services'?¦ they just may not know it yet. For instance, a consumer tweets about the long wait at Applebee's and Chili's can pick up on it and respond with a coupon and a promise for a shorter wait time. A consumer can post an image on Instagram of their flat tire, and Firestone can surprise him with directions to the closest service center plus 20% off. Morton's Steakhouse took this idea to a new level when they personally delivered a steak to a consumer at the airport simply because he asked for one in a tweet. The power of social listening is the surprise & delight factor. Businesses can provide customized service before the consumer has even begun to think about any brand in particular. Staff Activation Many times a brand's social media channel feels disconnected from the brick & mortar stores. The personified brand that is pushing out promotions on Facebook doesn't seem to line up with the guy behind the counter who has no clue about a Facebook promotion. By simply implementation a training plan for employees, businesses can change this notion. Companies can train employees to know what social media promotions are occurring, and communicate to customers to tweet/post/gram/share to get rewards. Businesses can utilize their employees to communicate offline what's going on online to not only increase social media engagement, and more importantly increase repeat visitors to the store. Local, Local Analytics Service based businesses may have all the data available to them, but they may not be using the data to the maximum extent. With evolving platforms like Venue Labs, businesses can look so much further than their brand-wide social media share of voice and engagement levels. Now, data can be looked at down to the store level to understand social sentiment store by store. Corporate level execs can look at analytics to see that the Super Cuts in Brighton is getting 10X more complaints about cleanliness than any of the other locations nearby. And at the same time, the local manager of that Super Cuts can see that one particular hairdresser is getting great feedback on twitter and should be rewarded for it. With the power of localized data, businesses can empower their staff to improve their own social sentiment and control their own social media efforts on a daily basis. While social media used to be a tool that was handled at the corporate brand level, it has now become a gateway for local store managers to increase their store's performance. Main takeaway for service=based brands? The ROI is there for social media, but it takes a dedicated team and resource investment first. Once a strategy is in place that includes integrating employees and a smart local analytics system, brands will see the return through happy, loyal customers. Learn more about our social media marketing service.
This week, I had the privilege of attending the Ad Club's annual Edge Conference. No surprise they every speaker had interesting things to say, but the one that stood out to me was Ben Jones, a Creative Director at Google. Jones shared his latest thoughts on technology and the future of the ad world in a highly engaging way. Read a few lessons from his presentation below. How Do Brands Connect with Humans? Jones explained that we are all aware of all the cool technology there is out there, but brands shouldn't just use it to say they use it. If they don't want to waste their money, the context must speak to the consumer and connect with their emotions. 'This is a revolution of the small and personal'?¦there is hunger for experiences that join real and digital together.'? As we work with clients who ask the timely questions like 'why are we not on Pinterest,'? we should take a lesson from Jones. Before we just go ahead and get our clients on Pinterest, we should not just figure out the 'why'? but more importantly figure out why the consumer cares. Meat Pack Makes a Game out of Discounting The best (and coolest) example Jones shared was a sneaker company in Guatemala called Meat Pack. In order to get customers in the door, the brand created 'Hijack,'? an enhancement to their smart phone app that triggered on a discount promotion to appear on the phone screen as soon as a customer entered the mall. Starting at 99% off, customers were told to get to the Meat Pack store to redeem the discount. However, the discount would go down by one percentage point every single second ' encouraging customers to literally run as fast as they could to the store. Check out the video: 'Data is Waiting for Its Scorsese'? Jones explained that we have so much data at our fingertips, but it's about using the data to generate a meaningful human experience. 'Data is waiting for its Scorsese'? was his way of putting it. A fantastic presentation with real-world learnings and practical application. I am just hoping Kate Spade takes a lesson from that sneaker store. I will gladly sprint through the mall to claim my discount!