Article | May 12, 2021
It has been over a year since retailers were forced to temporarily shut their doors or put in place restrictions to limit the in-store experience. Now, as we return to some semblance of normality, it’s essential that trust and brand value are retained for those operating a digital-only presence.
In this article, Nate Burke, CEO at Diginius, discusses how brands have effectively kept customers engaged, consequently building trust and brand value in the process, and what techniques to use while navigating the next steps of the pandemic.
As I write this, physical retail and outdoor hospitality are feeling a little more rejuvenated after welcoming customers back. My inbox and notification centre are full of alerts from brands offering high street discounts and incentives for scanning an app in-store. This is a prime example of how fast and timely brands need to be in order to capture their customers’ attention when trends and circumstances change.
It’s also a great example of how essential communication and marketing techniques are in building trust and creating brand value. While I might not be one to rush back to high street stores so soon, I do feel reassured and excited by these messages. And nothing could be more important at a time like this.
It’s a reminder that these shops are still there and are prepared to welcome customers back in. After all, if they’ve had time to plan and create a whole marketing campaign around the event, I can only hope their efforts towards a safe reopening have been given just as much thought and attention.
Digital tactics like those mentioned above have only ramped up during the course of the pandemic, where remote communication and at-distance offerings have been the only touch points between brands and consumers. And of course, this hasn’t been without challenge.
It’s human nature for us to trust and find greater value in something we can see for ourselves in person. Traditionally, brands have been able to create this through in-store experiences where customers know they can see products and services in action and are able to interact with staff and experts should there be any concerns. While digital channels do offer their own set of benefits, meeting these innate human needs is not one of them.
So, in a bid to retain consumer trust amid the uncertainty of forced closures, measures and constantly changing restrictions, we’ve seen a number of effective strategies from brands. Regular push notifications and email communications just scratch the surface. These tactics are a great way to generate instant response, whether it’s a brand reminder, an update on important changes or simply an alert of a new deal in an attempt to drive website traffic.
By now, it’s a known fact that personalised messages generate better results. And these forms of digital communication can certainly be personalised with little effort on the brand’s part. Whether it's a mass email with a tailored first name field, or an app alert that is sent as a restriction lifts - both feel personal and as though they have been sent by a real individual who knows who you are and understands the context of a situation.
But today’s customers need and expect more. These tactics have been used for years, and the sensitivity of the pandemic has called for a more human approach in terms of marketing and customer service. And that’s exactly what many successful brands have been doing.
While driving traffic to a website is important, it’s the service on offer once a customer lands on a page that makes the difference when it comes to building trust and brand value, and ultimately, converting. It’s all about translating the human in-store experience online.
For example, we’ve seen greater focus and uptake in live chat features on websites, with this now being an expected function for over half of consumers. Through such features, customers expect to be able to talk to a real person on the side of the screen who is able to understand their queries and responsively provide a solution.
Companies such as Currys PC World have taken this one step further, and now offer a ‘Shop Live’ feature that enables customers to video call a real sales representative who can help them with their purchase. In this way, brands are able to bridge the gap between themselves and their consumers, even in a time of social distancing. And as a result, are able to retain trust, while also adding value to their brand through the out of the box and supportive offering.
Other tactics have included offering incentives that encourage repeat purchases. For example, many online retailers offer unlimited next day delivery subscription services, whereby a one off higher yearly fee provides access to a year's worth of free delivery. With the delay between placing an order and it then arriving, as well as delivery fees being some of the biggest deterring factors from online purchases, the incentive has been incredibly effective in increasing loyalty. That feeling of the brand also offering you a better deal is also a great way to build trust, so even though a brand might be increasing the cost it incurs for delivery, the value of a repeating customer and their advocacy hold much more weight.
In this sense, it’s all about how a brand and its offerings are perceived by customers. And another sure fire way of improving brand perceptions is through PPC tactics. Anyone operating in ecommerce knows how competitive the market is. Ensuring your brand is seen above competitors is key in driving awareness and trust, as ultimately, a higher ranking and greater visibility reflect positively on a brand’s trustworthiness.
Clearly, there are a number of ways in which businesses can adapt and improve their offerings in order to encourage trust and add value. Of course, implementing all of these changes will be wasteful for budgets and not necessarily effective for every brand. Therefore, it’s important that you understand your market and customers, which can prove a challenge as things continue to constantly change as they have been.
But a solution may not be too hard to find. Insight software has advanced just as fast as these markets and customer behaviours. Therefore, with the right tools on your side, you can monitor shifts in the market in real time and adjust your offerings in response.
For example, if data shows you receive more website traffic at certain times, it may be an option to increase the number of customer service staff operating the live chat function during those periods in order to minimise waiting times and improve customer experience.
These tools can also help you decide which channels to focus PPC efforts on depending on those your customers visit most often. Using this data, you can then allocate budget accordingly, ensuring wasted spend is minimised while results are maximised. For example, during the pandemic, the figures were showing a greater uptake in use of marketplaces such as Amazon, as well as social commerce channels, including Instagram. If businesses understood this in real time, aided by collaborative commerce software such as VTEX, they may have been able to optimise their performance by increasing their PPC activity and consequently, visibility and status on such platforms.
Ultimately, commerce is facing a period of significant uncertainty that is having an effect on both customers and businesses alike. Regardless of whether stores are open or closed, customer behaviours and needs are constantly changing to keep up. And brands need to understand that how they communicate their messages and offerings is vital in retaining trust and brand value.
It’s evident that a humanistic approach is prevailing, as that is one thing that will never change. But as digital channels take centre stage, it all comes down to how a brand is able to translate its personable approach online. While there are a number of innovative methods brands are using to appear more human on online channels, using the tools and data available is key to ensuring activities help rather than hinder a business.
And in this way, not only will brands be able to retain trust and brand value, but they will be building on it too.
Article | May 12, 2021
On May 28 2020, Google announced that it would be introducing a new ranking metric that considered real-world user experience. This new ‘page experience’ ranking metric includes existing ranking signals such as mobile-friendliness and HTTPS, but also includes the Core Web Vitals for the first time.The new ranking metric will launch in 2021 and Google has said that they will give webmasters at least six months notice before introducing it to its algorithm. It will join the hundreds of other ranking signals that the search engine giant has added over the years, but we do not yet know the weight that it will hold compared to other signals.
Article | May 12, 2021
In advance of the already highly controversial interview between Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex surprised us all with an interview on The Late Late Show with James Corden just over a week ago now.
In his first interview since stepping back from his duties within the Royal Family, the Prince took part in a seemingly relaxed, natural, and spontaneous interview with TV host and friend, James Corden.
And whilst it appeared to be off-the-cuff and completely un-staged, it would have in fact, been quite the opposite.
This interview highlighted the true power of sensationalism within communications, provoking public interest, telling Harry’s side of the story, and defining his position as a brand.
Matthew Hayes, Managing Director of Midlands-based brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains why he thinks the interview proves that Harry, the Duke of Sussex understands his brand power, allowing him to reposition himself within the industry.
“The interview was completely unexpected and caught everybody off guard. We were all so eagerly anticipating his and Meghan’s upcoming interview with Oprah that we hadn’t even considered he would perhaps look at other options,” he said.
The Late Late Show almost goes against his previous branding as a member of the Royal Family.
Matthew said, “It was great to see Harry doing Harry.
“Throughout the entire interview, Harry displayed his true personality and owned it. And in terms of branding and positioning, he knocked it out of the park.
“I believe that Harry achieved what he had set out to do, which was to change the narrative by telling his side of the story and ultimately change the public’s opinion of him.”
And in doing so, the interview amassed more than 15 million views on YouTube in under a week, proving that anticipation doesn’t always equate to more impact.
More than just a Prince
Providing a glimpse into family Zoom calls with his grandparents, Harry used this interview as a way to demonstrate he is more than just a Prince, but a father, husband, son, and grandson, too.
"Harry managed to find his own brand identity whilst remaining all of those things, as well as continuing to work in public service. He owned and delivered it in a way that I can only describe as genius.”
By changing the narrative and telling his story, Harry proved that he is much more than everybody has perceived him as.
The Duke of Sussex isn’t the only person within this industry to change and reposition his brand.
Snoop Dogg is renowned for having more than one persona and this has become a part of his brand identity. From gangster to rapper, actor and more recently, the star of Just Eat’s latest marketing campaign, Snoop is recognised for exactly that – proving the power of branding.
Clever and controversial marketing
After watching the Prince’s interview with James Corden ahead of his sit-down chat with Oprah Winfrey, many of us have been left wondering which really came first – or was this a part of the plan all along?
Matthew explains why he thinks it was a clever marketing ploy:
“I believe that this interview came first as a deliberate way for Harry to define his brand and lay down the law prior to appearing on Oprah.
“Many of us, myself included, assumed that Oprah would be his first (and possibly last) exclusive interview, but what this has done is create a buzz and even more anticipation ahead of its airing.
“Before watching Harry with James, I may not have even considered sitting down to watch his appearance on Oprah, and I expect this to be the case for many others, too.”
It was recently announced that ITV have bought the rights to Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah for £1M, with it set to air at 9pm on March 8.
While some may call this controversial, and it may be, Matthew believes it to be clever and tactful marketing.
He said, “Harry’s appearance on The Late Late Show will no doubt boost viewing figures for his interview with Oprah, making it somewhat of a teaser.
“Mystery and anticipation are remarkable ways to tell a story, which is exactly what both Harry and Meghan have done here.”
Digital storytelling expert and founder of Play Human, Matthew Scott also explains the benefits of controversial marketing and why it is so impactful.
He explains, “Simply, controversy appeals to consumers and it grabs their attention. But more importantly, it raises a point and sparks debate, which is key when it comes to storytelling, particularly within branding.
“Telling a story with an edge of controversy or challenge is a good thing and is what leads to change.”
The future of sensationalism
Matthew Hayes predicts that following this seemingly controversial yet clever act of sensationalism and storytelling, many brands will begin to follow suit.
“Already, Prince Harry has gained such tremendous traction from one short interview, so just imagine the publicity after Monday evenings show.
“Brands will see the benefits of working in this manner, albeit slightly controversially, but that it really does work and will garner seriously impressive results.
“I am one of those people who perhaps frowned upon Harry’s decision to officially leave the Royal Family.
However, after watching his interview with James Corden, my perception of the whole matter has completely changed, which I guess was the aim of the game, right? Well, it worked – for me, anyway.”
Article | May 12, 2021
Content experience refers to the overall experience associated with assessment, engagement, consumption and responding towards a stream of various brand contents across different channels, platforms, and devices during the complete journey from prospects to customers. When content experience is done successfully, it delivers the highest possible extent of personalization, relevance, consistency, timeliness, and convenience. This is because; content experience focuses on the holistic approach.