Digital marketing trends – What to look out for in 2015!December 9, 2014
Written by Bruno Berthezene, Country Manager at Solocal Group UK – Tuesady 16th December
From multiscreen to ubiquitous internet devices
The recent years have seen the rise of the multiscreen / multi-device trend: from desktop through laptop, console, mobile, tablet to phablet, each UK consumer uses an increasing number of devices sometimes simultaneously (second screen, third screen). Mobile and tablet have become the dominating source of traffic for many internet brands but the customer experience provided on these devices is still not always adapted to the form factor. Additionally, the fragmented usage of devices has been an issue for businesses to have a single view of the user and therefore makes it difficult to attribute conversion to a specific interaction. In this context:
- 2015 will be the year wherebrands move to provide the same experience on mobile devices that consumers receive on PCs and in store.
- In 2015, we will begin to see mobile payment take off as a result of m-payment service launches such as Apple Pay.
- 2015 will see progress on multi-device tracking through the development of emerging cross-device monitoring techniques, including ultrasonic contactless technology.
- There will be a booming wave of smart devices, such as wearables including connected glasses, smartwatches and Internet of Things enabling devices. Whether all of these emerging connected devices will prove to be successful in 2015 is not certain, but those that are will considerably enrich our lives and make the internet even more ubiquitous in our lives due to the relative simplicity of smart devices.
Content and social meets advertising
- Growth in display advertising will be mostly driven by the growth of mobile devices, especially tablets, and the explosion of video as an online advertising platform.
- Ads will be more relevant than ever given the targeting possibilities provided by data that allow advertisers to push messages only for what the consumer is most likely to be interested in. However, at the same time, advertising will face the emergence of ad blockers, browser extensions downloaded by users and disabling display ads. As a result, 2015 will be the year where even more relevancy should be look for, allowing advertisers and marketers to better use the untapped data to its full potential which will therefore make users happy that they are being reached with relevant content. After retargeting, the new wave of data use in display and search advertising will be pre-targeting, which can be defined as pushing ads with messages based on a customer higher propensity to purchase a product/service, this being based on behaviour data cross-analysis.
- While 2015 will see advertising attribution improving (see above), advertisers and publishers are both looking for a better evaluation of the engagement of users generated by display advertising. More relevant than the cost per click, more universal than the cost per action, time-based display offerings (by which the advertiser will only need to pay if the user has been exposed to the ad or has stayed on the landing website for a minimum amount of time) will see a great traction.
- While advertising is transitioning towards more relevancy, content appears as a natural alternative to reach users. Native advertising and branded content, which can be defined as inserting commercially oriented content in an editorial environment, are emerging and will develop in 2015. A risk, if it develops too much, might be a commercial content overload for the users, resulting in the same rejection from a part of the users as for internet advertising. However, Facebook has already shown that significant revenue can be driven out of paid content amplification in a social media environment, warranting visibility of sponsored content within organic content, and Twitter seems to be going the same way.
Taking the multichannel customer journey seriously
The purchase funnel is being increasingly looked after. In the past decades, with the rise of digital, it has become more much complex with the rise of multiple touch points, from ‘discovery’ through ‘research’ and ‘engagement’ to ‘conversion’ into purchase and post-purchase actions. This means that taking the customer right through from the start of the journey to the purchase is more challenging than ever and when that happens, there is another challenge for marketers and that is the attribution of the purchase between the different touch points.
- 2015 will see the development of marketing automation techniques that bring more sophistication in the optimisation of the conversion. The increasing capacity to exploit the potential of data is obviously at the core of this evolution towards real-time, behavioural, marketing.
- Most of the purchases do not happen online but in-store so the challenge of optimisation, attribution and marketing automation go beyond the online activity. There is still much work to do on web-to-store journey optimisation as many brands still don’t provide some of the basics that customers have begun to expect. The most striking gap relies on the disparity between customers’ expectations of simple store and product location tools and the poor level of store locators on many brand websites, not to mention the lack of mobile optimisation or the scarce existence of a product locator. 2015 will be the year when a large number of brands still lagging behind on mobile will catch up to finally propose a mobile customer experience that will boost conversion, online (m-commerce) and most importantly offline (mobile-to-store).
- Personalisation and optimisation of in-site search and navigation will also be growing trends, thanks to the increased use of consumer data.
- Once the customer has arrived in-store, technologies like beacons or ultrasonic tracking will help with attribution and marketing automation.
- Stores, whether independent or part of a chain, will provide an increasingly innovative in-store customer experience, with digital tools (virtual trial, advice, queueing…) being used more and more, a trend called phygital merging another trend called storytailing (examples of recent innovations in retail can be found on the Local Ideas blog).
The rise of the seamless transaction
- The sharing economy, illustrated by companies such as AirBnB and Uber, has paved the way for a world when buyers and sellers, professionals or individuals, can connect and transact in a seamless, real-time way. Car and house sharing, food, professional and local services, there are no limits to what this model can apply to. And this is only the beginning as an overwhelming number of new services are following the trend, positioning themselves across all possible niches you could imagine.
- Hotel and restaurant booking has been around for a long time but other service sectors are now realising the potential that they can also tap into through online appointment booking too. 2014 has been the year of acceleration for online appointment booking and 2015 should been the year where this service really explodes into the mainstream. This is true for a diverse range of sectors, such as health and beauty, car maintenance, banking and finance and insurance, but also for the fashion and luxury sectors due to the rise of personal shopping.
- Making the delivery quick and easy will be another growing focus of pure online plays or bricks and clicks. Click & collect has shown to be very popular and players such as Amazon, Google, eBay are already testing and beginning to implement quick delivery services.
Masterclassing – How do retailers ensure a seamless customer experience from online research to in-store purchase?October 27, 2014
There has been an undeniable change in people’s buying habits in recent years, with how consumers choose to buy and research products evolving as technology does.
The rise of mobile and online technology has had a huge impact on consumer behaviour, and the surge in the number of smartphone and tablet users has led to an ever- increasing number of consumers who research products online before buying in store.
It is therefore essential that retailers manage the customer journey seamlessly from attention to action, and engage with customers along their purchase journey in a personalised and contextual way.
By offering customers an easy to use, personalised service, the user experience is greatly improved, leading to increased loyalty and engagement. This interaction with consumers can be made possible through solutions such as personalised display advertising, cross-channel store locators, real-time online appointment booking and mobile-enabled websites.
Creating an optimised, seamless customer journey from initial search to in-store purchase is at the core of everything Solocal Group UK do. To enhance the customer experience, we encourage brands to build a real understanding of the customer, as it enables them to personalise their marketing campaigns.
Personalised marketing allows consumers to cut through the masses of information available online, and makes them feel like they are receiving a special service, tailored especially for their needs and interests. When running a display advertising campaign, it is therefore important that retailers identify their target audience and take the time to understand this group, by analysing detailed social, behavioural, geographic and demographic data.
Bridging The Gaps On The Customer JourneyOctober 14, 2014
Every day we take part in a journey. It doesn’t require train or bus tickets and we don’t need to make sure there is enough petrol in the car. The journey that I am referring to is the one that billions of us as consumers make when we decide or find the need to purchase something. It is the customer journey.
Unfortunately, similarly to some of our other travel experiences, many of us have less than smooth experiences, leaving us disgruntled and vowing never to make the same mistake again.
The typical customer journey is comprised of six stages:
- Discovery and consideration (through word of mouth, content or advertising)
- Research and evaluation (both online and offline)
- Purchase (both online and offline)
- Product returns, exchanges or maintenance
- Customer feedback, which fuels the discovery and research stages of the journey of another customer
Getting the customer journey right requires planning, a high level of commitment and a certain amount of empathy to avoid any pitfalls along the way. After all, we are all passengers at some point.
Avoiding flaws at each leg of the journey
At each stage of the customer journey, there is a risk that the brand could lose the customer if they don’t sufficiently engage with them and meet their requirements. When a shopper encounters a flaw, retailers become open to the risk that the customer might be tempted to switch to a competitor who is better able to engage with them, or may even abandon their intent to purchase all together. This means that having even one weakness along the customer path could dissuade potential customers from continuing on their purchase journey, harming other marketing strategies which have been implemented along the way and hindering ROI overall.
It’s therefore crucial that brands engage with customers along each stage of the purchase journey. And while engaging with consumers has become more difficult with the advent of online and mobile shopping, technology has enabled us to develop multichannel marketing solutions that will support brands looking to optimize their customer’s journey both online and in-store.
The importance of seamless connections
A recent study by Accenture, which offers some insight into the customer journey, highlighted the importance of a seamless customer experience:
- 37% of UK retail shoppers still cite a seamless customer experience as the main area for retailer improvement. This is down 17% from last year, indicating that the seamless customer experience is improving
- Retail stores remain an important part of the seamless experience, as customers are increasingly opting to shop in-store: 28% of shoppers surveyed globally are planning to shop more in-store in the future
- Webrooming (a concept we commented on earlier in this blog) is growing and has become more prevalent important than showrooming: 79% of UK shoppers have webroomed in the past year vs 71% who have showroomed
- UK department stores, mass merchants and home improvement retailers scored very highly in terms of capability assessment, whereas consumer electronics and a few large apparel retails lag behind the seamless leaders
To help create a seamless customer journey, research by Capgemini published last year clearly stated that brands should invest in digital tools to support the ‘clicks to bricks’ journey. The company identified 13 digital services which customers can use across the purchase cycle. These include: store locator solution, store happenings, e/mcoupons, product locators and click & reserve services, appointment booking system, online personal shopping, m-payments and multichannel loyalty programmes. In today’s digital age, while customers have come to expect these tools, they are surprisingly still not implemented by a significant part of the businesses: the IAB UK Mobile Retail Audit, released in June 2013, found that only 48% of the top 50 UK retailers have a store locator on their mobile site.
Improving the customer journey
While the Accenture research shows that there has been an improvement in seamless customer experience there’s clearly still a long way to go to achieve complete customer satisfaction. The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index reveals that satisfaction has continued to fall among UK customers, leaving people more unhappy with their customer experience now than they were in January 2011.
Our advice for a brand to ensure it is providing a seamless, smooth customer experience is to consider the following steps:
- Map the customer journey out to identify the gaps and frictions
- Identify what gaps to bridge first through customer research. Expect some surprises, as you might experience discrepancies between the customers’ expectations and your perception
- Address these gaps by implementing solutions and services that meet customer expectations
- Review the implementations’ impact and continuously optimize
Solocal Group’s mission of connecting brands and customers is strongly linked to the customer journey, and this is a topic we will continue to investigate and discuss during several upcoming industry events including Internet Retailing Customer Experience Research Briefing (October 22) and Local Search Today! – The Customer Journey (December 16) – hope to see you there!