I just published this case study about All Things Hair. If you haven’t heard or come across ATH before, it’s a series of YouTube channels initiated by Unilever’s hair care products division. On each national channel (they’re in about a dozen countries now), a half-dozen teenage and twenty-something video bloggers describe how you can get some really important look or style going.*
There are a lot of interesting things going on in this ATH thing that I’m not really going to focus on here, such as predictive search, marketing innovation, influencers, video marketing, product positioning, brand measurement, ecommerce links, audience targeting and paid content promotion. This was Unilever working with Razorfish, so you knew it wasn’t going to be “How VO5 got better email open rates”.
No, what interests me most is how this whole ATH burrito here represents a new way of building brands based on how customers work and think today. Unilever’s not the first to do this, by any means, but – given the fact that they have a little bit of experience thinking about brand-building – they seemed to have done it with their “eyes wide open” if you will. They knew they were reengineering how they built brand value, and proceeded methodically from that standpoint.
So what did this awareness mean when push came to shove?
I spent the last couple of months interviewing marketers and vendors to understand how brands integrate push notifications and in-app messages in their marketing strategy.
Even though my research was primarily focused on mobile apps, I was convinced that there was much more at play. In fact, brands that can harness the power of contextual data to consistently deliver customer value will deliver compelling brand experiences that will build brand preference and, ultimately, loyalty.
Even with the emergence of connected objects that send notifications, smartphones will remain the primary interface in which consumers will personalize their digital experiences. Smartphones will become the hub for most interactions between a brand and its customers. In the next five to 10 years, consumers will use smartphone apps to define and control the communication environment in which brands can interact with them. In particular, we see that:
Mobile will become the primary touchpoint for brands to engage consumers. Mobile traffic has already overtaken desktop traffic in five major countries: Nigeria, India, South Africa, Indonesia, and Poland.No doubt this will happen across the globe in the next couple of years. B2C marketers will become smarter in engaging customers via mobile, maturing their approach and moving progressively to the holy grail of one-to-one marketing.
For two days this week, I enjoyed Hubspot’s Inbound 2015 conference. Hubspot is an inbound marketing platform targeting small to medium-size businesses and each year the company holds a conference bringing together thought-leaders, customers, and partners. This 3.5-day event has over 250 sessions spanning a myriad of topics. Conferences provide different perspectives on the marketing landscape, customer success stories, product updates, philanthropic awareness, networking opportunities, and — my favorite — kernels that can be developed into themes with broader implications. I was happy to experience all those elements and walked away with more than a few kernels with broader implications. I’d like to share a few resulting from comments by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Chris Brogan, and Mitch Joel. Let me forewarn you, these ideas may seem provocative, but they make for a good debate and even better research.
One-third of the digital marketers in China who responded to our survey indicated that eCommerce is one of their job responsibilities (see the figure). Forrester sees this trend developing in China as well as in Western markets. For example, in the US, Gap redesigned its global CMO role by merging eCommerce and digital marketing in a single executive position earlier this year.
However, the fusion of digital marketing and eCommerce teams is happening more extensively in China because:
Social and commerce are more closely intertwined in China than anywhere else. The bond between social media and eCommerce is extremely close in China, exemplified by the strategic partnerships between WeChat and JD.com and between Alibaba and Weibo.
With a whopping 549 million monthly active users, WeChat has become the largest mobile social app in Asia Pacific. Smart marketers not only borrow mobile momentsfrom WeChat, but leverage its power across the customer life cycle. My recently published report, Reinvent Customer Relationships With WeChat Mobile, helps B2C marketers understand the dynamics of the WeChat mobile ecosystem and learn how to best ride the wave of the WeChat-dominated mobile revolution in China. The report:
Shows how dominant WeChat is in Chinese consumers’ mobile lives.WeChat has become the default social networking tool in China and has disrupted consumers’ mobile behaviors. Metro Chinese consumers already spend more than half of their mobile Internet time on it. In the past year, WeChat users consumed US$15.3 billion worth of mobile data— more than Weibo, shopping, video, music, mapping, and email services combined.
Identifies the core features and services of the WeChat mobile ecosystem.WeChat is far more than a messaging app; it’s a rich mobile ecosystem filled with powerful features and services. The key ones that marketers can leverage include branded public accounts, advertising, WeChat Payment, eCommerce, smart services, and linking online to offline.
In case you haven’t noticed, the number of smartphone users in Asia Pacific has grown – we estimate that it breached the 1 billion mark in 2014. This is the first time that more people in the region used smartphones than feature phones.
When coupled with the fact that the region is also a leader in innovative messaging apps, such as WeChat, Line, and KakaoTalk, marketing professionals can start to see how Asia Pacific is ripening into a mobile-led commerce and marketing harvest – creating a commercial marketplace where users interact and trade and offering organizations growing sales and marketing opportunities.
However, many B2C marketing professionals today limit that potential by only focusing on promoting flash sales or discounts, as seen on the likes of WeChat and Line. Marketers must consider longer-term use cases to fully mine these apps' potential. Unless a messaging app user is specifically searching for and ready to buy a particular product or service, marketers who continue to pepper the app’s chat room with meaningless discount messages will have wasted their investment. In addition, users will likely move to the next competitive (i.e., cheaper) offering when it comes along, running the risk of marketers facing a race to the bottom with cutthroat pricing.
We recently asked marketing leaders who use content marketing platforms (CMPs) a simple "this or that" question, namely:
What business outcomes did your content marketing initiatives generate last year: top-line benefits (new customers, revenue, sales) or bottom-line benefits (loyalty, reduced marketing or media expenses)?
The responses came down decidedly in the second category. In other words, those marketing leaders who are currently practicing content marketing in a way big enough to necessitate software specific to it believe the value they're generating is less growth than efficiency.
This is in line with the input I've received from both marketing leaders and CMP vendors. Both describe a scenario where all kinds of marketing teams - search-focused, website-focused, customer engagement-focused, social-focused, recruitment-focused, PR-focused - have internalized the value of content, and are commissioning lots of it. To the point of chronic overindulgence.
Their current needs are these:
Producing content once and repurposing it and reusing it in a way that maximizes media efficiency
Managing multichannel fragmentation in a way that doesn't fragment the organization
Maintaining brand consistency when brand is as much about culture and narrative as it is about colors, logos and lock-outs
Learning how to prioritize customer needs and value in all customer engagement situations
Change is constant, especially with Facebook. Not too long ago it changed its algorithm to allow users to see their favorite content within their New Feeds first. Then it introduced Instant Articles to help publishers create interactive articles on Facebook. This week, Facebook updated its logo and its algorithm again. This update helps users prioritize stories and posts by allowing them to select the friends and pages they'd like to see at the top of their News Feed. And now for the grand reveal...
Facebook will no longer use likes in its cost per click measurement definition.
Yes, you read correctly, Facebook is discounting the value of its likes to the point where it doesn't factor into their click metric.
Why is this happening now?
At the end of the day, ads cost money. If Facebook wants to keep that ad revenue flowing, they've got to connect those ads to the things that drive the bottom line -- items that tie back to business goals, to justify the expense to marketers. Going forward, these clicks will factor into CPC:
At the beginning of the year, Forrester made the call that the future of mobile wallets lies beyond payments. By adding marketing value beyond payments — such as integration of loyalty rewards, coupons and many other services, wallets will become marketing platforms complementing merchants' own integrated apps.
Consumers want a better shopping experience, not better payment systems. By adding support for rewards programs (from the likes of Walgreens or Kohl’s) and store-issued credit and debit cards, Apple will make this fall a first step in building a more integrated mobile wallet. The rebranding of Passbook to Wallet represents an explicit push by Apple toward a more comprehensive, consumer-friendly solution.
Less than a year after launching in the US, consumer adoption of Apple Pay is modest but encouraging, all the more Apple Pay has quickly become a trusted solution.
I believe adoption in the UK will be faster than in the US for a number of different reasons:
The NFC and contactless ecosystem is much more mature in the UK.
There is no consortium of retailers like MCX with ConcurC led by Walmart willing to launch a competing offering. That said, Zapp is likely to be main competing service when it launches in October with the backing of Sainsbury’s, Asda, House of Fraser, Thomas Cook, HSBC, First Direct, Nationwide, and Santander. Barclays, the one major UK bank not backing Apple Pay, just announced today they will also support Zapp at launch.
The inclusion of Transport for London as a partner is a way to raise awareness and accelerate daily usage.
Apple will benefit from a larger installed base of compatible devices (iPhone 6 and 6+) and from the awareness created by the media buzz from the US launch.
Most CMOs today have to close gaps in data collection within and across marketing units, integrate the data to transform it into actionable insights, and foster a closer working relationship among these units to achieve the overarching business goals. Building a command center may be a distant priority.
However, I have argued that digital command centers are intelligent nerve centers that let brands quickly track digital moments and respond appropriately to manage their reputation, retarget display ads, drive new sales opportunities, and provide customer support. In effect, it’s a marketing organization’s digital gold mine. On a broader scale, this marketing capability will importantly feed into an entire firm’s system of insights.