Connect with your consumers with experiential marketing

Marketers have started to adopt the techniques of experiential marketing? Take Coca-Cola as an example, it invites customers to shake their mobile devices in front of the Coca-Cola TV ads to earn freebies. Another great example is having a football match in shopping mall organized by sport apparel stores. They are the examples of experiential marketing aims to establish connections between brands and customers, through the use of as many human senses as possible. When customers immerse in a memorable and emotional campaign, the experience generates loyalty, encourages purchase decisions and resonates with your brand proposition.

Putting experiential marketing in the digital context, we can see some themes: online to offline (or vice versa), location-based, real-time marketing, consumer events and viral. The case on Delta Air Line suggests the importance of the viral in experiential marketing. Nothing is better than word-of-mouth when it comes to selling experience. Adding a component that is “sharable” via social media is a critical success factor to experiential marketing.

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Tips on E-mail Strategy

Tips on E-mail Strategy

ClickZ has recently published an article sharing tips to streamline one’s email strategy.

From a customer engagement process point of view, it is always tempting to collect as much information as possible about customers during the “sign-up” phase. We think this is very risky giving concerns on personal data privacy and the actual personalization that marketers can put together. We don’t give away details when we meet a stranger, do we? This is particularly true in Asia. We recommend improving customer profile as you engage your customers and as you develop capabilities on offering personalization.

Typical email strategy will include a “welcoming” phase and other automated messages such as birthdays and anniversaries. When in use with other behavioral-based triggers, this type of automation is proven to be beneficial in many previous case studies. However, we would recommend special attention to be paid on triggers based on demographic profiles due to privacy concerns. Data captured may not be valid if there is no regular means of updating.

The article highlighted that up to 50% of e-mails are opened on mobile devices. In Asia, our statistics reveal the same trend, if not higher. In China, with a very high mobile internet population it is essential to have “mobile-first” mindset when you conceive any digital marketing efforts.

Therefore, if your e-mail strategy is running on a traditional platform not capable of delivering responsive e-mail, you risk having 50% of your customers having sub-standard experience. It might be a good idea to review your e-mail marketing deliverables before your competition does.

You can’t ignore mobile-friendly site anymore – Google updated algorithm to enhance mobile-friendly sites’ ranking

On April 21, Google changed its algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites. When users search for something on their smartphones, the mobile-friendly sites will get a higher ranking while the websites that are not mobile-optimized will get demoted.

This big move requires website owners to ensure their websites are mobile-optimized on smartphones and tablets. There are quite a number of factors influencing the website’s search ranking, such as readability, easy-to-click links, responsive design and whether or not the website is using non-mobile friendly software (e.g. Flash).

Meanwhile, the search giant also announced that it will no longer show URLs in mobile search results, and replace the domain name with real-world titles. Rather than URLs, Google will display location of page in “a breadcrumbs-like format”, aiming to help mobile searchers better understand websites.

Therefore, if your company website is not yet optimized for smaller screens, you’d better to equip them with responsive design and well-structured URLs as soon as possible. The longer time your sites’ ranking downgrade, the more visitors you will lose. Mobile site with responsive design is highly recommended as it is considered to be more extensible to new devices, easier to maintain, and more effective from an SEO perspective when compared to a separate mobile site.

Modernizing your website to be optimized for all the screens, reduces impropriety on your website, and will ultimately lead to more conversions and revenue for your company. Action today!

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Hotel Marketing indicator – Online Reputation Management

Online reputation has become a key success indicator for marketers. For hoteliers, online reviews not only give the hotel management team insights into their operation performance, but also influence their revenue. A recent study by TripAdvisor states that while pricing is still the most important factor in accommodation booking decisions, reviews & ratings on review sites come next. As travel planning is becoming more dependent on online reviews and ratings, hotel owners are likely to increase their investment on online reputation management.

Marketers may refer to the following to start a successful online reputation management effort:

1. Review readiness: To determine which platform to engage (i.e. social media, forum) by studying relevant case studies and hear from practitioners.

2. Map out strategy: To define and prioritize objectives and goals. Examples to spur your thinking:

• Drive incremental bookings and increase revenue
• Improve ranking on TripAdvisor
• Increase guest satisfaction and loyalty
• Influence and engage in online conversations about your hotel

After defining the goals, establish a governance policy by identifying opportunities and risks.
Set relevant metrics. (# of comments, customer Satisfaction level, complaints vs. complements, time-to-follow up on actions, # of replies.)

3. Engagement: Analyze guest by developing personas based on behavioral information. Read hotel’s reviews from the top online (TripAdvisor,, etc.) in order to understand their needs. Reply to online reviews in a tone & manner that reinforce the brand.

4. Evaluate outcomes: measure and analyze the data.

5. Acquire feedback and learning: Regular meetings to highlight the key learnings from the outcomes and refining the strategies and measurement.

And the cycle repeats.

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You next big step to a more personalized marketing strategy

How familiar are you with personalized marketing? Did you try greeting customers and providing them relevant marketing content (e.g. email promotions) based on their profile in the lead database? Did you try segment them based on their transactional or behavioral data then engage them in customized campaigns?

We talked about the importance of personalization in our marketing campaigns in numerous articles and we believe the industry is fully aware of how personalization can help them win in the competition. Now, we would like to take a step forward to explore how automation can help us utilize the power of our consumer’s data.

Last week in AWS Summit in San Francisco, Amazon announced a new machine learning service which provides some visualization tools and wizards that can guide us to use the machine learning technology. By using these tools, they claim to be able to help the market building smart data-driven applications that can do an exhaustive analysis of past/real-time data, and also predicts what may happen in the future. We can imagine a lot of use cases on personalization for marketing, for example:
1. Optimize website content / flow based on customer actions
2. Use prior customer activity to choose the most relevant email campaign for target customers
3. Classify reviews using semantic analysis for providing more insights
4. Identify potential customers / customers who have high risk of attrition for plotting more effective engagement strategies

We are excited to hear this news given that one of the tech giants is leading this effort to make machine learning being more accessible in a lower price. But as this is still new to the market, we also believe it takes some time for us to learn how we can use this machine learning tools maturely.

Let’s celebrate this good start and look forward to improving our ROI by this kind of evolving new technologies.


Reposition Facebook Messenger in your marketing strategy

During the Facebook F8 developer conference on March 25, the company had announced an exciting update on their instant messaging platform: Businesses on Messenger. This opens the door for businesses to engage with people in a rich and personalized way. Companies can finally interact with their customers in a conversational style on Facebook platform.

There are 600 million users using Facebook Messenger now and it is nearly triple of number it had a year ago. This large amount of users increased the business value of the platform especially when the company has a lot of existing customers using it. Like many other instant messaging platforms (e.g. WeChat, LINE), companies may enjoy the benefits of the one-to-one dialogue design – effectively communicate with their customer. Marcus, the former PayPal CEO who had helped to jumpstart Facebook message app, also wanted this tool to help solving the problem of businesses encountering difficulties to get attention though email channels.

This is an exciting moment for marketers: Given the popularity of Facebook marketing nowadays, we are already familiar with engaging our customers by different means in Facebook (e.g. Fan pages, Ads, games). Marketers can now combine this new feature with existing CRM solutions to deliver more values to customers. For example, customers can contact the hotel’s customer service directly on the messenger to request for recommending hotel activities / restaurants, assuming they have a profile in their CRM platform, it is possible to automatically recommend a more relevant proposal based on their cuisine preferences, past transaction records (Love visiting Spa / Gym? Like to order in-room services?).

While this feature is not yet available and may subject to a slow launch, we shall keep an eye on this and let you know any progress for an Asia Pacific launch. Stay tuned!

More from Facebook F8 developer conference:


Email marketing hasn’t gone!

While the digital market is flooded with different new emerging channels like Facebook and Twitter, almost all of us forget one traditional but powerful channel – email.

A well-built, content-rich eDM is an effective way to increase sales and sales conversion. eDM message which is relevant to your target audience could create personalized customer needs and thus triggers sales of the products. There is one extra benefit for blasting out e-newsletters regularly – to keep your brand exposed to the customers.

The value of the email channel is not only from the message itself, but also the customers’ email addresses and the behavioral data captured in the campaigns. For example, by using the behavioral data, we can set custom audiences for our Facebook Ad. Email address is a key for various digital engagement channels (e.g. social media). We, marketers therefore can reach them across multi-channel interactions, gather their behavioral data from different sources and build up a valuable database according to each customer’s different levels of engagement.

Understanding the customers’ digital engagement behavior and the channels’ effectiveness could help us improving our interaction strategies and create better values for our customers. A case study1 of one major US online retailer indicated the integration of email and social media can generate a greater impact. It shows that audiences who read both the Facebook ads and e-newsletter become more likely to purchase than those who receive the message from one channel only.

We can see that email marketing is becoming the connective fiber of the customer journey by linking the channels to keep customers satisfied. By planning your email marketing strategy smartly, we believe that both you and your customers can be the winners.

1 Results based on a US retailer’s email and Facebook advertising program conducted over two weeks in April 2014, targeting 925,000 US email subscribers using Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Facebook Custom Audiences. Facebook Offline Conversion Measurement matched and correlated ad impressions to email engagement and transactions. Findings are observational.

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Insights to consider enhancing your customer engagement process by self-service Apps / Kiosks

Have you tried entering a restaurant and making your order with an iPad? How do you feel about that? Will it affect your decision on making orders?

When automation starts to play an important role and efficiency optimization provides opportunities to enhance customer engagement journey, it is high time for us to think how we can utilize this to lower cost and increase revenue.

An article published recently in Harvard Business Review discussed how these self-service apps and kiosks are changing customer behavior. Some examples in the F&B industry did record an increase in sales after digitalizing their customer services. An interesting example from a liquor store: after they introduced self-service technology, the market share of difficult-to-pronounce items increased 8.4%. This change may be caused by the reduction of social friction, customers no need to worry about any negative judgment.

However, the research also reveals the downside of using self-service technology – customers satisfaction may fall when they cannot see that effort is going behind the scenes. This situation is happening particularly in the banking industry. Additionally, technology is often standardized with a set of rules that lacks flexibility. It may disappoint our customers if thing goes wrong under a new situation and we cannot react simultaneously.

So, is your business suitable to implement self-services technology? Here are some key questions to consider:

  • Do your target customers know what’s expected of them (what steps they need to go through)?
  • Are they capable of doing what’s expected of them?
  • Can customers see the value of paying extra effort for self-service so they are willing to change their way of engagement?

Discussion with your team and working on prototypes may help you to find out more.

We shall share with you more insights on how technology can help you improving customer engagement in upcoming blog posts. Stay tuned!


Instagram Carousel Ad – A New Experience for Social Media Advertisement

Instagram Sponsored Ad

On 2015 Mar 5, Instagram unveiled a new advertising function called carousel ads, which opens new opportunities for social media marketing for all kind of business.

The carousel ad allows advertisers to post a series of photos in one post that audience could swipe and view. There is a “Learn more” button at the last page redirecting audience to the advertisers’ webpage for more information. More importantly, advertisers can track how their audience interacts with the ad (i.e. Did they read, like or comment on their ad? Did they swipe through multiple photos and click through to their site?). Marketers can therefore obtain a more comprehensive picture on how effective their money is spent.

With this new function, advertisers can tell a good story via a sequence of beautiful images and push audiences to click and direct traffic to the newly released special offer detail page. For example, a hotel can utilize the visual driven nature of Instagram to present their hotel experience – using visuals of room, dining venues and spa to illustrate what the customers can enjoy in a special offer.

The carousel ad is currently provided on a limited basis but the ad format may vary in near future. Instagram will have to approve all ads on the platform as they want to keep things tidy. Instagram is considering whether to allow videos in the carousels too.

Instagram is growing in popularity, especially in the community of millennials. We are excited to have it joining the party of sponsored ads. Marketers may now consider to publish their stories in a more visual appealing approach.


The five catalysts of great marketing nowadays

Marketing and technology are becoming more difficult to be treated as isolated silos in digital marketing. By utilizing new technologies, marketing continues to evolve, often at an unprecedented rate, to push organizations to react proactive then ever.
A recent article published by Mckinsey&Company may give us some insights on this evolution. They suggested five elements for great marketing today: Science, Substance, Story, Speed and Simplicity (5S).

By using new technology (science), that inspires us with more data and analysis, we can now have more precise measurement and management on customer decisions. We use different types of tracking technologies to evaluate what is the best way to interact with our customers. These technologies (e.g. tracking code being installed on websites, sensors and video that enable us to track in-store behaviors) are now at a lower cost to allow valuable data is more accessible.

Marketing is no longer only about messaging, but also involves more substances such us products & services development to provide functional benefits based on consumer desires and needs. For example, online retailers can make use of their transaction data to retool their supply chain, enabling faster restocking and better logistic arrangement. They may also manufacture new products that customers want (e.g. popular fashion brands like H&M , Topshop, Uniqlo and Zara are now bringing mass-market price to the colors, fabrics and design of high fashion).

Although marketing can be supported by new technologies to reach a new height, the importance of good story telling is still essential for the success. New communication tools (e.g. social media, mobile devices), which encompasses richer digital interactions, cultivates the demand of creativity. The narratives need to be flexible because its quality depends on the brand’s digital interactions with consumers, which is becoming more frequent and this will require marketers to respond in a higher velocity.

Moreover, given the convenience brought to us by the digital world, consumers are expecting a higher clock speed on marketing as their preference can change quickly. Simplifying our approaches can facilitate the organization to fight this war as complexity can be a strong enemy of speed. That’s why a number of leading marketers are reforming their organizations to reduce hierarchies, silos, communication gaps and redundancies. We may also use technology to reduce complexity, for example: setting up internal social media platforms to encourage the generation and sharing of ideas, which helps speeding up problem solving across the organization.

Here are the key takeaways:
Big data coming from powerful tracking tools can help us improving our engagement model. This engagement goes beyond messaging, it’s also about what products / services we are providing to our customers. To cope with the challenges brought to us by the new media, we can simplify the team operations in order to react quickly.

Let’s hope that we all can exploit the power of marketing with technologies in the 21st century to identify as many opportunities as we can and achieve success.

Read more about Mckinsey&Company’s insights here.