Archive for the 'Digital Strategy' Category

Showrooming and the Rise of the Mobile-Assisted Shopper

September 13, 2013

Have you found a product you liked in a store, but then purchased it later online, or maybe on your smartphone right there in the store? If you answered yes, you are part of the “showrooming” phenomenon that has concerned retailers for years.

Given the growing penetration of the smartphone market, our Center on Global Brand Leadership, in collaboration with global loyalty experts from Aimia, sought to better understand how these new mobile-assisted shoppers (“M-Shoppers”) were actually using their devices in store aisles.

We are pleased to share with you today the results of this research in our new report, Showrooming and the Rise of the Mobile-Assisted Shopper. We surveyed 3,000 consumers in three markets (US, UK, Canada) to examine how smartphone owners use their devices in-store and then analyze what strategies retailers need to consider for these mobile-assisted shoppers.

Our study found that all M-Shoppers are not the same. We identified five unique segments of M-Shoppers, each with different attitudes toward physical stores, patterns of showrooming, and motivations to pull out their phone or tablet within a store. We uncovered some threats, but also several opportunities for retailers to strategically enable M-Shoppers to use their phones as part of the shopping experience.

DOWNLOAD the full report (.pdf) at: http://j.mp/Mshoppers

THEN JOIN US: On October 3, 2013 at 11-11:30am ET we will present a webinar on the research.

READ coverage of the report and its findings in Businessweek.

BY MATTHEW QUINT and DAVID ROGERS

Warby Parker: A Purposeful Vision

August 27, 2013

Warby Parker InterviewMuch like a brand repositioning itself, eyeglasses have a new image—from a functional apparatus that 1980s youth cringed over (à la braces) to a fashionable tool that many are proud to don.

This bodes well for Warby Parker. The burgeoning e-commerce eyewear company takes pride in likewise transforming those of us who vividly remember wandering blindly through school hallways into trendsetters for the “in-crowd” without breaking bank. But Warby Parker offers more than a pretty face. The student-founded start-up acted on a deeper vision and managed to hit its first-year sales goals in just three weeks… on a $120k budget.

For a mere $95 you can purchase “fully loaded,” custom fit glasses with anti-reflective, prescription lenses—which, by the way, are manufactured in the same facility as luxury brands that charge hundreds of dollars for frames alone. But the three-year-old retailer embraces an even greater purpose at its core—donating stylish specs for every pair sold to those who have forgone proper vision because they can’t afford to buy even low-priced eyeglasses.

Similar to what TOMS did for the shoe industry, Warby Parker is shaking up the optics market. Co-founder Neil Blumenthal explains, “[Glasses] stand for something…. So it wasn’t just about getting a bunch of cheap glasses and selling them online.”

When Blumenthal and three of his Wharton classmates heard that one billion people worldwide were without glasses, they risked trips to the Dean’s office to embark on this venture. Blumenthal tells Mike O’Toole, host of PJA Radio’s The Unconventionals, “[We wanted] to build… a business that is scalable, profitable, but does good in the world and doesn’t charge a premium for it…. The problems that we face are more complex and larger than ever before. And volunteering on the weekend is not going to solve it.”

Blumenthal explains that Warby Parker exists in three distinct worlds—fashion, technology and social enterprise. “We spent a lot of time thinking, ‘What are we?’ and ‘What are we not?’ ‘What do we stand for?’”

Warby Parker, the David in a Goliath world, competes with industry brands like Luxottica (Ray Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples) and LensCrafters that monopolize the market. But Blumenthal and his cohorts aim to make  their business model an example for small enterprises and Fortune 500 companies alike. “Ultimately businesses can be and should be a catalyst for good,” says Blumenthal.

For many, eyewear is more than utilitarian. It is indeed an extension of the fashion world, a form of personal style and expression. So the founders were challenged with persuading consumers to buy prescription glasses online rather than in-person at a retail establishment where they can immediately try them on.

Warby Parker implemented the “Home Try-On” program. Customers can select up to five different, non-prescriptive frames which are shipped at no cost to their doorsteps. They then have five days to try the frames, solicit feedback from family, friends, and style gurus. After making a selection, customers simply return the frames using a pre-paid shipping label and order their chosen pair through Warby Parker’s website.

Warby Parker Class Trip

The team behind Warby Parker succeeded in building awareness through a well-targeted campaign convincing aspirational media outlets like GQ and Vogue to feature them. After selling out of their top 15 styles in four weeks, Warby Parker accumulated a waitlist of 20,000 people.

Warby Parker has since expanded from operating out of Blumenthal’s apartment to selling frames at their own brick-and-mortar stores. More recently they launched the “Warby Parker Class Trip,” transforming a school bus into a mobile showroom for a cross-country road trip to bring the Warby Parker experience to the masses.

To hear more about how this start-up became one of the most talked about entrepreneurial ventures, listen to Neil Blumenthal’s full interview on PJA’s The Unconventionals.

By ALLIE ABODEELY

Building Your Action Plan for Social Media Marketing

July 23, 2013

As social media platforms went through their early exponential growth, marketers were compelled to dive blindly into the pool. Today they care about what kind of splash they will make. The pressure is on to create concrete strategies and deliver real value from any time spent on social media marketing activities. At the BRITE ’13 conference, Ric Dragon, author of Social Marketology, offers an action plan for marketers, of all sizes, to think smartly about how to best use these new tools and the 1-to-1 connection they offer.

While it should be obvious, Ric has found that many companies still don’t think about their desired outcomes – how will a social media marketing effort fit in with your company’s broader brand position and personality, and how does it align with all your marketing goals? He notes that the important thing is to consider and develop an understanding of these four major brand stakeholders:

  • Us – be united internally on your company’s brand goals and personality
  • Them – know what drives your consumers and how they perceive your brand
  • Communities – uncover the larger, aggregated networks of your consumers
  • Influencers – get to know who is influential in these communities

Throughout his talk, Ric provides insights on how to think about developing metrics for your social media campaigns, how to uncover micro-segments of active communities that will likely have an affinity for your brand or communications, and how to “professionally stalk” and excite the influencers of those communities.

These techniques would then be executed within five key approaches to social media:

  • Brand maintenance – having a footprint, and listening to and occasionally interacting with your customers
  • Reputation and crisis – creating and sharing content that shows your leadership on business and/or social issues
  • Community building – creating an interactive presence with brand ambassadors
  • Influence – targeting and connecting with key social media influencers in your category
  • Big splash – creating attention through a unique campaign that will excite a huge reaction

“[Marketers] need to think about the healthy mix of these approaches,” Ric states, “and acknowledge that they may change over time.” Each brand must develop an action plan that weighs the level of attention it gives to the development of web properties, social connections, content creation, and stakeholder engagement, and how this balance should be altered each quarter.

Ric concludes, “When we integrate all this work with storytelling, it is extremely powerful, and I believe we all can grow our business through social media.”

 

The Evolution of Online Education and its Future Real-Life Applications

June 5, 2013

Once considered a threat to traditional higher educational institutions, online course offerings now seem to be a defining element in creating and maintaining a world-class reputation in the space. Speaking at the BRITE ’13 Conference, Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University’s first chief digital officer, discussed how the growing demand for massive open online courses (MOOCs) is disrupting conventional thought around the school’s many programs.

PJA

There are several platforms in place already, including Harvard and MIT’s co-created platform edX, and for-profit providers Coursera and Udacity, with the landscape changing daily as colleges and universities around the globe explore digital learning models and test them in larger markets. This past April, Stanford University, a long-time advocate for open learning, struck an agreement to share its proprietary Class2Go platform with edX, GigaOm reported.

Despite the growing number of courses offered online and the increasing appetite for them, the sentiment around online degrees seems to be a different story. As discussed in a US News & World Report piece in late 2012, it is still unclear how far down the road major blue-chip organizations are from universally embracing job candidates with online degrees, although smaller organizations have begun to look more seriously at them. Similarly, many schools themselves have reservations – Columbia being one of them. Administration is reluctant to provide online MBA courses for full credit, stating that a large part of the experience happens on campus and in the traditional classroom setting. Given how quickly online ed has taken hold in the past year alone, Sreenivasan predicted more and more accredited institutions will likely begin to offer full-fledged programs.  He explained that the advancement of and increasing accessibility to technology would be a key driver in this space. Columbia, he pointed out, has been involved with online ed since the turn of the century, citing its Fathom project, a learning portal which ran from 2000-2003. He said that its failure to catch on was due to the fact that it was “ahead of its time” and needed people to catch up to, and be able to access, the innovation before it could succeed.

Whatever the challenges, Sreenivasan was adamant that any successful initiative would be rooted in Columbia’s commitment to its brand, claiming that ongoing exploration and testing of online courses would not detract from “the magic that happens in the classroom.” Instead, he expects to optimize how both the digital and physical classrooms operate. How? The same way other big businesses improve their product and services: data. Through the ability to offer classes to tens of thousands of students, educators are able to collect enormous amounts of information on how students interact with courses and online tools. From Sreenivasan’s perspective, it is only a matter of time before digital learning becomes mainstream.

Watch Sree Sreenivasan’s BRITE ’13 talk to learn more about his and other organization’s views on the future of online education.

BY NANDITA RAY

Small Experiments That Lead to Big Results: The Value of A/B Testing

May 29, 2013

The use of randomized experiments to determine the most effective marketing or communications approach – known as A/B testing – is an extremely valuable tool for companies aiming to make the biggest impact on key stakeholders. However, according to Pete Koomen, president of website optimization software company Optimizely, the method is not implemented nearly enough. At the BRITE ’13 conference, Koomen shared personal experiences to demonstrate the very real value that A/B testing can contribute to developing results-driven communications programs. The most compelling of his examples included the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and the countless tests its analytics team ran on www.barackobama.com website content and email subject lines. Koomen noted that even the slightest word phrasing could drive visitors to action (e.g., donating funds, signing up to volunteer). “It was an extremely powerful technique for [influencing] decisions,” he said. However, given the deep investment in time and resources needed for A/B testing, Koomen observed over time that companies tended to avoid using the technique – a fact that he and his business partner Dan Siroker quickly recognized as a major business opportunity.

Koomen

The success of the 2008 campaign spoke for itself. Koomen estimated that methodical experimentation accounted for roughly $75 million more in donations to President Obama’s campaign and 4 million new website registrants. These results motivated Koomen and Siroker, both former Google product managers, to found Optimizely in 2009. They created a simple program that even small and medium-size businesses could utilize without having to depend on specialized in-house talent to run experiments. Organizations with limited resources could take advantage of marketing tactics that Amazon and other major blue-chip companies have been using for years to increase traffic and user conversion.

At BRITE ‘13, Koomen shared some best practices and lessons learned from running over 100,000 tests for clients and identifying the most effective approaches for achieving business objectives. For the Obama campaign, this entailed what Bloomberg BusinessWeek called “strange, incessant, and weirdly over familiar e-mails” due to the unusual, extremely casual tone Obama’s team usedjourney to office in 2008. The fundraising team found that the most successful subject heading “Hey” alone brought in millions of dollars in funding.

A few things that Koomen recommends businesses keep in mind as they take stock of their websites’ performance are:

  • Define quantifiable success metrics. One of the most important parts of testing. As exemplified by the Obama campaign, Koomen states that the campaign staffers did a good job of attracting people to the official website, but turning the site’s visitors into subscribers had proved more challenging and converting email signups to paying donators even more so.  By tweaking the website to optimize those two KPIs – subscribers and payers – the new website outperformed the old version by about 40%.
  • Explore before you refine. Koomen cautions against refining and optimizing in favor of exploring first to ensure you are aware of all potential solutions before selecting one to improve.  Otherwise, there is a chance the best solution will be missed.
  • Less is more. Reducing optionality can have a major impact on a website’s effectiveness. Koomen cites a client which removed a series of links related to its product portfolio and company background from its shopping cart page and saw a 16% improvement in the dollars per visitor.

PJA

Watch Pete Koomen’s BRITE ’13 talk to learn more about how A/B Testing can drive greater communications effectiveness.

BY NANDITA RAY

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