Marketing And The Mobile Media Revolution

Tips On How Marketers Can Capitalise On The Growing Push For Mobility

Indians cannot live without their smartphones, and the unprecedented growth witnessed by the country’s app market underlines their love for their mobile devices. According to a recent report by App Annie, India outpaced the US in terms of the app market growth in 2016 with more than 6 billion app downloads from Google Play. The country also occupied top spot when it came to the time spent on mobiles; users from India spent nearly 145 billion hours on their Android devices, nearly 35 billion hours more than the second-placed Brazil. These statistics are music to the ears of Indian marketers.

With budget smartphones and extremely cheap 4G/LTE data tariffs having become the norm, India as a nation has leapfrogged over the ‘Personal Computer’ revolution to climb directly onto the mobile-first bandwagon. This presents unprecedented prospects to create better and more result-oriented mobile-driven marketing initiatives. But how can this massive marketing opportunity be realised? Here are a few tips that can help Indian marketers in capitalising on the growing push for mobility and maximising their brand salience:

Customer Experience, Data, And Personalisation

In today’s interconnected, digitally-empowered age, customers have asserted the role of brand evangelists who can make or break a brand’s fortune through word-of-mouth publicity. This is what makes customer experience the top priority for marketers. Gathering user feedback through messages and app notifications can help in identifying common consumer pain-points and addressing them for an enhanced end-customer experience.

The importance of personalisation in enabling a superior brand experience cannot be stressed enough, either. Smartphones today have become repositories of constant real-time information pertaining to all aspects of their users’ lives, including their likes, preferences, and requirements. The onus falls on marketers to extract the right data from this vast database and to analyse it to generate an accurate profile for every customer, which can help in creating highly-tailored sales funnels that nudge customers to commit to purchase. Brands such as Amazon and Netflix have already demonstrated how creating personalised brand-customer interactions that meet and exceed consumer expectations can result in greater brand affinity and maximise loyalty and sales.

Content And Gaming To Drive Maximum Consumer Outreach

Marketing is innovative selling, and content is right at the heart of it. With content that appeals to its target audience, content marketing helps brands in driving more traffic and influencing conversions whilst also generating and sustaining visibility and consumer mindshare in the long run. But with mobiles fast replacing PCs and laptops as the first-screen for an increasing percentage of consumers, there is a need to optimise content to make it more suitable for mobile-based consumption. Ensuring their content marketing initiatives are designed to be accessed on smartphone screens through either apps or web-based browsers can help marketers in generating better impact for their respective brands.

More And Better: Driving Engagement Through Video-Based Marketing

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words, but nothing beats video when it comes to creating a marketing buzz. According to a report by HubSpot, videos featuring products/services can positively influence the purchase decision of nearly 64% online shoppers. Another study by Simply Measured indicated that video-based content is shared 1200% more than the combined shares accumulated by links and text-based content. This gives marketers the perfect opportunity to increase their customer outreach through quirky branded as well as informative ‘how-to’ videos.

Geolocation And The Rise Of Beacons For Cross-Channel Marketing

Geolocation-based marketing has been in vogue for a while now, allowing brands around the world to leverage technology to promote their physical offerings. With the number of smartphone owners in the country expected to cross 720 million by 2020, Indian marketers have an unparalleled opportunity to tap into the power of mobile for cross-channel initiatives. Geolocation-based marketing will enable marketers to push customised in-app offers to prospective consumers in a particular geographical area, thereby driving greater footfall to brick-and-mortar outlets. Proximity beacons have emerged as another medium for marketers to engage prospective customers in the physical realm, enabling more relevant and contextual marketing for a more seamless consumer experience.

Programmatic Marketing For Better ROI

Expected to comprise 80% of the total marketing spend by 2018, programmatic marketing is the next stage of evolution for traditional media buying, marketing, and advertising. It leverages consumer insights and algorithm-based approaches to create highly-effective marketing initiatives that can target the right customer through the right channel at the right time. Smartphones, with their ubiquitous, always-connected proposition, are perfect for marketers looking to roll out programmatic campaigns which can drive greater personalisation and better precision for better ROI on marketing spends.

This article was originally published on https://inc42.com/resources/marketing-mobile-media-revolution/

5 Predictions For the Future of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a constantly shifting process. With the rise and implementation of innovative technologies, digital marketing has been getting better on a daily basis. However, with all these changes, modern businesses are constantly trying to keep up with the shifting medium for attracting potential customers.

If you want to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to digital marketing, you need to make well-informed predictions. Check out these five predictions for the future of digital marketing that businesses should expect in the near future:

Customized Websites for Unique Customers

Customization has become an integral part of quality marketing. Soon, website owners will setup their pages in a way that will be specifically tailored to particular users. These fully personalized websites may completely change how people interact with the internet.

These websites will be monitoring several factors about a visitor, like the previous web pages a visitor has been to, cookies, and time spent on such pages. All these factors will be used to make the visitor find the exact thing he/she is looking for. Websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Google are already using personalization, so this prediction isn’t too far off.

Cost Increases

Current digital marketing costs are fairly low compared to other forms of traditional marketing like TV ads, which can cost you several thousand dollars if you’re lucky. But with social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, digital marketing costs are closer to free than anything else.

All this is set to change in the future as more and more business are beginning to embrace the concept of digital marketing. A big percentage of millennials, around 84 percent, claim that they don’t trust traditional advertising and this may be the shift businesses need to turn to digital marketing, which will ultimately drive up the costs.

More Video

Most online digital marketing platforms have embraced video ads to increase the efficacy of online advertising campaigns. This trend will likely increase as video is expected to completely dominate the marketing world in a few short years.

While video has become an integral part of marketing strategies across the country, the future is going to be a video paradise, filled with moving advertisements that are interactive, short, and incredibly entertaining.

Location Based Marketing

The rise of location based advertising has been an exciting ride for startups. Almost every app that is downloaded asks for location permissions and this for a noble reason. Many more business and brands are beginning to improve the power of their advertising efforts and location focused campaigns are next on the list.

Future digital marketing is going to certainly turn to be location based as technology improves and allows companies to use beacons to really engage their customers on the go.

Going Mobile

The number of people using smartphones to purchase and engage has increased tremendously over the past few years. Digital marketers, in their quest to reach as many people as possible, will craft ways of specifically targeting users of these devices. From mobile optimization to on-the-go apps designed for mobile, the smartphone revolution will hit digital marketing more than any other field.

This article was originally published on http://tech.co/5-predictions-future-digital-marketing-2017-02

How Online Shopping Has Become More Personal and Effective

More and more, we’re seeing online businesses add new features and services with the goal of replicating and even surpassing the personal ways we shop at brick and mortar stores.

A perfect example is how men’s fashion site JackThreads is revolutionizing online clothing shopping with a program called tryouts, which allows you to have clothes shipped to you where you can try them on for free before buying them. This isn’t the first time online shopping has become more effective or personal. Here are several ways online shopping has improved:

It’s Becoming More Like Shopping in Person

As for JackThreads, online retailers and ecommerce platforms are evolving to become more like shopping at brick and mortar establishments and in some ways are even better.

One way is the constant push to cut down on the cost and time of shipping. Amazon has always been the leader in this category with Prime free two-day shipping, but fewer people realize that Amazon now offers free two-hour shipping in several locations. Even one-hour shipping is available if you’re willing to pay a small premium.

These faster and faster shipping times are bringing us closer to the near instant gratification we experience when shopping at brick and mortar stores. For many, it’ll be more convenient and quicker to purchase something online than to go out and purchase it in person!

Another way online shopping is becoming like in person shopping is in the product descriptions and images. Gone are the days where retailers uploaded a few images of a product on a white background. Now, product dimensions and details are often more thorough than you’d find in stores. A few examples are the 360 degree product views, model size detail for online clothing stores.

Better Reviews

While some stores have attempted to implement some form of reviews, most don’t actually provide useful information. Best Buy for example shows how many stars a product has been reviewed online, but you aren’t able to actually see any of the reviews!

Online shopping has always been more effective than shopping in person because of the ease of accessing and reading reviews, and it hasn’t stopped improving. Thanks to time and programs that encourage reviews, products can have thousands of reviews, crowdsourced FAQs and more. This enables you to not only get a general consensus, but also to find people who are similar to you and see what they think of the products you’re considering.

The Ability to Find the Best Deals in Seconds

Almost everyone knows that you can find the best deals online much easier than in stores, but this has been taken to the next level in recent years. Many sites which focus on curating reviews and deals from across the web have sprung up. Some dive into a niche and only curate deals that appeal to a particular crowd such as HiConsumption (gadgets, architecture, design, fashion, art, vehicles and more for men) or Bring A Trailer (classic automobiles) while others highlight the best products and deals in specific categories like Best Deals Today.

Both types of sites will help you find the best deals and products in a matter of seconds — something that just can’t be done in several stores or even malls.

Customer Support Has Evolved

You expect excellent customer support at an in-person store and the same needs to be expected of online businesses. Many online retailers take pride in having speedy and friendly customer support representatives which make your shopping experience even more enjoyable. A lot of websites now have live chat available so that you can have responses faster than ever before.

A Hassle-free Checkout Process

Checking out online was long plagued by several steps from signing up, to filling out your address and billing information and more. Even if you had to wait in lines at stores, online shopping used to feel more burdensome. Today even that has completely changed since you can now save your card and shipping information. This way they can be used across several sites which makes checking out as easy as confirming your cart and pressing a single button to pay.

What’s Next?

Online shopping is quickly evolving and many can already buy everything they need (including fresh groceries) from the comfort of their home. We may be looking at online shopping as the main option sooner than we think.

This article was originally published on http://tech.co/online-shopping-personal-effective-2017-02

OmniChannel: The Crossroads to a successful Customer Experience

Increasingly connected and mobile, consumers are using multiple devices and channels (online and offline) in their buying process, with 70% of UK shoppers using both online and in-store channels. In search of information and seeking the best value for money, they are spending more and more time researching purchases in advance. Constantly demanding more in terms of flexibility and speed, they want to be able to order in a click, and receive their purchase within one hour in their nearest store, or delivered the same day.

Retailers are now engaged in a fierce struggle to satisfy their customers as soon as possible. Faced with new and evolving consumer habits, the challenge is to multiply points of contact with consumers, while offering them a unified service for a successful purchasing experience.

Sell on multiple channels to boost sales
Limiting a brand to its online shop is not a successful option anymore – retailers must increase their visibility to expand their customer base. This strategy first depends on the optimisation of online presence via both SEO and SEA strategies to improve positioning on search engines. The next step is to distribute products on other marketing channels with a higher visibility, such as price comparison sites or marketplaces. On top of this, advertising campaigns with the aim of acquiring or retargeting potential customers should also be put in place.

Buying habits are changing and taking on a social dimension, where customers want to interact more with brands through social networks and messaging apps. These become real sales opportunities for retailers, both in terms of conversion rate and customer relations. To date, more than a third of Internet users use social networks and more than 30% of the world’s population uses them to find products.

Messaging applications represent a completely new sales channel for brands. This was the case with Dior on WeChat in early August. The luxury brand used the Chinese messaging app to sell bags and has, at the same time, become pioneer of luxury product sales on the platform that boasts nearly 850 million active monthly users. This trend is likely to intensify
as by 2018, 90% of global Internet users are expected to be using at least one messaging app (FEVAD Lab – Social Commerce).

When ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar businesses become one
In competition with each other for a long time, ecommerce and traditional commerce are now one in the same in the customer buying process. So this trend now has its own name: the “phygital”. It is essential to go beyond screens to develop points of contact with consumers. Ben Greenaway, senior omnichannel manager at Adidas, commented on his strategy at the Lengow Ecommerce Day: “Although digital is increasingly involved in retail, it should not be forgotten that purchases are still predominantly made in physical stores”.

With this new form of hybrid consumption, traditional outlets become a strategic asset for online retailers with services such as Click and Collect. They are thus able to meet the new expectations of the consumers and to compensate for certain obstacles to the purchase, such as delivery times or being able to try the product before buying it.

On the other hand, Clicks and Bricks businesses (physical businesses that have developed an ecommerce site) rely on online retailers to conquer new markets. This is notably the case with French department store Galeries Lafayette, who bought the pureplayer Bazarchic, specialising in online event sales. With this acquisition, the brand intends to strengthen its omnichannel strategy.

In the same way, both web-to-store and store-to-web are growing with the rise of mobile. Used for both searching for information and making payments, mobile has become the cornerstone of a successful omnichannel strategy. Using both online and offline methods to complement each other has become an essential part of selling.

At a time when consumers are fickle in their purchasing journey, the key is to offer the best offer at the best time. A good omnichannel strategy improves the purchasing experience, but also allows for the sharing of rich and unified customer data from one channel to another, to best meet consumer expectations. They will thus be more likely to pay attention to brands that personally meet their expectations, as opposed to mass marketing.

Mickaël Froger is CEO of ecommerce automation specialist Lengow

This article was originally posted on

GUEST COMMENT Omnichannel: the crossroads to a successful customer experience

5 Ways to Create In-Store Experiences That Drive Traffic and Sales

5 Ways to Create In-Store Experiences That Drive Traffic and Sales

In light of the new year, here’s one question you should think about: are you planning to bring anything new to the in-store experience? If your answer is “no” then 2017 could be a rough one for your physical stores.

Some of the biggest that challenges you’ll face in 2017 will be around driving foot traffic and keeping shoppers engaged in your store. Why? Because competition in the retail industry is fiercer than ever. Between ecommerce sites and subscription services, consumers have plenty of choices when it comes to where they spend their time and money.

To stay competitive, you need to give them compelling reasons to come down to your store and shop.

Looking for ways to do just that? Below are 5 tips and examples to get you started.

1. Make sure your physical and digital stores work together

If you have an online store (and you totally should), see to it that your ecommerce site works hand in hand with your physical location(s). Remember, modern consumers are using multiple channels and devices in their shopping journeys. Aside from shopping in-store, they’re using their phones, computers, and tablets to research and buy products.

For this reason, it’s important to not just have a presence on different channels, but you need to enable customers to shop across physical and digital channels seamlessly. Here’s how:

Implement click-and-collect

Click-and-collect, a service that lets shopper buy online and pick-up in-store isn’t just convenient for customers, but it also drives traffic and sales in your physical stores. This past holiday season is a testament to that, with nearly a third of shoppers opting for in-store pickup. Not only that but according to the ICSC, 69 percent of shoppers who went in-store to pick up their orders ended up buying additional items.

So how exactly can you implement click-and-collect? The first step is to have a centralized retail solution that lets you manage orders, sales, and customers from one system. Or, if you have separate systems for your physical and digital stores, then you need to find a way to integrate the two programs.

Whatever the case, talk to you solutions provider and ask them about their omnichannel retail offerings.

Vend tip

screenshot-2017-01-09-22-04-17We’ve released a range of improvements and new features — including click-and-collect — in Vend over the past year. NRF is the perfect opportunity to experience this for yourself and get all your Vend-related questions answered. We’d love to meet you!

You can find us during the show at our partner booths — Star Micronics (booth # 3731) and SpacePole (booth # 1413), or if you’d like to book a meeting in advance you can do so right now.

Interested in attending NRF but haven’t registered? If you’re a retailer, you can grab your free tickets at he EXPO Hall. Want to attend as a non-retailer? Register and use the discount code “BIGSocial20” for 20% off your ticket!

Hope to see you there!

Bring your website in-store

Consider enhancing the brick-and-mortar experience by allowing shoppers to browse your online shop in your physical location. This can be a great offering, especially if you have multiple stores or warehouses and don’t carry all your stock in one place.

Enabling people to browse your ecommerce site in-store lets them see products or variants that you may not have on-site. If they see something they like, you can just have your associates place an order for them and ship it to their home.

nike2

Have a look at what Nike is doing. In some of its stores, the sportswear retailer has large touch-screens so customers can browse Nike.com and order products on the spot.

2. Redefine the checkout experience

Long lines at checkout are big a turn-off and can result in customers abandoning their purchases. Research has found that Americans will abandon a checkout line and leave a store without making a purchase after eight minutes of waiting in a checkout line. British shoppers won’t even wait around that long. They’ll walk out after just six minutes.”

Don’t let long lines affect your bottom line. If you’re dealing with lengthy queues at checkout, take immediate steps to speed things up. Below are a few suggestions:

Always be ready with additional registers 

Are long lines slowing you down? Open new registers and make sure you always have enough cashiers on staff to serve shoppers.

To make things even easier, consider using iPads as your POS systems. That’s how The Borough Kitchen (a homeware retailer) combats long lines in-store. “At peak times…we can add a new till instantly by switching on another iPad. That just wouldn’t work with a traditional till system,” says founders David Caldana & Justin Kowbel.

Another benefit of using an iPad is that it lets you untether the checkout process. Rather than being stuck behind the cash wrap, you can quickly take the checkout process to the customer and ring up sales from anywhere in the store.

Consider in-app checkout

Looking for a more innovative and tech-forward way to combat long checkout lines? Have a look at what Sam’s Club is doing.

screenshot-2016-12-30-10-30-02

The warehouse store has a mobile app called Scan and Go which lets customers scan and pay for their purchases within the app itself. All they need to do is use their phone’s camera to scan product barcodes, pay for their purchases using the Scan and Go app, and show their e-receipt to a Sam’s Club associate on their way out.

No doubt this the app makes shopping easy and convenient, and it hints at what the future of in-store checkout might look like. Granted, this solution isn’t right for every retailer (especially if you don’t have a mobile app or an active user base) but it’s worth keeping on your radar.

3. Provide “retailtainment.”

As we mentioned in our 2017 Retail Trends and Predictions report, we’re expecting “retailtainment” to pervade the industry. Retailtainment, as the name suggests, is the fusion of retail and entertainment — an effort on the part of retailers to provide customers with fun, unique experiences that elevate shopping above anything it’s previously been.

What kind of retailtainment should you offer? That depends on your store and customers. In some cases, bringing in celebrities or industry professionals could do the trick.

Last year, for example, Walmart stores in Little Rock Arkansas brought in professional bullfighters to sign autographs in-store. The stunt not only attracted a ton of foot traffic, but it got Walmart plenty of coverage from the local press.

Retailtainment could also mean giving people something they don’t see every day. Consider what clothing store New York & Co. did. In 2015, the NY&C store in Cerritos, California used real people instead of mannequins in their window displays.

The attraction got passers-by to stop and actually check out the store, because, let’s face it, how often do you see real-life “mannequins”?

4. Promote a sense of Community

If it makes sense for your business and customers, find ways to bring people together in your store. Invite customers and community members to events where they can learn new things, interact with like-minded individuals, or simply get a break from staring at their computer or phone all day.

A great example of a retailer that’s mastered community building is The Workroom, a craft store in Toronto. In addition to selling fabric and other supplies, The Workroom also holds sewing classes and workshops. These events instill a sense of community in people and they’re one of the reasons why shoppers keep coming back.

“One of the biggest things for me was the community aspect,” says owner Karyn Valino. “[I wanted to have] a place where people who are crafty can meet other people and be surrounded by stuff that inspires them.”

Do note that building a community isn’t just about holding events. Community building requires cultivating real relationships with customers and communicating with them on a regular basis.

At The Workroom, Karyn says they gather information from customers who purchase their products and attend their events. They also send newsletters regularly to keep people in the loop and to gather feedback.

According to Karyn, doing these things helped her get to know customers better. “It really helps to have such a close relationship with my customers. I know exactly what they like, and because of that, I’m able to make more educated decisions regarding purchasing, planning classes, and testing new ideas.

5. Create immersive experiences

Want your store to attract shoppers and make a long-lasting impression? Create a store environment that envelops customers and grabs their full attention.

Some retailers are doing this through technology. Shoe retailer TOMS, for instance, deployed virtual reality (VR) headsets in 100 of its stores to enable shoppers to experience the brand in an entirely unique way.

TOMS’ in-store VR program allowed customers to take a virtual trip to Peru where they would get to see the company’s One for One giving campaign in action. In doing so, TOMS wasn’t just able to drive awareness towards its charitable efforts, but it also gave people a brand experience they won’t soon forget.

Another retailer doing a great job with immersive experiences is IKEA. Last year, the homeware retailer opened The Dining Club, a temporary pop-up store in which guests were given a chance to run their own restaurant.

According to Ikea,”diners will orchestrate an intimate foodie experience in a homely kitchen environment to mimic an actual dinner party, but one where diners can host many more guests than usual.”

Guests are taken into The Dining Club where they cooked meals and entertained friends. It was a whole new experience that allowed them to enjoy good food and company (while being surrounded by IKEA products at the same time).

Make 2017 the year you reinvent the in-store experience

As you kick off the new year, resolve to enhance the in-store experience. Ask yourself — or even better, ask your customers — what would make shoppers come into your stores? Do you need to offer omnichannel services? Should you work on community building? The only way to find out is to get to know your customers and try new things.

Will it be easy? Not likely. But doing so is critical if you want to thrive 2017 and beyond.

This article was original published in

5 Ways to Create In-Store Experiences That Drive Traffic and Sales

Digitize The Physical To Win At Business

Digitize The Physical To Win At Business

Should we even call anything “digital” anymore?

Senior marketing professionals love writing op-ed pieces calling for the death of using the word “digital” in front of anything. “Let’s not call it Digital Marketing anymore.” The sentiment is a pragmatic one: “everything is digital!” The sentiment is a romantic one: “we’re not doing it, but if we kill that saying, we can claim that we do it all.” It’s a smart play. Brands do believe that a strong marketing agency should have strong digital marketing chops. As much as specialized shops continue to grow and be acquired, clients would much prefer one centralized agency (full-service much?). And, the battle rages on between specialized shops and full-service agencies. It’s clear where my heart lies: I believe in digital. I believe that full-service is a hard promise to deliver on. The battle rages on.

But what about brands? How should brands think about their physical products and services as digital channels persist?

For years (and this ideology was a cornerstone of the thinking in my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, from 2013), I have been saying that one of the biggest missed opportunity for brands today is the shift away from an advertising-driven marketing mindset to a digital product/service-driven marketing mindset. Instead of advertising to consumers, create digital products, services, applications and tools that can add value to your consumer’s experiences. An app that is so valuable that a consumer would download it, use it (with frequency), have it on their smartphone homescreen and tell others about it. It’s a tall order. It’s not obvious. It’s an opportunity. This thinking can be extended. Let’s say that you’re a retail brand. Why just sell physical goods online? Why not create digital assets that you can sell as well? Why would a major department store not sell digital goods and digital subscription services online as well?

Every move Amazon makes.

There is no doubt that Amazon does a lot of this right. They are digital, but will launch physical stores. They are digital, but will launch a POS system to bridge that and remove friction at the retail level. With that, have you seen their Dash buttons? When launched, everyone thought it was some kind of April Fool’s joke. Amazon Dash Buttons are physical buttons (hardware) that consumers can place all over their home/office. Dash buttons allow customers to reorder an individual product that they are running out of (Laundry detergent woes? Place a Tide button next to your machine. No more condoms? Place a Trojan button in the top drawer of your night-table. Need more snacks? Place a Slim Jim button in the kitchen pantry). Since launching in 2015, over 200 brands are available, and consumer are using it.

Digitize the physical.

While it may seem obvious, Amazon is now testing a digital version of the Dash button. The buttons are customizable. They can be re-arranged. They can appear in both the Web and mobile versions of Amazon. They can be created automatically by Amazon, based on what the consumer orders on a more frequent basis, and added to the customization view. These virtual Dash buttons could be created for millions of products on the fly. Dash buttons could even be created as an option during the check-out phase. Think about a dedicated Amazon Dash button dashboard — as a homescreen default. In theory, these could prove to be so successful that it might force them to stop developing the physical Dash button program. Amazon is thinking — deeply — about how to digitize physical products and services to increase their business, loyalty and service to their customers.

What this does?

  • They make it easier to buy from Amazon.
  • They make it easier for repurchases.
  • They remove all friction.
  • They remove the need for shopping lists or stressing over the day-to-day items to run our households and offices.
  • They encourage impulse buys.
  • They make it work through customization and merging both consumer behavior with their own knowledge of purchases.
  • They will use this to encourage more usage of their Subscribe & Save model.
  • They grab a consumer’s attention.
  • They are an engine of branding for the brands that are taking part (they look like little action-oriented banner ads).

It’s not just for Amazon. It’s for your brand too. Digitize your physical goods to win more at marketing.

This article was originally published on https://medium.com/@mitchjoel/digitize-the-physical-to-win-at-business-7fe1b493d2ec#.1x4fdm3w7

Why Developing a ‘Near Me’ Strategy Has Become Critical for Local Marketers

If marketers have anything to learn from 2016, it’s this: Mobile is no longer just an important or necessary element of a marketing strategy, it’s vital for the livelihood and existence of a brand. It has led to a critical shift in shopper behavior that brand marketers are rushing to understand and adapt their digital marketing strategies to.

In many ways, mobile has revolutionized how today’s shoppers research products, differentiate pricing and promotions and ultimately, where they make a purchase. Due to the rise in shoppers’ adoption and use of mobile devices, one trend that has exploded in the past two years is the local-first thinking of high-intent shoppers. In particular, use of “near me” in search queries and the integration of ads with mobile map services is changing the way brands market their products and build their digital marketing campaigns.

Shoppers increasingly use “near me” as a way to locate products or services in their neighborhood. In fact, by the end of last year, use of “near me” in search increased 130 percent. So it’s not just a trend; it’s a part of the modern customer journey. It’s up to brand marketers now to address the “near me” opportunity by building a robust omnichannel strategy that drives high-intent shoppers towards local stores.

Local Becomes New Again
Historically, shoppers have turned to traditional advertising – like print ads or circulars – to learn which local store(s) were offering promotions on the products they wanted to purchase. Although some have predicted the demise of the local store due to the rise in e-commerce transactions, research shows that high-intent shoppers still favor their brick-and-mortar store.

Pew Research recently found that 64 percent of Americans prefer buying from brick-and-mortar stores because a majority says it’s important for them to try a product in-person. While shoppers’ local intent is exceptionally high, the challenge for marketers in 2017 is building connected marketing campaigns that incite a shopper to visit a local store after seeing an ad online — better known as “click to brick.” To accommodate for this, marketers must work more closely with their local partners. Today, more than half of “near me” searches result in a store visit, but alarmingly research reveals that nearly all brand relationships with their local counterparts is “hit or miss.”

Marketers must modify their strategies to keep pace with the burgeoning opportunity in local markets that has stemmed from the advent of mobile devices and search. The importance of driving high-intent shoppers from online to in-store has never been greater and will be essential for meeting sales goals. This starts by building an impactful omnichannel marketing strategy that includes and addresses the local-intent of modern shoppers.

The Rise in “Near Me”
The rise in “near me” searches is an evolution in the customer journey and one brands need to pay attention to as it signals the enduring importance of local marketing. In fact, research shows that four out of five U.S. shoppers now want advertising or search results to be tailored to their local market.

To help address this market demand, advertising giants Google and Facebook have optimized their platform for local marketing integration. To start, Google Search now autocompletes the phrase “near me” on both mobile and desktop devices, making it easier than ever to find a product or service in a shopper’s local neighborhood. The marketing world was introduced to promoted pins and ads in map services from Google and Facebook in mid-2016, further evidence that the industry is working feverishly to address the burgeoning local marketing opportunity. As these tools are designed to point shoppers to local stores, brands need to do their part in strengthening their relationships with local partners to ensure messages and promotions are consistent for shoppers who increasingly are being driven from click to brick.

How to Make Local a Priority (Again)
With local searches growing 50 percent faster than all mobile searches, it’s time for brands to wake up and embrace local as not just any channel, but the lifeblood of their sales cycle. While $70 billion is invested annually in marketing efforts to help improve local execution, nearly $15 billion goes wasted, suggesting that issues still remain.

One of the more alarming statistics to see in 2017 is that more than one-third of businesses admit that they still don’t have a mobile-friendly website. Due to changes in Google’s search universe, websites that are not mobile-friendly are deprioritized and become harder to find in search. This is a death knell for local businesses that rely on “near me” searches as a way to drive traffic, and sales, to their store.

Underscoring the complexities of the brand-local relationship is an inherent mistrust by brand marketers in their local partners, particularly as it relates to mobile. In fact, 97% say they don’t think their local partners are ready to market to mobile shoppers. However, by not working closely with their local partners, brands are cannibalizing their resources by creating one-size-fits-all campaigns that lack personalization and regional-specific messages.

One of the ways brands can support their local partners and ensure they’re being found in critical local searches is by ensuring the business name, address and phone number (NAP) are displayed prominently on each website in an easy-to-index format. This is a critical adjustment all businesses must make to ensure they’re being found in local searches – particularly “near me” searches which scan and identify NAP to help return relevant results.

Brand marketers should begin learning about and perhaps even experimenting with tools from Facebook and Google that enable promoted pins or ads in map services. In some cases, a marketer may even be able to include local product inventory or promotions as part of this content, which helps drive in-store foot traffic and conversions. Embracing these tools at their advent will put marketers in a more advantageous position to outpace their competition and win over critical local sales in the future.

Despite all the hype about e-commerce and the shifting retail landscape, more than 90 percent of sales in 2016 occurred in a brick-and-mortar store, evidence that marketers cannot afford to pour their budgets into solutions that solely address digital channels. Neglecting local – or the behaviors that drive local purchases – will doom brands. Instead, it’s time to think critically about connecting diverse channels and delivering high-intent shoppers seamless, cross-channel experiences that match their increasingly complex path to purchase.

This article was originally published on http://streetfightmag.com/2017/01/25/why-developing-a-near-me-strategy-has-become-critical-for-local-marketers/

Shoppers now expect personalisation to extend to the store: study

Shoppers getting used to convenience and personalisation online now expect those qualities to extend to the store, a new study suggests.

Research for the iVend Retail report, Omni Progress: Are stores getting better at delivering connected retail experiences?, was carried out last year. It found that twice as many consumers (27%) expected online personalisation to be mirrored in the physical environment in 2016 than did the previous year (13%).

National Retail Federation Influencer On 6 Things Retail Is Doing Right (And Wrong)

Ask global retail consultant Wendy Liebmann to name the retail industry’s person of the year, and she’ll say it’s the one holding the credit card.

Retail is shifting to a shopper-based model, the way she sees it. And those merchants that cling to the retail-based model of operations and efficiencies not only fail to view their stores from the eyes of their customers; they risk not seeing any customers at all.

“The reality is when people have so many places to shop, retailers cannot afford to just look at themselves in the mirror,” said Liebmann, founder and CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, a global retail consultancy. “They really have to build their proposition around: ‘What does that person who buys from me want from me?’”

She provided a familiar example — the placement of milk at the supermarket. By tradition, it sits in the farthest corner of the store so shoppers are forced to pass through several product-laden aisles. “The last thing the mother wants to do with two kids, one screaming, is walk to the back of the store,” said Liebmann, who was named one of the five retail influencers of 2017 by the National Retail Federation.

Fortunately for that mother, there are other options. She can quickly grab milk at the gas station or drugstore. Translation: Retailers can no longer get away with the model upon which they built their empires.

Those Who Put Shoppers First Win

Headlines about store closings and operational changes make this evident. In many ways, what will separate the retail victors from the others comes down to a few key practices. Liebmann categorizes them under three activities retailers are doing right, and three they are still doing wrong.

3 Things Retailers Are Doing Right Today

  1. Putting away the operational mirror: Retailers that stop examining their own needs and instead view their business through the lens of their shoppers will pull ahead, Liebmann said. They do so by determining how their retail proposition is meeting the needs of the shopper, rather than how it fulfills their own operational needs. In short: They think about the shopper’s life first and foremost, and then apply that to the operational model.
  2. Removing the seams: This means connecting with shoppers in every way shoppers want. The known term is omnichannel, and it requires a great deal of agility. Good retailers cater to the consumer, whether she wants to visit the store, shop online or order first and pick up curbside. “If you don’t allow her to shop at 11 o’clock at night when the kids have gone to bed, that can be the point at which she chooses another merchant,” Liebmann said. “Before there were all these choices, this didn’t matter. The power was in the hands of the retailers and the brands.”
  3. Investing in people: A key to retail success is ensuring the best-suited staff is appointed for each customer touch point — physically, by chat or online. “That personal connection … that’s the hidden juice that makes [retail brands] really successful,” Liebmann said. For example, Costco supports the notion that even in a big-box store with cement floors, the power of personal interactions resonates, from the way the shelves are stocked to checkout.

3 Things Retailers Are (Still) Doing Wrong

  1. Store-ied history: Many retailers still make the mistake of thinking retail is a real estate game, when new stores are no longer necessary for growth. The fact is there are too many stores, as The Limited made clear by recently announcing it would shutter all 250 locations and operate online only. “I remember when we were talking about the ‘Gapification’ of America,” Liebmann said. “All of a sudden it was like the commodification of retail. Obviously digital is a great way to reach people without having to open more real estate.”
  2. Placing efficiency above necessity: While retail does require efficient operations, merchants should not focus solely on being efficient operators. “If all I’m doing is saying my [profit and loss statement] is about putting the merchandise where it is most efficient for me so it can be restocked and rehung, and having so many registers open or so many staff [members] on the floor at some times of the day because it is more efficient to me, then I lose today,” she said. Thanksgiving Day sales are a good example, because they don’t actually address an expressed customer need.
  3. Not breathing humanity into digital: Online interactions should be as human as those that occur in the store. Unfortunately, Liebmann said, some retailers still think they can get digital right with far too few people. But why? Online employees are still expected to answer questions and fulfill orders. She pointed to the Zappos.com model of giving its staff the training and freedom necessary to talk to customers as long as needed. In return, it gets a lot of unconditional loyalty. “You are investing in happiness, but really you are investing in the people you have,” she said.

And when it comes down to what shoppers really want in these post-recession years, it is happiness, Liebmann said.

“We’re seeing this very different kind of yearning — for stability, less stress, greater well-being,” she said. “The competitive environment has changed. It’s not just about the other guy selling things against you; it’s about the other guy selling this set of values.”

This article was originally posted on http://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanpearson/2017/01/18/national-retail-federation-influencer-on-6-things-retail-is-doing-right-and-wrong/#537e48ec5657