If you are not ready for Web2.0, too bad. Your competitors and your customers are already going there.
Young homebuyers are starting to ask homebuilders to delete the traditional 30” range and fill in with cabinets. They are choosing instead to install convection ovens to align with their lifestyles surrounding pre-prepared whole meals
Young millennials in Japan are not choosing to get their drivers licences as they can achieve a level of closeness with their friends using social media, mobile connectivity and instant messaging. This is making automotive manufacturers increasing worried about being marginalized
Shopping is quickly changing from a task to a form “social entertainment” with recommendations and affinity programs that leverage personal buying habits with extended groups of friends
Competitors are already taking advantage of these trends and introducing new ways to leverage their programs and communication with customers
There is a need to understand the brand attributes and the associations that these attributes have for the customers.
Today’s customers are better informed and accustomed to a more interactive experience with products and services, leading to a greater engagement with brands.
These interactions are taking place over longer periods so there is a need to measure brand engagement in different ways than simply conversion or pageviews.
It becomes increasingly important to value customer engagement over time and realize that the brand relationship is multi-faceted.
“ Brand is not what you say it is, it’s what the customer says it is.” - Marty Neumeier Brand engagement in Web2.0 takes place over a longer period with a more interactive experience, so traditional metrics will not give the whole picture
A deep understanding of Customer needs forms the basis of rich engagement with empowered customers
Customer focus and needs understanding are the key. Initial questions:
Why do customers visit your site in the first place?
Are they Web2.0-savvy?
Do they use social networking sites like Facebook?
Are customers creating or interacting with user-generated content?
Are they engaged with your other channels?
Do they read and comment on blogs?
Are they inclined to share their comments in user reviews?
Is the user base “Change Adverse?” If they are comfortable with change (and applications or widgets) that operate differently than they are used to, they might be more accommodating of these types of technologies.
New understanding of Customer needs for these highly influential customers forms the foundation to communicate with a broader audience
Does your site speak the same language as customers (or buyer personas) do when talking about how they use products?
Instead of talking features, features, features, investigate creating content that customers really find useful and want to share with their friends.
Web2.0 has extended word of mouth to the point that relatively few influential individuals can influence a large number of customers.
New ethnographic techniques are available and provide a rich interactive method to increase customer understanding.
“ One of the key discoveries that OXO made when they went out into the field to observe how their existing product was being used was the fact that almost all users added some ingredient to the measuring cup, stopped to view the cup from the side to determine if they needed to add more or remove excess that they had erroneously added … Only by observing the usage of the measuring cup in the real world was OXO able to uncover this hidden design flaw “ – Ivan Chalif
Understanding how customers are using existing products and observing them at home will really get a sense of whether they are using it as the product managers intended.
This understanding allows us to move to where the customer is going to be by helping to solve problems they may not know they currently have.
There may also be an opportunity to test a new prototype with the group.
Seeing how customers are using your current offerings or problems they have, can give clues to how to develop breakthrough products
“ The role of senior management was to provide the support for this to continue and then get out of the way. Executives cannot mandate successful adoption of Web 2.0 technologies. Their role is to supply permission and resources—and set the boundaries—and [then] let intelligent and motivated teams run with this.” - Jacques Bughin, McKinsey Consulting
A Web2.0-enabled strategy for engaging customers requires more than simply updating content on your site.
It requires dedicated internal resources to interact in an honest and credible manner with customers who have legitimate concerns and questions.
Trust in the brand message enables conversations to take place without direct contributions from the company, yet this is where the most “currency” originates.
Developing high-level internal support and dedicated resources to interact with customers contributes to a winning strategy
“Consumers are taking their lives online through blogs and social networks, and by creating video content. The comfort and expectations—as well as the hunger—they have for new and innovative applications and interactions on the web will push consumer-oriented enterprises to build new platforms that utilize consumer feedback mechanisms, build better reputations for partners online and speak to customers in a much more collaborative fashion”- Jennifer Simpson, Yankee Group
With Web2.0, the consumer is in control- they have a myriad of options and can express themselves in a variety of ways: blogs, video (YouTube), podcasts etc., all quickly and freely.
It’s about the users – the “social web”.
Data is not confined to one site – it can be shared, aggregated and syndicated. The challenge is to get it out there for people to use! Let the customers do your work.
Rich interface – AJAX and other scripting technologies can enable the browser to behave like an application container and enable the interactivity users are looking for.
Iterative development can work – Don’t be afraid to try new things… just keep the user in mind.
Web2.0 sees customers with many options and ways to satisfy their needs quickly and easily
Web2.0 technologies are enablers for content creation, interaction and consumer control over their experience
These technologies enable:
Customers to create content
Customers to interact with each other and your brand
Customers to control their experience with rich interactive applications.
Each of these must be balanced with regard to customer needs and business objectives.
They share common characteristics in that new measurement strategies and metrics need to be applied to understand the whole picture of customer engagement.
“60% of advocates believe that good brands are worth talking about, versus 25% of non-advocates. Advocates spend their time promoting a brand more often than negating it, and approximately 90% will write something positive about a purchase they made.” -Edwin Wong , Yahoo
In a recent study, Yahoo! defined a group of people known as “ brand advocates ,” who are typically:
Well-connected consumers with a larger sphere of influence
Avid researchers who consider multiple brands, making them more open to dialogue with marketers
Committed to a brand once they purchase
Likely to recommend brands, and who tend to talk about positive experiences
Opinion leaders—influencing other people’s purchase decisions.
In fact, more than half of all advocates speak to their friends, family and strangers through a variety of online channels post-purchase. Only 20% of other consumers do so.
Yahoo! study identified customers that contribute content as high-value segment
“ Customers are changing too fast, they have seemingly unlimited choice, and, to borrow a phrase, they want what they want…It's now a two-way conversation. Listen, respond, and talk intelligently.” George Colony, Forrester Research
“ Getting ratings and reviews up was one of the most strategic and impactful initiatives of 2006. Receiving direct feedback from our customers allows us to create better products and modify existing ones. With our current vendor, we have a great partner to help us open up this dialogue with our consumers." Elizabeth Margles, Vice President Public Relations, Loblaw Companies Ltd.
Trust is key- it becomes a new currency in this world of interchangeable options. Who do consumers trust? A corporation (maybe?) or a person like themselves (a community of peers with common interests).
Old metrics aren’t as relevant in this medium. Credibility comes from not only your product, but who is talking about it and of course their interpretation of your brand.
Trust and credibility are critical in establishing a lasting engagement with the new breed of Web2.0 savvy customers
P&G began developing Vocalpoint to market directly to moms, which it defines as women with children ages 19 or under. They enlisted an army of 600,000 ‘connectors’ in their ‘campaign. These ‘connectors’ were provided with coupons and free samples to spread the word about P & G products.
P&G concentrates on finding women who have large social networks . Vocalpoint moms, who range in age from 28 to 45, generally speak to about 25 to 30 other women during the day, where an average mom speaks to just five. P&G has found many of these connectors on the Internet with banner ads on sites such as iVilllage.com
“We know that the most important form of marketing is an advocacy message from a trusted friend.” Steve Knox, Vocalpoint CEO Proctor and Gamble Vocalpoint markets directly to 600,000 “Connector” moms who are more social than average
Vocalpoint's allure to women goes beyond the steady stream of product samples they receive. They get the satisfaction that someone is listening .
Vocalpoint does this via a weekly e-mail newsletter it sends to connectors called The Inside Track . A recent edition asks for the women's opinions on everything from the design of the newsletter itself to express mail options.
Where P&G has made the greatest gain since starting the initiative is in understanding how to make word-of-mouth marketing more predictable. Usually, P & G contends, it creates buzz with little control over influencing product sales. The solution to this problem: finding a strong reason why a connector would want to share product information with a friend.
Vocalpoint participants get "a voice that is going to be heard by other companies ," Steve Knox, Vocalpoint CEO . "We do tremendous research behind it to find the reason to care,“ says Knox. Proctor and Gamble Vocalpoint gives women reason to share through understanding their needs
The message is always different from the one P&G uses in traditional media. In traditional ads for Dawn Direct Foam, for instance, P&G stressed its grease-cutting power. However, Vocalpoint moms were mailed packages showing the detergent and a smiling girl on the outside with these words in big letters: "Mom, can I help?"
A pamphlet inside explained that the soap is so fun to use that kids would want to help out with the dishes. To reinforce the point, the package included a little sponge in the shape of a child's foot, plus a dozen $1.50 coupons.
Deep understanding of their needs allows message to resonate with these moms and gives them reason to share message with others.
"We have to enable a conversation to take place. Kids not doing enough chores is a conversation taking place among moms." Steve Knox, Vocalpoint CEO A different marketing message than traditional media responds directly to conversations taking place between moms in the group
The buzz around the campaign may explain the explosive sales results in the three test markets.
Dawn unit sales in those locations were double those of markets without a Vocalpoint effort. And sales for the Vocalpoint campaign from July 2005 on Febreze Air Effects were 17% higher.
P & G is clearly looking to apply the philosophy of engagement to their sites. Their strategy is to provide content of value to their customers to develop trust and confidence. Visitors are then more likely to want a relationship with the brand and become customers.
"There are a lot of women (at work) who have kids." "We were all interested,” says one Vocalpoint participant discussing relevance of Dawn campaign Participants responded well to a different message which spoke to them about issues they cared about
P&G developed their strategy with five key tactics:
Made it worthwhile for customers
They offer product samples and a sense of empowerment. Both make customers feel like “VIPs.”
Invited customers at several levels
P&G looked at all touch-points and tailored invites to customers at appropriate point. (e.g. after feedback request).
Gave customers message worth sharing
With an understanding of needs and language, P&G crafted messages that were easy for customers to share with friends.
Stayed in touch regularly
They didn’t make it a one-off event but kept in touch to build credibility with the customers.
Listened to customers and implemented feedback
They listened and learned from customers, then put those ideas into the products further reinforcing credibility and the 2-way feedback loop.
Proctor and Gamble looked holistically at the issue of engagement and developed an overall strategy, both internally and externally
“ Communicating to a small but powerful group of fans first online to enlist their support is a smart way to ensure positive coverage in the mainstream press. The power of the Internet makes it easier for people to fall in love with you faster. But beware—it also makes it easier for them to fall out of love with you faster. It’s a double-edged sword. Listen constantly to what’s being said about you. Social media technologies do not make a brand viral; they merely allow consumers to tell others about good brands. The main thing is to be different and relevant with your brand. And when you have that, the sheer power of the Internet can accelerate your brand.” – Cindy Gordon, VP New Partnerships, Universal Orlando
Acknowledging the world-wide popularity of Harry Potter, the executive in charge, Cindy Gordon, realized that by telling the news of the launch of a new theme park attraction to a select group of seven influential bloggers she could generate more publicity than a series of press releases or ads.
The seven were invited to a top-secret webcast where details of the new attractions were unveiled by the movies set designers and directors.
The team also sent emails to their opt-in list of park guests and friends and family as well.
The team was able to run this initiative in-house, with a relatively small budget and turn the influential seven bloggers into an estimated audience for their message of 350 million people!
Universal Studios was able to create massive awareness by leveraging the blogging world to talk about their initiative
“Everything we did to announce and promote the new theme park within a theme park had to be authentic to Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s vision,” recalls Gordon
The Web2.0 world can be highly influential if you know who influences the silent majority.
In order to determine which bloggers were most inclined to write about the initiative, they visited technorati.com and searched specific blogger topics to find the most likely candidates.
Unlike traditional media, a relatively small investment paid off with high reach and wide awareness of the message.
They presented their ideas in a creative way that people wanted to share with their friends, colleagues, and family members.
Lessons from Universal Studios and Harry Potter
“…a fantastic example of product awareness through unobtrusive social media.”- Digital Influence Group It’s the online equivalent of a platinum hit, seeping from one computer to the next like a virus. Charles McGrath- New York Times
After Matt Harding uploaded his first video of his “strangely awkward” dancing in various locations around the world, the agency for Stride gum got a hold of the idea to underwrite his travels for a subsequent video to be posted on YouTube.
Harding, they believed, reached their target audience of web-savvy 18-24 year olds, and his marathon global shuffle tied in with the product's marketing hook of "ridiculously long-lasting flavour”.
Most users like the “unplanned, joyous” nature of the video and it quickly spread to other users; the video has 10.6MM views to date and over 28,000 comments on YouTube.
Stride has received countless mentions in press and comments for a relatively small, yet strategically insightful initiative.
Users can follow along on Harding’s site: wherethehellismatt.com.
Stride Gum by Cadbury Schwepps found Matt Harding and his dance to be an unobtrusive social media declaration for their brand
Lessons from Stride Gum and wherethehellismatt.com
There are opportunities to build a “brand halo” by associating with a person, event or thing; it just has to be carefully assessed to align with the brand attributes.
Many of Harding's viewers say it's his be-speckled, innocent abroad image that they connect with — an un-commercial exuberance that could have been lost in a slick, overproduced package. Cadbury Schwepps promised to be hands-off to avoid the risk of seeming contrived, and this boosted the credibility of the initiative with the target audience.
Brand recognition has increased due to exposure but will have to maintain momentum with other initiatives.
“We posted on this a while back and wondered when you folks were going to join the conversation. And now here you are, blogging about it. I almost never thought I'd see the day.“ -Customer comment on Direct2Dell blog.
Dell was confronted in 2006 with customer comments on their recently created product idea blog IdeaStorm, that several laptops had caught on fire just prior to the incidents reaching the public.
IdeaStorm’s main goal was to gather from the public ideas and commentary around Dell’s products with ratings and reviews on postings by the community, but it was being used in this context to provide a forum for users to vent.
Dell had several “traditional” options involving some measure of PR, but they chose to actually blog and say they were investigating the issue, which built a great deal of credibility in this very Web2.0 savvy community.
Direct2dell and the challenge of credibility
“ At our worst point, almost 50% of the commentary was negative. That made it easy for us to decide to jump in. These negative conversations were happening with or without us, and it was pretty clear we had a better chance if we entered those negative discussions. Today, we're seeing about 23% negative. While that's moving in the right direction, there's plenty of progress to be made.” -Lionel Menchaca, Chief Blogger, Dell “A case study for how powerful blogging and wider engagement with social media can be: it is a challenge to anyone and everyone to embrace new models of brand communications. “ -Antony Mayfield
Supported blogging from a high level in the company.
Appointed a dedicated “Chief Blogger” whose job it was to post and interact.
Having a dedicated person put a human face on the company’s response, and customers likely were more empathetic and less hostile.
Acknowledged that the “customer was in control” – and that was OK.
Aware that they are still learning and that there was no way to learn without going out and doing it.
Lessons from Direct2dell and the challenge of credibility
There are several opportunities to leverage Web2.0 in increasing customer engagement
Brand build with widgets
Key method as traditional web audience fragments.
Social Media and content creation
Blogs and true two-way conversations enrich the dialog about the brand.
Customer Acquisition / Revenue Generation
Lower costs than other media and less ephemeral.
All of these techniques build on the essential foundations of customer understanding and a clear view on success criteria.
TripAdvisor built the “Cities I’ve Visited” application in 2 days, and received 5 million downloads and 70,000 daily users.
As web audience fragments, non-traditional media such as “widgets” and applications [e.g. applications on Facebook] become key methods to engage customers.
A Web widget is a small, self-contained module or piece of content that an Internet user can place on his or her social networking profile page, blog, Internet start page or Web site. In many cases a widget looks like a small box or window.
A key feature of a widget is that other people can “grab” the widget from wherever they see it and install it on their own page, often with one click. This feature enables the widget to spread virally.
Widgets give the customer ultimate control because customers can decide what content they interact with since widgets are self-selected. In fact, as customers assemble more and more widgets to interact with their content, the traditional notion of the “home page” is now being disrupted.
Brand building with Web2.0 widgets and applications is a key part of strategy as web audience fragments from traditional high-traffic sites such as portals
Social Media and content creation creates engagement with high-value customers and opportunities to reinforce brand experience
There are various methods that increase engagement since customers interact with content in various programs online and offline.
User-generated content commonly refers to videos and blogs, but also can encompass user reviews and feedback.
It is important to keep in mind that this content may or may not take place within the boundaries of the current properties: blog commentary and video responses particularly can be posted to sites such as consumerist.com.
Utilizing user reviews (particularly in emails) can increase brand engagement as customers are driven back to the online experience.
It also drives traffic to sites from search engines since increased page content drives up search rankings.
Consumers who provide this content represent a high-value segment and giving them a forum to contribute allows the opportunity to segment, identify and treat them according to the increased value they provide.
Direct acquisition and revenue generation stem from allowing new means of reaching customers and can drive engagement
RSS* feeds are gaining in popularity and some companies are using them as an alternative to email for products pushes to customers.
Many content-driven sites use these feeds to get content to where customers will want to interact.
Other companies such as Circuit City are using RSS to push promotions to loyal customers.
Podcasts (audio, either live or pre-recorded) are another way to reach customers that gives customers opportunities to interact with content either on the desktop or even on a mobile device.
This content help users engage, build trust and put a more personal and accessible face on the brand, helping to drive positive association.
Other ways to leverage podcasts involve seeking out podcasts relative to the product or service, and looking for affiliation/ branding opportunities within the content stream.
* RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, a way to format content so it is usable on other sites that follow this standard
Have your competitors used Web2.0 programs in their customer engagement strategy?
Are you comfortable having customers talk about your brand on other sites?
Do you know how your customers purchase and use your products on a day-to-day basis?
With customers rapidly becoming more sophisticated, can you keep up with how their needs are changing ?
Can you devote internal resources to engaging customers in an honest discussion about your brand and products, not only on your site but on others?
In measuring your program’s effectiveness, can you go beyond click-throughs and impressions?
If the answer to these questions is yes , you should think of how to embrace Web2.0; it is not going away, and more and more customers are adapting their behaviours and expectations in terms of how they interact with brands.