The action of creating positive interconnected digital brand experiences enhances all areas of a company’s performance, so how do we actually do it?
How do brands identify a best-fit approach to digital brand experience?
Like any new marketing venture, a few core brand-driven questions must be approached at the beginning of exploring a new path. Reviewing the Three Rocks of Interconnected Experience below, the first step is to define the User Engagement Drivers that uniquely apply to your brand.
At first glance, defining User Engagement Drivers is ‘Marketing 101’, as we’ll be using the 4 Ps (Product, Price, Promotion & Place) to identify where we can capitalize in the digital space and leverage tools to enhance our brand. Let’s quickly review each of these with an example of associated digital engagement as they might apply to companies with particular strength in each area of the marketing mix:
To define User Engagement Drivers using the marketing mix, one should look at the methods through which a customer interacts with their brand, and seek to identify to touch points that can streamline, enhance or improve upon the customer experience during these engagements.
- Promotion: Promotion is heavily geared around eliciting a customer response. Companies with strong brand loyalty and expectations will be well positioned to drive digital engagement through promotional vehicles.
Example: Victoria’s Secret has a great track record when it comes to tying promotion to its digital channels. For a 4 week period around spring break, a letter from the work ‘PINK’ was displayed in stores, which, when captured through the Victoria’s Secret App (on a user’s camera), entered them to a sweepstakes. Additionally, those who captured all four letters won a giveaway. This promotion tied VS’s digital and physical environments seamlessly, and strongly rewarded loyalty and engagement for those who participated for the entire course of the campaign.
- Product: If your product is one that lends itself to a great deal of digital interaction, this area may be strong for you.
Example: GAME, the UK video game retailer, included an Augmented Reality feature in their mobile App. This enables customers to scan their games by cover to look up information such a trade prices, but also to engage with the product dynamically through a variety of digital interactions, such as watching associated trailers.
- Place: Any business whose customer habits are heavily influenced by location and convenience will be strongly impacted by this element of the mix. For such business, convenience will likely be a strong driving factor in dictating digital engagement.
Example: When Starbucks partnered with Apple to integrate their loyalty program into Passbook, they opted for an enhanced integration, in which they provide location data for their stores so that their passes could be surfaced when users are within proximity. With this implementation, Starbucks have strongly influenced place driven digital marketing, and capitalized upon the convenience/geographic factor that strongly drives their business.
- Price: In any market that is highly price sensitive, Price will be leading factor driving digital interaction.
Example: Target, the US discount retailer, is highly affected by price competition from Walmart and other discount-retailers. Target offers customers a tool called ‘Target Lists’ integrated to its app, which enables customers to stay alert with pricing change notifications. Special offers and the ability to redeem coupons from the phone are also included.
Every brand is impacted by elements of the market mix in different ways, and it would be inaccurate to paint the picture that all companies are only influenced and driven by singular aspects of the marketing mix. However, when reviewing factors that have strong influence over consumer engagement, marketers that are well connected with their brand should be able to recognize the general importance of each element of the mix and relative impact upon customer engagement.
To present an end-to-end example of creating an Interconnected Experience utilizing digital brand proposition, lets use the an example of Starbucks. Starbucks decided to redesign the digital payment experience within their stores, and the team responsible recognized the value drivers for their customers and nuances of their product offering,using these to shape the digital brand proposition. Starbucks customers value convenience, and Starbucks also has a very high incidence of gift card transactions. Gift cards are a double edged sword. Many customers may delay a visit if they do not have a gift card on their person, so ownership of a gift card may actually encumber sales at times.
Starbucks’ solution was to focus on storage and expedited usage of digital currency through an interconnected App. The resultant experience was perfectly aligned with the brand’s value drivers. Starbucks identified their Digital Brand Proposition, creating a program that was wholly in line with customer expectations of the brand. This program dovetailed into a loyalty program, additional marketing channels through the App, and created a valuable link between gift card givers, recipients, and in-store purchases, all of which can be fed into Starbucks’ loyalty program. This solution has been further enhanced driven by convenience, a ‘Place’ factor, by integration of locations to their Starbucks’ Passbook implementation.
What’s next after identifying your Digital Brand Proposition?
At its core, the underpinning requirement to build connected experiences is very simple – You must know who you are talking to, and you must have the capability to deliver a message to that individual.
Although the statement above sounds simple, to create a seamlessly interconnected digital experience, there are a number of building blocks that companies must align together within the technology framework. The combination of multiple facets of user identification, spread across multiple systems, is actually often very difficult to manage, especially when often real-time updates are required across all support systems.
This is also convoluted by the web of internally and externally sourced data, and myriad of fully structured, partially structured and unstructured content in possession by a company. For large brands, this challenge is exasperated by large customer sets, and likely, a wide variety of stakeholders with variable willingness and ability to provide live mapping and links to data sources that can be used to identify users across a variety of channels.