Industry Voices

Marketing and Three Big Digital Platforms

Today’s shoppers live in a 360° world. They can stretch out in any direction, at any time to get the information they want or need from a wide variety of technologies and media platforms. Traditional media, for all its strengths, reaches only 180° of these touchpoints. Shoppers still respond to in-store signage, print, TV and radio communications, but they’ve expanded their communications inputs to include websites, email, text messaging, and mobile and social platforms.

You have to make digital communications part of your shopper marketing plan to reach the other 180° of touchpoints. This particularly applies to three big platforms: the Internet, social media and mobile.

The reason it’s important to bring digital execution under the discipline of overall strategic marketing plans is because it expands your field of vision. Seeing the world the way your shoppers see it and use it — all 360° of it — reveals many more shopper touchpoints, which means more opportunity for retailers.

In today’s world — where digital media creates a 360° view and anytime-anywhere access for both shoppers and retailers — mobile is the ultimate and critical 360° device.

With such tremendous reach, mobile should be part of any balanced marketing strategy if you’re going to try to “Ride the Wave” — that is, if you’re going to use the media platform that most of your customers are using in your efforts to reach them effectively. And mobile shouldn’t be restricted to pre-shopping messages, it should also be used for in-store content. Mobile is the most intimate device people use, generally with them most of their waking time. Mobile is most effective when it delivers “thinner” messages that will move the shopper. Offering deals is a great place to start, and those deals need to be relevant and/or compelling. The two best ways to accomplish this are by personalizing the message for relevance when shopper purchase history is available, and by relying on hot deals that align with events and seasons.

Social media is exciting and valuable because it allows retailers and brands to create engagement and continuous dialogue with shoppers. For me, the most exciting opportunity it offers is to have your best customers influence others to shop your store or products. It’s a key part of shopper marketing in the digital age, but so far, many companies haven’t taken full advantage of its capabilities. Often, social media makes businesses feel defensive or overwhelmed.

Let’s use Facebook to illustrate the key elements that retailers and brands need to consider when starting a social program, since it’s the largest social network. There are four steps.

  1. Create your fan page.
  2. Get shoppers to join your fan page.
  3. Get shoppers to return to your fan page repeatedly.
  4. Get your shoppers to influence others by “liking” what you offer and recommending you to their friends.

To be effective, your Facebook or other social media program needs to have ALL these elements relevant to the social tools being utilized. Take an example involving showrooming. A brick and mortar electronics and appliance retailer wanted to counter showrooming, so it offered an incentive for future purchases at the store equal to the best price difference the shopper found online. Then, the retailer increased the incentive for shoppers who “liked” the value on Facebook. In a one-store test, 70% of the 100 people who took advantage of the offer posted a “like” to capture the added savings. The retailer got the benefit of future business from the shopper — plus exposure to 7,000 friends through the endorsements.

The Internet, social media and mobile platforms are interrelated. Integrating ALL three of these elements is crucial to success. Anything you do well or poorly in one of them is going to be amplified by the others. This will happen across all three even if you include only one of them in your campaign. The power of these platforms is that they naturally create a positive buzz when shoppers like what you do and a negative groundswell when you plan and execute poorly.

Take the time to plan the integration of digital media into your overall marketing plan.

You can find more detail in a white paper called “Digital Shopper Marketing: Managing New Requirements.” It’s available from the Brick Meets Click website at

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