Insights

  • Building Brands through the Social gGraph

    by Edgar Uy | Oct 28, 2011

    The adage that a company does not define their brand but customers do is still an immutable truth. Brands can try to dictate what they stand for, but ultimately they are judged by the sum total of the customer experience. Brands that engage in a dialogue by listening, learning and participating are more likely to create a positive impact. Therefore, it is important that brands actively participate in dialogs throughout their social graph, leveraging the strength in their core message, feedback mechanisms, curating and distributing content, and visual expression as it applies across channels.

    A social media strategy cannot exist without a content strategy. Brands must develop content that reflect the brand promise and give people a reason to stay engaged. Make it easy for your brand advocates to share your content through their social graph. Content shared through word-of-mouth is far more powerful at driving brand preferences and intent than paid advertising alone.

    So how do you develop a content strategy? Here are a few important elements to consider:

    • Know what your audience wants to talk about, be sure the topic is relevant, and understand how it fits into their daily lives. Be willing to engage in those conversations by using your own brand voice, in a personable language that your audience is using and characteristic of how your brand expresses itself.
    • Know your audience and where they want to have these conversations. People follow you because they like you, and because your brand offers them something—so be sure to deliver. Remember that influential users (loosely defined as users whose actions result in additional site visitors) may generate up to 40% of total site traffic, even though they typically account for less than 5% of total site users. It’s important that marketers identify, recognize and reward those that are influential in converting others.
    • Knowing where your audience hangs out is equally important. This can depend on their age and gender, as well as your offerings. There are plenty of statistics that break down social media sites by demographics, such as the Nielsen Social Media Report: Q3 2011.
    • Measure the results and impact of your conversations. This can be tracking how many comments and likes received on Facebook, volume of Twitter followers, number of retweets and mentions along with social media referral traffic to your website.

    Have the patience to build your community and engender trust, and the flexibility to evolve content over time. If you’re fun, honest and relevant, they will share with their friends and others, which is what social media is all about.

    Lastly, managing Social Media is more art than science; however, creating a structured framework aligned with data driven principles will help brands improve effectiveness and investment return over time.

  • Customer Experience: The Other Side of Loyalty—Part 2

    by Edgar Uy | Jul 01, 2011

    Continuing from my last post on what true loyalty means, I would like to touch upon the topic of customer experience (CX) as a foundation for truly serving the customer.

    Based on recent research findings, great customer experiences comprise three dimensions — functional, accessible and emotional — which as a whole create a lucid experience that positively impacts how customers view companies and the likelihood that they will purchase from them.

     

    Nothing will frustrate customers more than a company’s inability to serve their basic needs in a way that is easily accessible and convenient, thereby making that emotional connection.  The result of serving these needs creates a lasting impression that positively reinforces the essence of the brand, and increases brand equity.

     

    Although there is no silver bullet for CX success, there are clear steps that successful companies take to create a lasting impact.

    1.     Leadership:  These organizations consistently operate from a clear set of principles and values, following examples set by their executive team. 

    2.     Values: While a company can communicate what they stand for through marketing or advertising, it is customers who define their brand. Successful companies know that it’s not enough to just communicate what they stand for, but that it’s equally, if not more, important to behave in a way that consistently delivers the brand promise at every touch point.

    3.     Engagement: Employees are living examples of a company’s mission and its core values. Successful businesses make sure that every associate understands and is aligned with the goals of the company in order to deliver the intended experience customers seek, expect, and demand.

    4.     Connection: Every customer interaction and feedback affords every company an opportunity to learn more about how they can improve their product or service. Successful businesses have a systematic approach for collecting and responding to customer feedback and recognize that it is invaluable to generating the loyalty they desire.

     

    Establishing an ideal customer experience requires an ongoing commitment and a clarion call for companies who desire the benefits of long-term customer loyalty. Trellist is enabling businesses to create these experiences, to foster and expand relationships with their customers by helping to build brands based on solid principles that act as launching pads for loyalty and longevity.  In an age where social media is empowering consumers like never before and where word of mouth is more influential than paid advertising, commitment to delivering the total CX presents a big opportunity to gain and maintain a competitive advantage.

  • Customer Experience: The Other Side of Loyalty

    by Edgar Uy | Apr 18, 2011
     

    In a 2010 study, Jupiter Research cited that 75 percent of American consumers belong to at least one loyalty program. These programs can promote brand consideration since consumers are always looking for ways to be rewarded for loyalty. Whether it’s through immediate savings, cash back or rewards incentive for future purchases, companies realize the benefit of incentivizing their customer base. However, there is an additional approach to consider that creates an added sense of loyalty in customers augmenting existing programs.

    Businesses today, specifically those that rely on a strong brand appeal, are encountering a new breed of customers who are savvy, engaged, and, most importantly, connected. Social Networks have transformed the way these customers shop and communicate, and provide a platform to easily share their opinions with family, friends, colleagues and others. Today’s consumers are even more demanding, and much more critical of brands with grand promises that fail to deliver.  As a result, they are empowered to be selective given that they have the power to choose easily and rely on a tribe of likeminded consumers to make their purchase decisions.

    Beyond using the two basic types of loyalty programs, such as the rewards-based approach and/or promoting specialized offers to a select group, focus on forging a stronger connection with your customers at every touch-point thereby turning them into evangelists and advocates for your brand. Reward their loyalty with better customer experiences, whether it’s through product or service inquiry, purchase ease, recommendations, timely promotions or convenience.  

    Listening to your customers and identifying needs that are not being met, or obstacles in their experiences that have a negative impact to your brand and reputation, provides the opportunity to act on them. Just be sure to address the underlying problem through a self-nurturing feedback loop. The insight you gain may lead to fundamental changes in your value proposition, enhanced product/service opportunities or even your entire business model.

    Just remember that loyalty is a by-product of the customer experience and not a result of specific programs. Trellist follows this guiding principle when developing loyalty strategies for our clients. 

  • Mobile App or Mobile Site?

    by Edgar Uy | Dec 03, 2010

    As businesses clamor to establish their brand presence in the increasingly popular mobile channel, the foremost question that must be answered is whether to build a mobile app or a mobile site. Hopefully the following information will provide some initial guidance and initiate further discourse on which path allows eCommerce companies the greatest benefit to connect with the largest amount of consumers while extracting the maximum value of their investment.

    Each platform has distinct advantages but the decision may rest on content type. Increasing sophistication of mobile browsers and the increasing support for HTML 5, will allow easier creation of robust user experience on mobile sites without having to develop platform-specific apps. Some forms of content, such as games and entertainment will naturally gravitate toward mobile apps where a rich user experience is necessary.

    According to recent reports, 19% of the mobile sites measured were Shopping and Services sites; compared to 3.6% in the same category for mobile apps. Mobile Commerce (mCommerce) services are more likely to take advantage of browser-based mobile sites than gaming and entertainment providers where content is better delivered as an app. Understandably, mCommerce currently dominates on mobile sites considering its reach as opposed to developing OS-specific applications that may not be useable by a vast slice of prospective customers.

    Industry analysts expect the browser-based mobile site market to grow much faster than the app market, although both continue to see substantial growth as adoption and demand continue to rise annually. This is partially due to the increased presence of better mobile devices; it is estimated that Apple will sell 36 million iPhones worldwide in 2010 with Droid ostensibly outpacing that on a monthly basis.

    Some research has shown that the future of the mobile channel is likely to be dominated by cross-platform browser-based mobile sites—rather than mobile apps built specifically for iPhone, Android, or any other platform. Consider that rolling out mCommerce services across multiple mobile OS-specific applications is not easily achieved due to a host of technical and perhaps financial barriers, whereas mobile sites provides an easier migration of existing desktop ecommerce infrastructure.

    Whichever path companies decide to pursue, device sites or apps have to be complimentary to other channels. Trellist is helping our eCommerce clients create complimentary mobile versions of their online stores to generate revenue in this important channel. We’re also developing strategies for mobile applications that will increase brand loyalty and revenues.

    How are you addressing the question of mobile site or mobile app? We’d like to know.

  • Monitoring the Effectiveness of Your Applications

    by Mark Stitz | Nov 22, 2010

    Applications and websites are often developed around the needs and beliefs of internal company employees. These ‘business requirements’ are based on internal employees’ belief of what their customers want to see and do - however the customers might have different needs and wants the internal employees recognize. The challenge is to fully understand the real end user and what they would like.

    There are many tools to help understand the target customer better. One of the best tools that we utilize is to literally go and ask the customers through a series of interviews and surveys specially designed to capture important information that might have been missed by the internal business units. Key customers from different demographics are selected and interviewed while a larger section of the customer based is surveyed. The surveys typically include findings from the interview process as a means to validate important new findings.

    Another tool that we utilize is web / application analytics tools such as the free Google Analytics. These tools automatically collect a lot of information that even the customer might not be aware of such as screen resolution, time spent on the site or even on individual pages, conversion rates on things like email campaigns, onsite behavior from paid search referrals and much more. You can even establish a funnel process (like a checkout process of required steps) that you would like the customers to flow through and see how well people made it through the process and which pages they exited the process.

    Analytics packages such as Google Analytics even support overlays which allow you to see your site through the eyes of the analytics package. The overlay will add key metrics overtop of the hyperlinks of the site so you can see the number of clicks and the percentage of clicks on certain links which lets you see how popular different content is.

    There are even now analytics packages that allow you to see analytics of installed applications such as a new offering from PreEmptive Solutions that hooks into the new Windows Phone 7 installed applications. These types of analytics packages let you see how your installed application is being used, which has really never been an option in the past. You can see how often certain features are used and graph out the usage over time. If you are developing a mobile application that is sold globally the analytics package even shows you demographic-based usage information where in the past it was a launch and forget situation.

    There are many more tools that we utilize in trying to fully understand the customer needs and how effective the current offerings are for them and what could be improved. It is important to fully understand the customer and how your offerings meet those needs. With all of these data rich tools it’s not difficult to understand your effectiveness and improve on it.

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