Last week over 300 marketers gathered at Boston’s Federal Reserve for MITX’s Annual Ecommerce Summit. The choice of the Federal Reserve building seemed like a natural fit as the conversations that took hold spoke to the convergence of new and old forms of commerce and exchange. The attendees of the event represented a mixture of brand, agency, and technology partners, each having the same goal of learning how to drive growth in this new age of commerce. During the conversations that took place during the sessions and continued into the halls were several common themes, specifically:
1. Walk before you run. It sounds simple, but for many companies that are looking to grow through innovation, it’s a lot easier said than done. As Ben Fischman, the founder of Lids and Rue La La, put it, ‘there is no silver bullet.’ Companies need to set small, incremental goals to drive towards long-term goals. How? Let’s say for example that there’s an online retailer whose long term goal is to deliver an omnichannel and personal experience may begin the process by incorporating recommendations to consumers based on behavioral data collected. It’s a small change that can have a profound impact and can ultimately be the building block for future segmenting and targeting techniques.
2. No interest, no engagement. Kudos to Communispace who shook things up a bit and had a panel full of Gen Z’ers. As one precocious panelist put it ever so bluntly, “I don’t want a brand to keep bugging me like my little brother.” The point was well taken. Consumers, regardless of their age, do not want to be pestered by brands on social media. What’s more, even if consumers like the brand but are feeling inundating with content that’s neither interesting nor relevant, they will likely to tune out. The bottom line is that brands need to tread carefully on social media; they need to create content that is relevant and topical but recognizes the boundaries of the consumer.
3. Importance of omnichannel. Creating an omnichannel experience for the consumer is marketing’s response to the changing consumer lifecycle. Marketers understand that consumers are engaging with their brand through a number of different touchpoints and the onus rests on the brand to create a user experience that is consistent and provides consumers the right information, through the right channels. Speaking of which…
4. Market to people, not devices. The average number of devices that an internet-connected household has in the U.S. is 5.7, which means that at any given point in time they can connect with your brand or vice versa, you can connect with them. That said, brands should not join a social network or use a marketing channel just for the sake of having it. It should be a part of a larger strategy that is focused on the consumer and delivering them with content that enables and empowers them to accomplish what they set out do when they initially intended to do.
5. Reduce friction. Unknowingly, brands often are the cause of distress for many of their consumers and create a negative brand experience because of “friction” the brands have created for the consumer. Friction can be anything from sending too many emails or have a disjointed online and in-store marketing presence. Anything that could deter the consumer from having a seamless experience with a brand is viewed as friction.
Throughout the event, we heard a lot about the “age of the consumer” and it’s important to note that we have entered this era in part because consumers have been armed with the power of choice. Consumers can choose how they want to engage with a brand and if they don’t like how the relationship is going, they can then choose to disengage, and engage with another brand. The end result is a shift of power to the consumer. So, in this new era of the consumer choice, how are you ensuring that your consumers choose to engage with your brand?