A Day in the Garden

Read Time:2 Minutes

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the horticultural industry isn’t one on the forefront of digital marketing, but online garden centre You Garden is a great example of how you can grow your business to new heights, simply by placing the consumer at the heart of everything you do.

From its founding in 2011, You Garden is now projecting a 2019 turnover of £17 million. So how have they gone from start-up to Amazon’s biggest living product provider across all of Europe – without shipping anything outside the UK?

One of the key secrets to their success is that the team are all over the data, all of the time. There’s a simple rule that Peter ensures the business sticks to: if you can’t track it, don’t do it. This allows the team to see what marketing activity is working, what isn’t, and highlights important areas of improvement – and the You Garden team get those updates every single day. 

On top of this, the business is a masterclass in building long-lasting customer relationships. From the moment a customer comes to site, You Garden makes sure they know exactly what to expect. When a product is sent out, they provide all the information needed to make sure consumers know how to take care of the plant – as well as an incredibly responsive customer service team on hand to provide quick responses to any issues that may arise.

In terms of their online efforts, the team knows the power of “basket abandonment” reminders – encouraging users to finish their shopping – and they spend a lot of time tracking hotspots on the website and optimising accordingly. In making the online experience as slick and as intuitive for their customers as possible, showing just how crucial the Path to People really is.  

 

Building a Customer-First Approach


Read Time: 3 minutes

In Claire’s day-to-day as NMPi’s Head of Biddable, she often hears clients ask how they can develop a customer-first approach but what does this actually mean? Claire phrases it as an approach that guides the customer through their journey with relevant content to deliver your desired action. This, however, is still easier said than done, so here are some of her top tips for building a Customer-First Approach. 

Understanding Your Audiences

The first step in any customer-first approach is to understand your current customer. What demographics do they tend to fall into, what is their favourite brand or product, what is their price point, and when are they most likely to shop? Each of these questions helps you to build a picture of your current customer from the ground up, allowing you to perfect your messaging for returning customers. 

Once you’re happy with who your current customers are, the next stage is to expand your customer portfolio and consider who you want your customer to be. Research is key here to ensure your goals are realistic, that you’re performing on at least a similar level to your competitors, and that the value these new customers will bring in compares to your current portfolio. A simple example here is that your targets for new customers shouldn’t be the same as your targets for returning customer.

Review and Readjust

With your audiences set up, it’s time to review your channels to set yourself up for an omnichannel approach. We know that a “typical” customer journey involves a huge chain of touchpoints, so we know that a customer-first approach requires an omnichannel approach. While this might be more difficult to achieve due to the way your company is split out, communication will be your saviour. Make sure you are passing all of your learnings between channels to ensure that your activity reflects the complex nature of the customer journey. 

After all of your research on your current and ideal customer, you know exactly who they are and what’s important to them. So, why not call out some of these things in your messaging? If you know their price point is £100 or lower, don’t show them any items that are more expensive. If a specific campaign is targeting women aged 18-22, use female-led messaging and focus on the things that are important to them like next day delivery. If you know they only shop during promotions, don’t waste your spend on them throughout the rest of the year. 

Keep Moving Forward

So, you know your current customer and your ideal audience. You know what they like, what is important to them, and you’ve developed an omnichannel approach that is set up to send the right message at the right time. If you think your work is done, though, you’d be mistaken. 

It’s not enough to set up a customer-first approach and leave it, you can never stop exploring your customer. Times will change, your product offering will change, and your audiences will almost certainly change. Claire’s most crucial piece of advice is to never stop exploring your customer – their needs and wants will change quicker than you’d think.

Lastly, be clear on what you can maintain and what you can scale up. You might think you can handle a highly-granular and incredibly personalised approach now, but is this something you can keep up? How about when your customer base grows? Keep your segments tight enough to give a customer what they want, but big enough that they’re still manageable. 

But most importantly, come up with your own definition of customer-centric that works for you and your business. Whether that’s simply segmenting new and returning customers, or creating bespoke personas for your audiences, ensure that what you’re doing is manageable and can be scaled up as the need arises.

Video Advertising: Building Ads for Attention

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Working for creative specialists Joystick, Kim Havens knows that we are living in a time when content is king. We have an endless stream of content available at our fingertips: from Netflix to podcasts to news articles. This abundance of content changes the way that consumers engage with it; shortening our attention spans from 12 seconds in 2000 to only 8 seconds in 2015 – 1 second shorter than a goldfish.

This has made our job as marketers much more difficult, but YouTube has become the go-to solution, as it provides a unique opportunity to reach an engaged audience. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, 95% of YouTube viewers will watch ads with both sight and sound. In order to make the most of this, Kim shares best practices for making engaging and exciting YouTube ads.

Creating the Arc

One of the biggest things to avoid when creating your YouTube ads is the “Traditional Story Arc” – the storyline of a traditional TV ad. This style of messaging became ingrained in the consumer consciousness back before we could record live TV and fast forward through the ads. This kind of arc – as seen below – features a slow build-up to a climax and a big reveal of the product. 

However, this model doesn’t work on YouTube. Viewers have the power to skip the ads after just a few seconds and have an attention span shorter than ever before – so a slow build-up will prove largely ineffective. This has given rise to the “Emerging Story Arc”, where the ad starts on a high to reel viewers in and reveals the brand quickly to get the brand name in before viewers can click the “Skip Ad” button. This is crucial: capturing attention in the first 5 seconds. After this high-impact opener, expect view rates to drop off. However, you can use the rest of your placement to provide more information on your product for those who want it.

Mobile First

70% of video content is viewed on mobile, so building for mobile-first is crucial. Cinematic stylings and sweeping shots might work for television, but on a small screen, a lot is missed. There are a couple of things that will be important to remember here. First of all, you’ll want to keep the pacing up to help you maintain viewers attention. Make up for dim phone screens by using bright footage, and counteract small screens with tight cropping and big text & graphics. A great alternative to the full-length YouTube ad is a bumper ad. These are short, 6 second, non-skip spots that help to capture attention and keep your message front of mind.

Growing your Story

Deploying mixtures of formats and lengths of creatives has been proven to have a positive impact on results and increases the overall reach of the campaign. For example, use a 6-second bumper ad to tease, 15-second non-skip Google Preferred ad to amplify the message, and then longer 30 second (or more) TrueView instream ads to echo your previous placements. This allows you to grow your message over more interactions – improving your brand recognition and providing the opportunity to deepen the narrative.

So your 4 guiding principles to Effective Ads are:

  • Win the first 5 seconds
  • Make it for Mobile
  • Keep it Short and Sweet
  • Evolve your Storytelling

Now go and create some engaging content!

People and Technology

Read Time: 4 Minutes

There’s nothing more frustrating than splurging in the sales, only to receive an email 2 days later with 20% off. The only exception might be if the discount is only for dresses and skirts – despite never having bought these in the past. 

With the huge amount of data that marketers have at their fingertips, it would be fair to expect that we would have begun to hone our personalisation efforts. While retargeting is a great tactic, serving ads for a holiday to someone who is going away in a few days isn’t the most efficient strategy for that one person. 

DQ&A’s James Sleaford highlights that the path to people has to consider all of the little nuances that make up an individual consumer, but that a customer experience which delights from start to finish requires an organisational approach: which comes out in the technology you use and the people you work with. 

A Roadmap for Change

Digital transformation of this type needs careful planning, so one of the things that DQ&A often recommend to businesses who are in the process of setting up a more rounded approach to advertising is to set up a technology roadmap, which goes from audit all the way to your ongoing development cycle. 

  • Discover: Get a full picture of all of the technology that is at your disposal, and the goals of your organisation. Consider how much of specific tactics you want to do – for example how much retargeting do you want to do?
  • Design: With this in mind, design a technology “stack” that is best suited to your capabilities, ambition, and the resources at your disposal.
  • Deploy: Implement your plan of action
  • Develop: Create a roadmap that sets out how you plan to build more advanced technology solutions to power your marketing efforts.

Once you know where you are, it’s much easier to see where you’re going and what you need to get there. 

Technology for Every Stage

Regardless of where you are on your technology roadmap, there are products that can help you at every stage of the journey. If you’re just starting on your technology journey, there’s a lot of great work that can be done on an individual perspective with free versions of Google Ads and Google Analytics. You can build your audiences and run retargeting, but it is very channel-specific, and it doesn’t take into account the various nuances of your customers.

The next step that businesses often take is to adopt the Google Marketing Platform, unlocking 3rd-party audiences, display activity, and allowing you to look at things from a post-impression point of view. It also allows you to introduce frequency capping, to prevent bombarding your customer with lots of different messaging across lots of different platforms.

The businesses that have supercharged their technology by using their adtech as a base and building Cloud technology on top of this. This allows you to integrate your 1st-party data, try out some customer modelling to predict what customers might want, and machine learning into your campaigns. As the most advanced stage, this will superpower your ability to deliver truly great customer experiences. However, remember that you can do good work with any of the tools mentioned here – you don’t need cloud technology if you aren’t ready for it yet. 

It’s Still a People Business

Regardless of how much technology we’re using, advertising is still a people business at its core. As you’re going down the road of digital transformation, 

First, remember that the skills that are now required to envision, manage and implement advertising are evolving, and some of the roles that will be crucial to running advertising will be completely new. Make sure you plan for this accordingly with effective training to make sure your team are prepared and equipped. Also ensure that your culture encourages collaboration, and gets the whole team to share the vision. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the people you work with aren’t just within your company. Consider how you can work with your agency and technology partners to best bring your goals to life. Finally, ensure you get sponsorship from senior stakeholders in order to avoid short-termism and qualify investment. 

The biggest piece of advice James offers is to highlight that advertising is just the tip of the iceberg: the path to people also involves their on-site experience, in-store experience, the logistics and shipping, and ease of returns. Don’t focus on a single one of these at the expense of the others.

Data Integration: Taking a Measured Approach

Read Time: 3 Minutes

NMPi’s Performance Display Channel Manager, Anna Jorysz, took to the stage at our latest seminar to talk about how to take a measured approach to your data integration.

Anna will be the first to tell you that innovation is integral to creating an attention-grabbing display campaign, but it has to have a point and it has to make gains. There is no point to being seduced by an exciting idea if it doesn’t work, or even worse if you have no way of knowing if it works or not.

This is a concept that Anna lives and breathes because through our pure-performance model NMPi pays for the advertising spend and we only make money when we drive results. In other words, it can’t just look good, it needs to be effective and efficient.

This also applies to integrating data into your campaigns.

When it comes to your digital campaigns there are two main areas where you integrate data: (1) Creative and Messaging – personalisation efforts, dynamic ads, and the integration of live data into campaigns, and (2) Buying and Targeting – using data to shape bidding strategies and audience segmentation.

With these areas in mind, there are 4 key questions to consider when you are approaching your planning and strategies there:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Why will data help you to achieve this?
  • How will you measure your success?
  • How will you continue to optimise further?

Make sure to watch Anna’s video to learn more about how she uses data in her award-winning campaign for Liverpool FC.

The Key to Success

There are three main things to remember above all when integrating data into your campaigns:

  • Measure: Make sure you’re starting from the data
  • Be Measured: Don’t throw the kitchen sink at it. Start from what you know works, optimise and build up
  • Measure Again: Monitor what’s working and what’s not, and keep feeding that back as you continue to optimise

And while you’re doing all that don’t forget to be creative – being data-driven should never come at the expense of big ideas.

Make sure to watch Anna’s video to learn more about how she uses data in her award-winning campaign for Liverpool FC.

Download Anna’s slides: Data Integration: Taking a Measured Approach

The Power of Adaptability

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Laura Penhaul was the keynote at NMPi’s recent seminar, where she talked about her experience as Team Leader for the Coxless Crew as they rowed across the Pacific Ocean, setting 2 world records in the process.

“When there is an element of choice,” she began, “we and society as a whole will choose the path of least resistance;” the easy route, the less risky route, the less energy-consuming so as to allow room for all the other factors in life. But what if we get comfortable with stepping into the unknown? It was only by tackling the largest ocean in the world that Laura was able to understand how to cope with the unknown, and what we draw upon when we want to give up.

Adaptability: the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions

Adaptability is a quality that is, in fact, innate in all humans; it’s a part of our physiology. Our immune system, the way we grow, how we remodel from injury, how we acclimatise to altitude or heat, it’s all process of adaption. When we don’t give ourselves a choice, we naturally adapt to our new life path.

While working with Paralympic athletes, Laura saw this adaption every day. Jacko Van Gaas, injured in the war, awoke and felt lucky to be alive. He has gone on to be a British Paralympic cyclist & part of the first ever adaptive team to climb the 7 highest peaks in the world and 2 poles – he chose to make the most of his abilities.

“Why do we wait to be faced with significant adversity before we realise our abilities?” questions Laura.

Losing Sight of Shore

What better way to understand this mindset than by doing something completely unknown – and that’s when Laura decided to row an ocean. Starting in San Francisco, she and 3 other women headed out into the expanse of the largest ocean in the world with no support, no get-out clause, and no safety boat in sight. “The term ‘go with the flow’ soon became a way of life out there, because that’s all we could do,” states Laura. They had to draw on adaptive behaviours to take on the challenge and constantly evolve through the journey, learning as they went and understanding there is no failure if we reflect and learn from it.

We all have our own Pacific to cross – whether literal or figurative. Not everything will play out exactly as written in the guidebook. Allowing yourself to control the controllable and adapt to the rest, we can minimise that threat of the unknown and stop ourselves from wanting to give up.

Download Laura’s slides: The Power of Adaptability

Watch Laura’s Netflix Documentary, Losing Sight of Shore

Napapijri Takes Responsibility

Read Time: 3 Minutes

The fashion industry of late has gone through a shocking realisation. The realisation that it is, unfortunately, a dirty business. Statistically, it is one of the top polluters in the world: a survey from Sainsbury’s last year showed that 235m items ended up in a landfill as people switched to their summer wardrobe. The average piece of clothing in the UK lasts for less than 3 years before being discarded, with over 1m tonnes of new clothing being bought last year. We are constantly consuming stuff, and constantly throwing it away.

At NMPi’s latest seminar, Rob Herdman, Senior Global Manager – PR & Media for Napapijri, took to the stage to explain how they realised that they had a responsibility to change. The Italian fashion brand has an internal philosophy to address sustainability issues, which in turn frames a lot of their decision making. Called “Make it Better”, they focus on doing what they were doing slightly better year on year so they will eventually get to a point they can be happy with. Often, we try to act too quickly, and we can’t enact the change quick enough, or we end up doing things wrong. This way, Napapijri sets a goal for 3 years down the line and moves there step by step.

So far, they’ve removed fur, down, a lot of the chemicals that were once present in their jackets; and the next stage is to tackle the issue of massive waste. The fashion industry fuels this, wanting consumers to continue to go out and purchase new clothing, to change their wardrobe every 6 months.

The Next Phase

The goal is now to go from Mass Production to Mass Customisation; shifting to an “on-demand” model where, rather than mass producing items to sell, products are only made when someone wants to buy it. This avoids all of the waste that comes when you don’t sell all of your stock.

Ze-Knit was the first step in that direction:

Napapijri changed the way they produced their clothing, moving to a technique called digital knitting which is very similar to 3D printing. Rather than stitching fabric together, you’re having a machine make a 3D model of the garment in one piece. This means they can cut out stages of the manufacturing process and thus reduce waste by up to 30%.

But this is just the start. Moving forward, the brand wants to make the customer more responsible as well. They’re already looking at ways of encouraging customisation, to produce exactly what the customer wants, only when they want it. If they succeed, the fashion industry will be turned on its head.

Download Rob’s slides: How to Succeed in Times of Change: Take Responsibility

Audio: Don’t Call it a Comeback

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Many assume that when we talk about the origins of audio ads we’re referring to radio ads, but actually back in the 1890s there was a telephone newspaper that would transmit news and entertainment over telephone lines, and brands could pay for a short audio spot to reach those listeners. As other channels grew, respect for audio shrank until it appeared to fade into obscurity. Consider video advertising, particularly on social, where it has become common practise for videos to have subtitles as it is assumed that no-one is listening to the sound anyway.

According to Andrew Henry, VP, Director of Client Services at Joystick, Audio is very different. It represents an intimate space where brands can connect with users unlike ever before. There are 660,000 podcasts currently in production, and Adobe recently reported that most consumers listen to at least 1-5 hours of music or podcasts a week. This is no longer a passive experience.

Voice assistant devices are one of the biggest reasons why audio has re-entered into the conversation, but more than that audio is everywhere. We consume it constantly: in your home, your car, during your commute or even at the gym.

Making the Most of Audio

With this in mind, Andrew offers a number of best practices as brands revisit the humble audio ad:

  • As with all channels, understanding your audience is crucial: personalisation is shown to have a higher engagement rate across all mediums.
  • On top of this, understand the platform you’re working with, be that podcast or music streaming services. Consumption patterns and user context will affect how your ad is received.
  • Keep the placements short and sweet, with a clear call to action and repeating the brand name 2-3 times. This will help your ads have a higher recall rate.
  • Consider the full story of the ad by balancing voiceovers, music and other sound effects.

The Future of Search?

There is an oft-quoted statistic that 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020 – but what will that look like? “At its core, voice allows consumers to be more efficient in their day to day, as well as more present in their lives,” states Andrew. 36% of voice-activated speakers say that the main reason for using the device is that it enables them to do things faster, while 69% of users say they use the device while doing other things.

Audio has come full circle, and now offers hugely innovative ad placements ripe for the taking.

Download Andrew’s slides: Audio: Don’t Call it a Comeback

Sustainable Growth in Unstable Times

Read Time: 3 Minutes

It is an understatement to say that digital and technology is central to our lives – and this gives us access to unparalleled amounts of information. The problem with this, states Abigail, Head of Retail at Google Marketing Platform, is that it ends up giving us far too much choice.

We crave the freedom to choose, up to a point. Give us too many options and making a decision becomes mentally fatiguing. Humans have adapted to a point: our brains will seek ways of avoiding that mental strain. “It’s hardly surprising that many of the apps and technologies that have become mainstays of public consciousness are those that help us cut back the scale of choice,” comments Abigail.

Consider those personal curation services like Netflix and Spotify, which use our previous choices to make informed suggestions about similar things we might enjoy. There are also devices and apps that can speed up and simplify payments, or even remove elements of choice altogether, for example, Uber. We love those services which make our lives easier, and they have become the new norm.

Curation was a key element of the promise and proposition of retail, along with price, assortment, and convenience. This refers to things like organising a range of options in a category, leaning on a trusted brand, and giving customers the confidence that they’re being delivered the most relevant options to choose from.

However, in the digital world where we have unlimited visibility over products, services and information, we are now seeing consumers finding their own ways of cutting through the noise and curating for themselves. The problem lies in the amount of work that the consumer still has to do. They are empowered by being able to handle it all themselves, but there are still a lot of choices – they still need help from brands and retailers.

Interestingly enough, around 80% of the UK population is buying online while £8 of every £10 is spent in physical stores – this despite countless headlines telling us that the high street is dying. So, what is going on? Well, the problem might be that we still haven’t managed to nail customer experiences online.

Google calls this the “Age of Assistance”: building a much more integrated and intuitive experience, expecting that this will gradually become much more predictive. How can you apply this across your business? The first step is to accelerate by bringing data into the heart of your business. Next is connect by being present wherever your customer wants to engage. Finally, drive action by delivering amazing assistive experiences.

Download Abigail’s presentation: Sustainable Growth in an Unstable Time

Digital Transformation can Help us to Succeed in a Changing World

Read Time: 4 Minutes

According to Naomi López, Head of CX Strategic Programmes at BT TV & BT Sport, disruption has become the new black, particularly in industries like retail. Newer business models from the likes of Lush, the Disney Store and Dominos have granted them huge successes in a very short space of time, while older and more traditional businesses have suffered.

During NMPi’s latest seminar, Naomi talked about the fact that, since 2013, 1 in 5 shops in the UK have closed. With the rise of e-commerce and online-only stores, many brick and mortar stores haven’t been able to keep up. The ones who have survived are the ones who have embraced digital transformation. Consumers are looking for personal experiences now: they’re busy and they don’t have time to go into a huge store to look for the one perfect gift. This is the model that saw the downfall of Toys’R’Us.

Looking back at the stores that have closed, there is an overwhelming trend in their replacements. Sitting in their place are hair salons, nail salons, beauty salons and so on. The consumer is clearly indicating what they value: tangible experiences.

Creating Tangible Experiences

Naomi asks us to consider an online wine store: e-commerce, but with real-time service. As you search for the perfect wine to match your meal, an assistant from the store pops up to advise you on the best products to buy, ultimately, helping you find that perfect Pinot Grigio for your creamy salmon pasta. This provides value for the customer, is incredibly convenient, and is an overwhelmingly positive experience – likely to increase loyalty and even reduce costs for the business as a whole. All in all? A win-win situation.

This example demonstrates how the combination of technology and digitalisation has allowed us to put the customer first. We now operate within a highly connected ecosystem: the whole supply and delivery chain work together even if it’s provided by different companies. This is crucial as consumers have developed extremely high expectations. Naomi commented, “Some businesses are providing impeccable service, so why would a customer tolerate antiquated ways of working?”

With huge amounts of data available to businesses, retailers can now predict when customers will change their behaviours, thus allowing them to adapt accordingly and communicate much more effectively. Problems can be identified much easier, and employees are empowered by heaps of information, which means they can better help when the situation arises – once again providing a tangible experience.

Remember though – while computers can think, learn, process and adapt to much of the data available at a faster rate than humans, they don’t have the imagination, creativity and emotion to bring it to life.

Download Naomi’s slides: How Digital Transformation Can Help Us Succeed in a Changing World