NMPignite: The Customer is Always Right

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The main message in the presentation delivered by Fred Maude, Performance Manager for NMPi, was that the customer is always right. At an industry level, at a brand or advertiser level, and at a campaign level, the customer is always right.

Experience Matters for the Industry

“Globally, monthly active desktop ad-blocking has grown 400% since January 2013 to 220 million” according to Adobe. This is a frankly staggering statistic and highlights a problem that rests above any one advertiser. Consumers are not happy with the industry in general, and we as an industry have the most to lose. The ad industry plays a major role in keeping a lot of web content free.

Experience Matters for your Brand

More than ever before, the customer is right. They wield more power and influence due to:

  • A wealth of choice – if you aren’t providing an experience that delights, then a consumer will just find someone who does.
  • Ease of switching – a consumer and switch to a competitor with little to no effort, and possibly pick up an introductory offer along the way
  • Louder voice – it only takes one trending review or social media post to make or break your campaign.

The bottom line is, if we don’t give them an experience that they like, they can punish us in ways and speeds not possible before the digital age. Fundamentally, if we don’t provide exceptional experience, then someone else will.

Experience Matters for your Campaigns

At the lowest level, the customer is still right – you just have to find them. There are people out there who will purchase from your campaigns, but finding them within budget constraints is difficult. On top of showing new and creative ads, you have to ensure that you are maximising performance potential.

Ads are like Marmite, so find the people who love your digital marmite by making your campaigns as granular as possible, breaking down your internal silos, and underpinning it all with analytics. Find out what technology your partners are using and work to integrate them. Make sure your channels are all working towards a common goal. Creating this greater experience will lead to higher engagement and increased direct response.

If we look after our own campaigns in this way, then the industry can look after itself.

NMPignite: Storytelling Through Light and Video


Tupac Martir has worked with some of the world’s finest artists. From designers like Alexander McQueen and Alexander Wang, to bands like Porter and Unkle, and artists like Xu Bing, Martir has used light and video to create impeccable experiences for audiences. His work is perhaps the perfect embodiment of our topic, using art and science to create flawless experiences for audiences around the globe, and perhaps the best example of this is his collaboration with Johnnie Walker.

HIK+ (Johnnie Walker)

In late 2017, Tupac Martir took over the side of Mexico’s tallest building on behalf of whisky brand Johnnie Walker with a “visual poem” dedicated to Mexico City. The city was recovering from a devastating earthquake, and so with free reign to design whatever he wished, he decided to write a love letter to its people.

“Keep improving, keep succeeding, keep walking Mexico.” – epigraph

There were two main elements to the piece. The first half took data from Instagram to display posts about the audience’s greatest successes. As Martir and his team were sharing their success, he wanted to give the people a chance to do the same.

The second half of the piece used motion capture to record the movements of ballet dancer Isaac Hernandez. Showing his escape from a labyrinth, and overcoming an internal struggle in the process, it symbolised the struggles that the city had pulled itself through. Through artistry, picked up through data capturing technology, Martir was able to tell a story that was seen by thousands on their commute home from work. All in all, the piece lead to an increase in sales of Johnnie Walker of 17%.

In essence, it was a great experience developed by the melding of art and science, demonstrating how in the purest sense the two work hand in hand.    

NMPignite: Customer-First Marketing through Technology

Customer first marketing is the holy grail of advertising, but we tend to only talk about marketing on a one-to-one basis. This is where the idea that marketing is creepy comes from: what we’re calling customer first is still just driving our sales. We should be putting our customers, rather than our marketing goals, first if we want to truly lay a claim to the “customer-first” mantra.

Science, but no Art

James Sleaford, Managing Director of DQ&A, uses many of his own experiences to demonstrate the problems with the current model of “customer-first”. Up until February 2018, he was still receiving emails from Booking.com with recommended destinations in Bali – a place he visited back in October 2014. Science and data are clearly telling them that this works, but for some this has an opposite effect. A customer would likely have a better experience if they were given similar locations, but not the same.

This is hardly the only example of this. Consider an ad for a German classical music streaming app, served to an English tourist only after they returned home.

A free drink offer sounds like a good idea, but if it’s not on anything your consumer ever buys then what’s the point? What about a dress that you might view once, but ends up following you around the internet for months after? The data and science might suggest that it works, but by only using science you’re never going to give a consumer a great experience.

Full Digital Transformation

If we as advertisers want to communicate with customers who want to engage – which leads to higher lifetime values, and develops a mutually beneficial relationship – then we need a full digital transformation. The path to customer-first marketing will take us from a media-centric approach to a tech-centric approach, up to a data-centric approach until our approach places the customer firmly at the centre.

Now, there are “6 Ps” of digital transformation: Plan, People, Partners, Platforms, Process and Personalisation. Of these, James focuses on Platforms, and in particular the Google Marketing Platform. A unified tech stack such as Google Marketing Platform allows you to move data from one place to another – something that wasn’t possible before. It also improves efficiency and performance straight away, gives you better data integrity, and helps you to break down human silos.

There are some things that marketers can’t get hold of through Google Marketing Platform, such as logistics, business reporting and CRM data. These business insights can all be stored in the Google Cloud. With all of these insights in one central place, you can increase collaboration across your media and creative agencies, your ecommerce team, your data & business analytics team and your tech team to once again break down silos and improve efficiency and performance.

 

To move towards true customer-first marketing without appearing creepy, we should be taking on even more signals from our customers to find out how to create an experience that delights. Check out DQ&A’s case study on Transavia to see how this can be done in practice.

NMPignite: The Creative Renaissance

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The digital media landscape has changed substantially, and it is Dave Rosowsky’s – COO of Joystick – belief that we are now in the midst of a creative renaissance. We are in a unique opportunity to bring together media, creative and technology in a way that has never been done before. Historically, technology has supported media or creative, but not both. We are now in a position where technology is mature enough that we can start to find new and innovative ways to integrate them.

Professor Clay Shirky argues that “tools don’t get interesting until they get technologically boring”, and this is precisely where we are with programmatic. We can’t start experimenting with technology until society has become comfortable with it until we take it for granted. Now the industry has come to grips with programmatic, we can begin to play around with new formats and so on.

We’ve seen display advertising go from the first banner ads of 1994, back when you could expect a CTR of 44%, to the launch of DoubleClick in 1996. We’ve seen advertisers take down one of America’s largest airlines, and win a presidential election. We saw the birth of programmatic and RTB back in 2010, and now we’re at a point where it’s become boring.

This is the time for creative to shine. The creative renaissance is driven by data, delivered programmatically across a multitude of channels, can be tracked, analyzed and reported on, and of course, is fueled by creative.

Predictions for the Future

  • With the massive growth of programmatic media channels and the technology in place to deliver across “all mediums” we can now focus on what can be done creatively to bring our ideas to life.
  • Publishers will provide creative with the canvas they need, while also taking more responsibility for how ad inventory appears on pages and ensuring the ad-serving experience is much more consistent and clean.
  • Programmatic Direct will open up premium inventory and increases our opportunities to deliver visually compelling creative.
  • Creative will not only become more personalised but personalised across all channels.
  • High impact formats will make a resurgence.
  • Data, technology and analytics will enable collaboration between media, creative and experience in new ways, something that both the Google Marketing Platform and Joystick’s new partnership with NMPi and DQ&A are trying to realise.

Media enables us to reach the right person, but when you reach them, it has to be great experience. Creative is the answer. Creating experiences that delight our users is the answer.

NMPignite: Creating Exceptional Experiences

Great experience drives great performance, but with so many touchpoints and variables plus an ever-increasing amount of data, how do we pull it all together to create exceptional experiences that drive customer loyalty? We sat down with Claire Rampen, Head of Growth & Digital at Beryl, Elizabeth Vince, Creative Agency Lead at Google, Amy-Lee Cowey, Senior eCommerce Manager for Charlotte Tilbury, and Craig Brown, Performance Development Director at NMPi to ask the hard questions and deep dive into what creates captivating connections.  

Q: Are we making too much of a big deal out of customer experience?

The running theme throughout everyone’s responses is that customer experience has to be at the forefront of everything you do. Teams across your business have to make sure that customer experience is one of the first things they consider. As Craig notes, there is no such thing as good customer service anymore. Customers expect their experiences to be good, so they only call you out if it’s bad. You might be able to drive the best traffic in the world, but if the user has a bad experience on site you’ll never be able to get them to convert. On top of this, Claire argues that there is a second tier to this. You’re not only trying to get customers to convert but make them advocates for your brand, and ensure they stay loyal.

And the importance of customer experience is reflected industry-wide. Creative eCommerce and Brand Experience & Activation are now their own categories at Cannes. The industry itself is seeing how crucial this is for brands and advertisers, and we would do well to adopt Google’s number one principle: focus on the user and all else will follow.

Q: What are the challenges and barriers that you face?

Working in separate industries, our panellists face separate and distinct barriers. Beryl looks at how to get all the data together in a way that you can trust it, something Claire doesn’t believe anyone has cracked yet. One thing she does note is that the legacy behind established businesses often holds them back in this regard.

Reiterating comments from Fred Maude’s earlier presentation, Elizabeth reminds us of how easy it is for consumers to switch off and even switch to one of your competitors. They have so much more control than ever before and are much more likely to change channels if they want to avoid your advert for example. However, if they love something they will happily binge it. If a customer is leaning in and engaging with your advertising and brand, give them more to let them engage and roll with it.

From an agency perspective, Craig discusses his experiences with barriers in the industry. Often, he sees cases where brands don’t want to adapt to the point where it can become dangerous. Rigidity is great for brands as it allows them to keep their identities and inspire brand advocates, an incredibly important factor for retailers, but if they don’t adapt to what the customers want then you’ll start running into problems. In many cases, digital is much further down the line than you would expect and so they are often left with branding and creative that doesn’t appeal to the customer they want to reach.

Q: How do you effectively measure the success of your tactics?

The problem with measurement is that different things matter to different companies. Amy-Lee explains that Charlotte Tilbury is more than happy being a content-led brand, but this will never help with KPIs. This is obviously not the same for all retailers, and so it can feel that measurement is sort of arbitrary without a universal benchmark.

Each customer is different, and they interact with your brand in different ways. So something that is important to measure is the loyalty within separate categories. For example, a customer who just buys mascara is very different to a customer who buys foundation. Retaining these customers is one important metric to measure, but if you can graduate a customer from mascara to foundation, this is an even greater success.

Elizabeth’s advice is just to let your customers do the talking – this is the best way to understand how effective your campaigns are, and helps you to test and experiment with new content.

Q: How do we ensure consumers have a seamless experience both online and offline?

Craig argues that many businesses aren’t doing enough to set themselves up to create a coherent online/offline customer experience. A good starting point is to begin to understand the movement of the customer between online and offline, and what is bringing them into the store – something that media can really help with. If you know that it’s your higher-end products that are bringing people in store, which is often the case, then you know that you need to push that.

Before you start preparing this kind of approach, it is important to note that without a single customer-view, an omnichannel approach that covers both online and offline is redundant. You also need to ensure you’re doing as much data capture in store to build out a greater understanding of your customer.

Once you’re ready to begin rolling out an omnichannel approach, it’s difficult to know where to start. One technique that Amy-Lee recommends is a triangular experience of consuming online content, first-time purchasing in store before the consumer replenishes their supplies online.

The key piece of advice that came up repeatedly throughout the discussion was the importance of breaking down silos. It is silos that often create barriers to exceptional experiences across many different parts of the customer journey. Keep your silos in check and the rest is sure to follow.

NMPignite: Challenges and Learning from Optimising Digital Customer Experience

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Alain Portmann, Partner and Head of Strategy & Insight at House of Kaizen, has a long history in the industry, which has shown him that while formulas work in media, it is principles that drive consumer experience. Unfortunately, media on its own will not solve you commercial challenges. We assume that the consumer is a passive and obedient recipient and that they will automatically route to the most optimal decision. We aide this by placing incentives and disincentives to shape consumer behaviour. However, in reality, there are things that we have little control over.

Challenges in Customer Experience

House of Kaizen sits at the middle of the consumer journey, and from this position, they can see 2 of the biggest challenges that come up in Customer Experience. The first challenge is that optimising the customer journey is daunting and messy. It’s virtually impossible to tackle the whole of the customer experience at once. The solution, then, is to break up the journey to understand the pressure points within it.

The second main challenge is that teams focused on retention and teams focused on acquisition are kept in silos, even though often they are working with the same individuals. The siloed approach results in different sets of competing KPIs and teams, preventing a seamless experience for the consumer.

The solution that House of Kaizen uses is the Asset Optimisation Model, which breaks up the customer journey into 6 components that a brand can optimise to improve CX:

  • Customer Interactions
  • Media – both paid and earned
  • Brand & Value Proposition
  • Pricing
  • Content and Forms
  • Product

Case Study: Subscription Client in EMEA

In this case study, research and behavioural insights show that price accounts for 85.3% of reasons to switch from this brand to a competitor. However, was it actually the sticker price or was there something else which was causing friction? Further insights showed that at the core of these concerns was a question of value for money.

With the main problem being pricing, House of Kaizen decided to take a step sideways and look at optimising the content and form assets with a cart redesign. Before the project, 50% of traffic was lost at cart level as consumers didn’t have a good understanding of the product’s value for money. So to remove friction and improve conversion rates, improvements were made to the design, hierarchy of information and the way that the information was split up and presented. Cart optimisation saw an uplift in conversions.

In order to further improve conversion rates, they also optimised the auto-renewal process; something which is a huge source of anxiety for customers. Improvements to remove friction by putting calendar reminders that you’re up for renewal, and generally removing the anxiety from auto-subscribing. However, they did not see any kind of uplift, because this was trying to rationalise something that cannot be rationalised based on data alone.

You cannot be both data-driven and strategic. Data-driven is a short-term thing. The best thing is to be both data-driven and data-informed: pulling from each when you need to.

2 Weeks Till NMPignite – Great Experience: Where Art and Science Meet

There are now just two weeks to go until our NMPignite seminar, which we are hosting alongside Google. The seminar will bring together industry experts in Media, Creative, Experience and Technology to discuss improving the customer journey and overall experience.

The afternoon event will take place at Google’s head office in Kings Cross on Thursday 26th July, and will look to break down silos and explore how to integrate media, data measurement, technology and creative to deliver a high-quality end-to-end user experience and improve customer loyalty.

The digital ecosystem is maturing. Data is playing an even more integral role in how we understand the consumer and their online journey, which is providing incredible insights to guide marketing efforts. Where we once were worried about which channels to run our activity on, we now want to create a seamless, easy experience for the customer.

We’ve seen that silos have become an almost permanent figure in our industry; creating barriers between media, creative and experience. It’s virtually impossible to develop a seamless user experience when your development is split up itself.

This seminar will be the first time the NMPi, DQ&A and the newly acquired Joystick will appear on stage together. You’ll hear from top experts at Harvey Nichols, House of Kaizen and Charlotte Tilbury as they discuss how they developed flawless customer experiences.  

We’ll also be having an illuminating keynote from the Founder and Creative Director at Satore Studio: Tupac Martir. A lighting designer by trade, Martir specialises in creating awe-inspiring visual designs for companies such as Dior, Adidas and Gucci.

You can join us at Google’s Kings Cross offices on the 26th of July, or register for our livestream, below.

The 4 Things Every Retailer Needs to Know Before Going International

Last week’s Retail (R)Evolution hosted by Pitney Bowes explored how global e-commerce is evolving, and NMPi’s CEO, Luke Judge, was there to share his expertise on cross-border marketing along with Feng Chang from Rue La La and Jodi Goldberg from Google.

The panel session highlighted four key themes, delving into the strategies that every international retailer should know for building successful cross-border marketing campaigns.

Choosing a Territory

If your business is new to international e-commerce then it can be daunting to decide where to begin. Each market is unique, even if they share a language they will have their own nuances, so how do you choose?

We don’t advise going global initially, instead look at your data and see what it is telling you. For instance, brand awareness will have a massive impact on your success within a market. If a consumer is aware of your brand it boosts their propensity to buy.  

Using the likes of Google Trends you can gain insight into which countries have a greater search volume for your brand terms. Make sure to check this yearly, just because the market is always changing.

Brand awareness, whilst a good indication, is not the only area to consider. What language is your existing site in; if its English will that affect the likelihood of an international consumer making a purchase? Look at areas which may have a greater population of expats, or perhaps areas where you have a price advantage.

All of these factors come into play when selecting which markets to enter, but once you have selected a market there is still more to be done.

Choosing your Inventory

One of the first things you have to set up when you’re preparing to break into international markets is your inventory. The products you sell need regional interest and be mindful of seasons. For example, due to the difference in seasons, if you are a retailer in the US or UK countries like Australia or South Africa are great for getting rid of old seasonal stock.

Having a big inventory to choose from is useful, but it isn’t crucial. Don’t discount the power of a small product selection in which everything has a high demand. Also, having exclusive rights to sell a high demand product will greatly increase your chances of success.

How to Price

If you cannot be price competitive within a market, and your products are not exclusive then it is very unlikely you will be able to steal market share and beat out the competition. This should make it one of your top priorities, especially when working with a limited inventory.

Price conversion, whilst it might seem obvious, is something we recommend having in place before expanding into a market. Not only do your products sell better when in the local currency, but helps to avoid confusion and mismatched pricing between your Google Shopping campaigns and your Paid Social campaigns for example.

Don’t forget to factor in the extras such as import taxes and international shipping, as we sometimes see customers abandoning their baskets after seeing additional costs.

Factor in International Shipping

On that note, campaigns tend to perform better and drive a greater ROI when shipping promotions are included. When you’re breaking into a new market, including an offer for free international shipping in your ads will often result in a higher conversion rate, but make sure to be upfront about the thresholds of this promotion. No consumer likes to get to the end of a purchase and realise they don’t qualify for your promotion.

Example: “Free Shipping to the UK when you spend over $50”

You might be tempted to take advantage of one of the many sales holidays across the globe like Singles Day in China, Click Frenzy in Australia, and Black Friday, which has become a truly worldwide phenomenon. However, when it’s not your domestic market you may find that despite having great offers you lose out on sales because of international shipping. Unless you can compete, it’s better to avoid getting lost in the crowd and hold off on your international promotions until after the holidays. We often see better performance when clients offer free international shipping outside holiday sales periods as it removes the need to devalue inventory and reduces competition.

If shipping promotions are not right for your business, ensure that you find the right balance of product cost and shipping cost. Too high a shipping cost, and much of your ad spend gone into bringing them to the site will be wasted. Too high a product cost, and you’ll struggle to get potential customers onto the site. It’s important to keep your basket abandonment rates in mind to help you strike the perfect balance.

Cross-Channel Approach

Each marketing channel has their own strength and weaknesses. For instance, visual channels such as Google Shopping, Display and Social Media grab the attention of the consumer and help to increase awareness of your highlighted products. Paid Search, on the other hand, is great for getting the consumer to convert.

Just as different channels have different outcomes, marketers have a range of goals they need to achieve. It would be unwise to place all your eggs in one basket and expect for an adequate ROI.

Create a holistic approach to your international marketing strategies and make sure all of your channels are communicating with each other. If you track Search conversions on AdWords, Display conversions on Criteo and Facebook conversions through the Facebook pixel, you might be triple-counting your sales and wasting all-important budgets. Complete oversight is one of the biggest ways to ensure success when breaking out internationally.

The Future

In a global world where the distance between countries is getting smaller and smaller, and our connection to each other becomes greater all the time,  it’s necessary to keep an eye on the latest innovations in the industry, especially those that will be maturing in the 2-3 years. We expect 3 big changes:

  • 1-click payments will become the norm on Social Media platforms
  • There will widespread uptake of 2hr delivery vis-a-vis Amazon Prime Now
  • China’s advanced image recognition technology will expand into western countries like the UK and US.

The Big Debate

NMPi’s inaugural Big Debate kicked off at Google King’s Cross, with marketers and thought leaders from across the industry coming together to discuss some of the biggest challenges we are facing today.The inspiration behind The Big Debate was to provide different perspectives in our industry and challenge many of our enshrined perceptions about the way we work.

The first half of the afternoon was focused on how data is changing the world, with presentations on topics such as uses of data, the death of digital marketing, and preparing for the unknown.

NMPi’s Kate Jervis talked about how marketers can swim when they’re drowning in data. Sarah Ward of Pitney Bowes spoke about the difference between known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. Nicola Hollow from Practicology gave advice on how the digital marketer can survive the death of digital, while Freeview’s Owen Jenkinson turned his attention to utilising small data. The four then sat for a panel debate, answering burning questions from our audience.

With all of this information, it was time for a break, during which attendees were able to play around with some of the latest tech. Our charity partners for this event, MSF, were able to provide us with VR headsets, giving attendees a “doctor’s eye view” of life in a crisis area. We also had AR posters, which would play some of MSF’s videos when scanned with the Zappar app. There were also chances to donate to our fundraising efforts, and buy tickets for our charity prize draw.

After the break came the event’s namesake: The Big Debate. Featuring two heavyweights of the digital world, Damien Bennett and Lewis Lenssen, the slightly controversial topic of attribution was pulled apart in a fiery debate, before Google’s Rich Morris, UK Head of GA360 Sales, weighed in. The seminar was wrapped up by our phenomenal keynote: Javid Abdelmoneim, UK President of MSF. His speech on the way MSF uses technology and comms was a highlight for many, proving an inspiring lift after a day of discussing data and attribution.

All in all, The Big Debate was an overwhelming success. The high turnout saw a spectacular fundraising effort of nearly £1000, which will of course by matched by NMPi.

NMPi’s Big Debate: How MSF Uses Tech and Comms

Javid Abdelmoneim is the UK President of Doctors Without Borders and featured as our keynote speaker.

He is an A&E doctor, who still works for the NHS when in the UK, but he also volunteers in crisis areas across the globe.

Communication is a huge part of what MSF do, with a founding principle of temoignage: that they will bear witness. In situations where the populations they are helping cannot speak up or do not have the agency to do so, MSF and its doctors will do so on their behalf. This in part comes from more traditional avenues such as press releases, but in recent years they have also moved into less formal awareness campaigns on social media.

Back in the summer of 2016, while on a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean, Javid recorded the charity’s first Instagram story as well as a series of Snapchat videos. Last year, he hosted a Facebook Live campaign from Moscow with the World Health Organisation. Tweets are sent out in all languages, and there are different accounts for different areas of work. One thing is for certain: MSF knows how to get the word out there.

In general, though, smartphones have changed the way MSF work. In times before smartphones, it could often be very difficult to warn hospitals that trauma patients were coming in from the field because of a lack of phone signal. Nowadays, that problem is solved by using WhatsApp and the WiFi network. It is a huge development in the way that doctors in the field are able to communicate with the hospitals. Looking to the future, portable WiFi is on the wishlist for Javid.

Smartphones have also revolutionised the way they work medically. MSF has developed a tool which is added to a phone’s camera that allows them to take microscopic photography, aiding in the diagnostic process. Similar tools allow doctors to get a look at the back of the eye to check for cataracts or whether malaria is attacking the brain.

If you’d like to join us in supporting MSF, please go to our Just Giving page.