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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.