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Insights on brand experience across digital, social & mobile marketing

SXSW 2012 lacked a big breakout star. But that’s a good thing. Because digital should never be just the next bright shiny object.

What we believe is absolutely critical for brands in the digital space–everyone, right?–is to build their digital strategy through the lens of experience. Because experience is what consumers remember, it’s what differentiates and endures after Austin.

We looked at digital trends out of SXSW (and beyond) through an experience lens and made some bets about what we think will shift the digital marketing space this year.

From UX design to mobile to gamification to Big Data and beyond, we think the best digital answers the question "Am I making people love my brand?"

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Insights on brand experience across digital, social & mobile marketing

  3. DIGITAL EXPERIENCE: A POV“Loyalty counts more and costs less than awareness.” I read What we believe is absolutely critical for brands investing inthat in the Harvard Business Review in 2001. At the risk of the digital space—and that’s everyone, right?—is to build theirsnarky comments about aging HBR readers, I’d like to use it digital strategy through the lens of experience. Byto set the stage for the following articles on key trends in “experience” we mean creating something that stands out,digital brand experience in 2012, at SXSW and beyond, that’s special and memorable. It could mean a compelling usebecause it still gets at a fundamental issue. of a digital platform to enhance consumers’ experience of the brand. It could mean designing a new experience in the digitalWhen Kristen D. Sandberg wrote this 11 years ago, I believe space that’s never been done before.she meant that marketers would get more bang for theirbuck by making customers love them than by spending lots But it shouldn’t   just mean creating a video or attempting to “goof money to generate awareness. It’s an argument for depth viral”. In a world where consumers’ time and attention is moreof engagement over breadth of impressions. precious than ever, it is more important than ever to treat every touchpoint as special. Our own research shows 75% ofLots has changed in 11 years. In 2001, “awareness” meant consumers globally say “if a brand wants to get my attention ittraditional advertising, which was and still is expensive. In has to do something special”.2001, there was no Facebook, YouTube or Twitter; Googlewas still a private company run by 20-somethings. Mobile So yes, what I read all those years back is still true—though Idevices—fundamental to most of what we talk about at might tweak it to say “Engagement counts more and costs lessplaces like SXSW—were simply something to call home with. than awareness”. It’s even more true now, in a more digital world: making people love you not only keeps currentNow, in 2012, “awareness” has become seemingly cheap- customers sticky but also inspires admirers to talk about you.thanks precisely to all these inventions. P&G, the world’sbiggest ad spender, announced it will reduce billions in its Ultimately, digital brand experiences—and every brandmarketing spend by shifting its emphasis to digital marketing. experience is at least partially digital now—should be anThe perception is that if brands just go digital they can tick answer to the question, “Am I making people love my brand?”off the awareness box at a discount. It’s tempting to simplyreplace one form of awareness with another and move from Liz Bigham is SVP, Director of Brand expensive traditional model to an inexpensive digital one.But that would be a mistake.
  4. In a world where consumers’ timeand attention is more precious thanever, it is more important than everto treat every touchpoint as special.
  5. THE WEB IS READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP“We need an app.” If theres one phrase that throws me Everything we do digitally has to play out across all ourinto a tizzy (like Madelyn Kahn in "Clue") its this. devices, therefore it has to be simple and visual. I wontBecause 90% of the time you don’t (see footnote). take the time to read 100 words of copy on my phone, but I will get sucked in by clean design and powerful graphics.But while this app craze has at times made my jobharder, I do think it has done something that is Another exciting aspect of the beautification of the web: itfundamentally great for the web: It has made people levels the playing field. My (cough-cough) year-old momused to—nay, come to expect—simple, elegant and easy- and my four year-old daughter both use Instagram. Theyto-use digital interfaces. And it is spreading into the have different creative takes on the world, but it doesn’tplatforms and sites we use on a daily basis. matter. The beauty of this and all increasingly visual web experiences: it doesnt reward the most savvy or those withLook at the most recent web success stories. Pinterest: the most time on their hands; but the most passionate. Andvisual, elegant simplicity. Instagram: it makes everyday isnt that what we should always strive to do?moments look like high art with the simple touch of a"tree". it gives everyone an online portfolio Leesa Wytock is VP, Digital Director.Tyra Banks would smize over. Even Facebook, arguablyone of the most non-aesthetic places on the web, added Footnote: Instead of saying “I need an app,” what youa timeline that puts the photos in your life at the really should be saying is “I need a mobile strategy”. Anforefront. app is just one component of a larger campaign.As a person who follows the KISS approach to UXdesign (keep it simple stupid), this is an exciting time forthe web. I feel it must be like when (insert smart yetrelevant analogy to architecture or art). Out: gradient metal sheens on over-animated sites. In:understated simplicity that allows peoples lives andstories to take center stage. If you think about it, this issuch a natural progression for our hyper-connected,global world. Not everyone speaks the same language,jargon, nomenclature, but we can all understand and beimmediately affected by a photo.
  6. Everything we do digitally has toplay out across all our devices,therefore it has to be simple andvisual.
  7. THE NEXT BIG THING? CONTROLLING CHANCEThere’s a lot of buzz around the app Highlight coming out Think about the experience, not your silos. It may beof SXSWi. It’s a clever combination of location-aware logical to organize content based on your internalservices tapping into social networks to help you see people organization, but it limits the breadth of the experience.physically nearby you might know or have something in Find ways of encouraging the cross-pollination of ideas.common with. Other than abetting your voyeuristic streak, Create the space and opportunity for chance’s trying to help you connect with other people, digitally Physically and digitally in your marketing programs, createand in-person. the space for the chance encounters to happen. If every minute of your program is mapped out in advance, you’reIt taps into a larger trend around managing serendipity likely missing the opportunity to enrich the experience.that’s relevant online and at in-person events. We all lovechance encounters with interesting people, or insights into Use the tools that make sense for your audience. Notour own world we get from learning about something everyone has digital phones, nor is willing to give sometotally unrelated. These chance encounters and connections app total access to their Facebook account. Let the interestsare at the heart of innovation and creativity. and profiles of your audience guide which tools you embrace.Where Highlight succeeds is by helping to manage andencourage those chance encounters. With a critical mass of In short, we need to celebrate the context. Content issocially-networked, app-downloading people (like at everywhere, and chances are your content could beSXSW), you can use the app to meet new folks and have accessed in other ways than your event or experience. Theinteresting conversations. context around the content is what makes an experience so powerful—those chance encounters with new people, orSome of the frustrations around this year’s SXSWi different ideas. By incorporating serendipity into yourconference itself were precisely due to the feeling that there planning, you’ll be taking advantage of the realwere fewer opportunities for chance encounters. For opportunity your experience and program represents.example, with so many focused “campuses,” it was muchharder to jump from a session on user interface design toone on the neuroscience of marketing, without walking for20 minutes and hoping you can get in. Tom Michael is a Senior Strategist.We can’t control serendipity, but in our programs andexperiences we certainly can embrace it.
  8. Physically and digitally in yourmarketing programs, create thespace for the chance encounters tohappen.
  9. GAME ON AND THEN YOU DIE, AGAIN AND AGAINFor as long as I can remember, games have been my Marketing can’t ignore what some of us have known allreason to be. Now, finally, I feel vindicated: a recent set of along: that games are good for business. Now it’s a multi-studies (covered in the Wall Street Journal) suggest that billion-dollar industry.  Some of us have been competing ourgaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. whole lives, and now it’s cool to be caught playing Words with Friends. We can point to large-scale studies to defendSo games are good for you. What took so long? these once deemed “waste of time” activities.Maybe it’s that nobody was paying much attention until And what about Minecraft, the amazingly simple block-Mark Zuckerberg came along with the biggest gameboard building experience which has grown massively due to wordever. Gaming is the new black and all marketing must be of mouth? Underlying the success of Minecraft is somethinggamified. Is gamification even a word? that we marketers have to keep in mind, and that’s the power of good storytelling. Some game experiences likeThese new studies tell just half of the story. Those of us who Minecraft can tap into creativity, and innovative thinking. Astraded GPAs for capture the flag back in the analogue days a brand experience marketing engineer, those are thecan tell you that gaming impacts more than meets the eye— games we get excited by.not just creativity and decision-making but also leadershipand entrepreneurialism. Whats happened with gaming, as with photography, music  and publishing, is that it has become totally accessible. AllAnd here’s my beef: whats missing from most of the recent the pieces are in your pocket. Gaming is finally cool. Wewildly popular games is invention. Weve lost the chaos of will soon have the study that proves that World of Warcrafthaving to dream up a game from scratch. Technology staves-off early on-set dementia. That will be the daymakes everything too easy. Wheres the iPad game where someone will have to shoot me, for real.players have to invent the game first, and then play it? Wehear about professed improvement in laparoscopic surgical Our world is one big game, and were all playing to win.technique due to pushing those buttons. But what happenedto picking teams, devising a winning strategy, and dealingwith changing situations like when Billy quits because his Steve Mooney is Managing Director of Jack Morton’ssister schooled him? Black Ops and Red Dead Redemption Boston office. have nothing on a five-hour marathon game of Risk.  
  10. Gaming is the new black and allmarketing must be gamified.
  11. MOBILE PAYMENTS: FIX THIS EXPERIENCEAfter almost 20 years of minimal consumer-facing innovation statement credits start rolling in when you check-in toin the payments vertical, all the recent buzz has centered places. No special phones and special readers at the pointaround the notion of mobile payments. Why carry a wallet of sale. No slowing of the check-out process. Just a greatfull of credit cards when your phone can do the same job customer experience.and also incorporate loyalty points, coupons, and send real-time offers from Macy’s the minute you walk into Which brings us to another very important issue: until allBloomingdales? Near Field Communication (NFC) solutions merchants accept mobile payments, mass adoption willlike Isis and Google Wallet and Cloud-based products like never happen. Brands need to take away pain points forLevelUp are making big bets that consumers agree. merchants, not add to them. Asking a local merchant to invest in NFC or some other modification to their POS just isSo, then, why is that mobile payments technologies have yet not realistic. And until all dry cleaners and coffee shopsto take off? It was almost two years ago that Verizon, T- take mobile payments, customers won’t care.Mobile, and AT&T announced that they were forming thejoint venture known as Isis. Arguably the most important So, what are mobile payments brands to do? For one,reason: mobile payments brands have yet to clearly leverage the power of experience and one-to-onearticulate a real value proposition to consumers to drive marketing. Empowering early adopters (like all of theadoption.  What’s the experience consumers are truly hipsters at SXSW) to share their experiences with thelooking for?  It’s not convenience; they’re bringing their masses not only helps to make consumers aware but alsowallets with them anyway. breaks down adoption anxiety. People listen to nerds, especially when they have something interesting toThe real opportunity for mobile payments brands is to make say. Give early adopters a platform to become evangeliststheir experience absolutely simple, intuitive, and easy for a for mobile payments technology and watch consumers andconsumer to adopt offers, pay for something, and get credit merchants hop on their favorite merchant. Asking consumers to take theirphone out, open an app, select a card, and then pay is toomuch—especially if you factor in the guy standing in line Doug Wilber is Director of Business Strategy.behind you at Starbucks who just wants to pay for hismorning latte with cash.Companies should look to Amex and foursquare. Simply linkyour Amex to your foursquare account and the
  12. The real opportunity for mobilepayments brands is to make theirexperience absolutely simple.
  13. EXPERIENCE THIS! SOCIAL+LOCAL+MOBILE+LIVE“SoLoMo”—AKA “social + local + mobile”—is not only a It wasn’t a hard sell but a genuine experience with agreat buzzword, it’s a hugely valuable phenomenon for product that solved a problem. Online response wasany brand seeking to engage people through live events tremendous, with thousands of tweets, photos and check-insand experiences. (I think that includes just about every posted from in and around these mobile brand experiences.brand.) In most cases, people at events are already ontheir mobile devices snapping pictures, tweeting and If you want to make your live experience resonate SoLoMochecking in. By adding social + local + mobile to these style, think about how your activation fits a customer’s needexperiences, we have a chance to engage in a or interest at a particular place and point in time. Facilitateconversation with attendees on multiple platforms, the conversation: let it be natural and in your customer’scombining the in-person experience with online in real time voice, but make sure you are giving them compellingand beyond any single event. reasons to talk beyond your brand or product message. Use technology to help measure and monitor theSocial makes it easy for your customers to broadcast any conversation, and participate in the conversation tomessage in their own voice, but they have to have maximize the impact and turn a point in time into ansomething to talk about. Think about your event in terms of ongoing relationship.telling your story in an interesting way, and what anattendee might see or want to share. Is there something Madelyn Varella is VP of Digital Strategy.remarkable or compelling about your product that is “must-share,” or could it be the activation itself where people totalk about a great experience they had?One of the stand-outs at SXSW 2012 was Chevy, which dida great job of amplifying and extending their reach byoffering attendees a brand experience that addressed areal need: finding a ride around town. SXSW is spread outover dozens of Austin locations, and getting back and forthbetween venues can be a challenge. Brand ambassadorsdrove branded Chevy vehicles around the streets ofdowntown, offering free rides to any attendee. Attendeesflagged down available cars and were taken wherever theyneeded to go.
  14. Think about your event in terms oftelling your story in an interestingway, and what an attendee mightsee or want to share.
  15. THE BIG DEAL ABOUT BIG DATAThe old adage goes, “I know half my advertising dollars are #2: Accurate multichannel analyticswasted; I just dont know which half.” If you are ready to As marketing channels continue to fragment across owned,get a better idea, get ready to embrace Big Data. Slated to earned and paid media, marketers are seeking new ways tobe a $50 billion industry by 2017, Big Data represents the show ROI. Big Data, when analyzed properly, provides aunthinkably vast but now vastly less unwieldy mass of data clearer picture of which brand experiences contribute theavailable to companies to better understand their business, most to the brand’s bottom line and long term viability.their customers and how to optimize their brand experience. Accurate multichannel analytics can also help brands beThat, in a nutshell, is why Gartner predicts that by 2017 more strategic in their marketing spends based on profilesCMOs will outspend CIOs on information technology: audience’s initiatives resonate with most. Such analysis canbecause data can help them design better customer determine key metrics regarding customer value: how muchexperiences and derive better marketing ROI. Smart it costs to acquire customers and what budget must bemarketers and their partners can turn mounds of data into allocated to retain them.actionable insights. #3: Predictive analysisHere are three ways brands can leverage Big Data to Between sky-high distribution costs, an increasinglydesign a better customer experience: competitive market, and a digital landscape that enables consumers to make more informed decisions than ever,#1: Personalize to profit there’s never been a better reason for brands to get aheadGrocery stores and online retailers have long used of their consumers. Leveraging predictive analysis throughpurchase history and basic demographic information to Big Data is helping Walmart anticipate demand for watergenerate tailored offers for customers, but today’s targeting bottles before tornadoes hit and ADP call its businesscan go far beyond straightforward suggestive selling. customers when the time is right to close a sale. BeyondBrands can personalize in-store experiences by providing increased sales and reduced operating costs, Big Data issales associates with guidance to recommend products to helping companies like Walmart and ADP provide moreshoppers. Facial recognition technology can trigger a relevant and value-laden brand experiences that consumerscustomer’s favorite music to play in a dressing room. will seek out.Purchase history can trigger outbound communications tocustomers with personalized offers. New information Ben Grossman is a Digital Strategist.captured ensures that brand experiences get more personalevery time.
  16. Smart marketers and their partnerscan turn mounds of data intoactionable insights.
  17. CREATING SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPSNo one has ever said, "Im in a relationship with your brand." Brands must create  true social experiences in order toBut the truth is, they are. activate relationships with their audiences. These experiences can range from brilliant hands-on productPsychologist Robert Sternberg identifies eight kinds of love introductions to excellent customer service interactions. Nobased on three elements foundational to human relationships: one ever bought a multi-million dollar business solutionIntimacy, Passion and Commitment. I hypothesize the because of a billboard. The same holds true for simplyrelationship between a person and a brand can range from creating a Facebook page, Youtube channel or Twitter"Nonlove" (the absence of all three elements) and feed."Companionate Love" (which includes Intimacy andCommitment) to “Loyal Brand Advocates” (the best kind). Social media is a relationship building platform. Experiences are different. Effective experiences tell a story,Psychology also teaches us that both human and brand they are immersive, engaging, interactive, intimate,relationships—good ones, that is—are based on similar values: personal, authentic, the list goes on. Make sure yourtransparency, communication, engagement, interaction, brands social media presence is experience-based, notrespect and authenticity. Interestingly, these same elements broadcast-based.are applied to the social space by the most effective brand-driven experiences. Those brands that fail at activating the Finally, think in terms of ecosystem, not singularsocial media channel largely ignore these principles in their destinations. The tools and platforms available to us areapproach. incredible. Each one of these gives us a new way to engage with our audiences to build experiences whichGetting social right is imperative to brand success. Why? result in relationships. How are you using the latestAccording to recent research (from Chadwick, Martin & Sharing, Playing, Networking, Buying and LocalizationBailey), "50% of consumers will purchase your brand after tools in your ecosystem to create social media experiencesLiking it on Facebook" and "51% of consumers will for your audiences?  In the words of Deb Schultz,recommend your brand after Liking it on Facebook." "Technology Changes, Humans Dont." Remember this asAccording to Erik Qualmans “Socialnomics,” only "14% of you build and manage your ecosystem. Its not about theconsumers trust advertising" whereas "90% of consumers trust platform. Its about the experience and ultimately, thepeer recommendations". relationship with your audiences.Relationships are also based on experiences. Social media Ian McGonnigal is SVP, Client Strategy and Brandisn’t one and done. Performance.
  18. Brands must create true socialexperiences in order to activaterelationships with their audiences.
  19. SXSW: LIFE’S A BEACHLike anyone I’m constantly changing the lenses through As a brand experience agency, we collaborate with ourwhich I view brands and experiences. Expectations—what I clients to help them understand it’s not always wise to trythink an experience is going to be like—are a massively and boil the ocean. At whatever level brands want to getdistorting lens. If I’m expecting something to be great, and involved, they should do it with strategy and purpose andit’s merely pretty good, I see it through a lens of make the most of it. It’s unwise to come to the beach“disappointing”. without the right bottle of SPF tanning lotion.I had high expectations visiting SXSWi for the first time in2012. I’ve attended scores of massively large-scale global- Robb Trost is Director of Client Services.sized events in my time, so I felt well equipped to makeassessments of the SXSW experience. I landed and wasreminded I haven’t experienced everything.Visiting the festival to see what brands were doing was theequivalent of people watching beach-goers at the first signof spring. The spectacle was overwhelming. From themoment I landed, brands were clamoring to be the first togreet and welcome me to the beautiful city of Austin. I cameprepared with my SXSW app along with the tech tips-and-tricks to finding what I needed while visiting. Even on mysmartphone, brands were sneaking their way into the titlesof sessions. It was apparent brands were desperately tryingto be everything to everyone, everywhere.Chevy did a great job at activating their sponsorship bytying their objectives to what attendees need; power stationseverywhere for their electronics and free transportation inand around Austin. On the other hand, I knew that MillerLite was a title sponsor, but I saw very little on-the-ground ortechnology-inclusion from their activation. And AMEX’s Jay-Z concert was amazing, but under-promoted (really).
  20. [At SXSW] brands were desperatelytrying to be everything to everyone,everywhere.
  21. Learn MoreJACK MORTON WORLDWIDE is a global brand experience agency. We create experiences that strengthenrelationships between brands and the people who matter most to them–thereby helping our clients become talked-about experience brands. Rated among the top marketing service agencies worldwide, we integrate live and onlineexperiences, digital and social media, and branded 3D environments that engage and inspire consumers, businesspartners and employees. Jack Morton has a staff of 500 employees in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific that drive ouridea-led agency culture and is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE: IPG).To join our conversation about how experience brands behave in the digital world, please connect with us online:Web site: