IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 7 Mar 2011

Insights for future marketing technologies

Alex IevinsLast week I attended the TFM&A (Technology for Marketing and Advertising) event at Earls Court, and picked up some really interesting and helpful marketing advice for businesses using today’s technologies. I wanted to share some of the highlights for consideration in retailer’s future marketing strategies.

Whilst it may be no surprise the key topics were around social media, website optimisation, and e-marketing. The first keynote speaker of the day started with a key piece of advice for any business, suggesting:

“If you do nothing else with social media, then use it to find out what people are saying about your brand”.

He then moved on to App development.  Whilst App development is high on the agenda for many organisations, they are certainly not cheap to develop.  Some businesses are instead finding an existing App which suits the needs of their customer base, and simply sponsoring it to gain the full association and brand recognition, without the associated time and cost in development.  One rather amusing example was given.  It centered around an App called ‘Sit or Squat’ which showed a map with all the publicly available toilets. This App was sponsored by ‘Charmin’, (now Cushelle) a company who produce toilet rolls!  This allowed Crushelle to gain all the relevant branding benefits without a huge investment in App development.

One of the highlights from the day had to be listening to the latest thinking from Facebook’s UK commercial Director, who began the session with some rather astonishing facts.

  • Facebook has now reached 30 million active users in the UK
  • The fastest growing demographic of Facebook users is those in the 35 years plus age bracket.

With these types of figures, Facebook becomes an option for the majority of businesses, even those who need to target the (dare I say it!) older market segments, and wider demographics who were previously not Facebook users.  With the potential to communicate with half of the population, the reach of Facebook is just phenomenal.

Additional news to me was the different ways in which businesses are now using Facebook Ads. This has particular value to retailers. There are now about 7 different types of ads which facilitate polling, requesting product samples, driving traffic to; the company website, facebook page, event, application or group, and adding the ‘Like’ link to ads which allows the advert to appear on the newsfeeds of friends to gain higher impressions and views of the advert.  As part of the growth in Facebook Ads the targeting tool to is now becoming even more accurate, and therefore companies are increasingly able to reach their desired market though Facebook’s very precise tools.

Research based on user numbers of the Starbucks website vs their Facebook page suggested that in the future years, Starbucks may cease to have a website, as their Facebook page simply engages more customers, and the number of visitors to their Facebook page far outweighs their website visitors.

In terms of website and online optimisation, it seemed that they key message was around the use of video content and its increasing importance with the likes of Google and other search engines.  It was suggested that videos are up to fifty times more likely to show up in a search engine listing, over a regular web page! Through showing this video as a thumbnail in the search list it is creating much higher click through rates for organisations.  For retailers showing video catwalk footage of their clothing range, this might be a great option for improving optimisation and therefore basket value.

One of the most interesting things I heard was that Google are in fact developing voice recognition technology, so that at some point if key words are spoken within the video footage, Google will be able to recognise this and bring this up in search listings.  Pretty amazing stuff!

Finally, it seems that marketers and businesses are sometimes guilty of treating ‘social media’ as a separate entity to other marketing channels in the business. The key message was that social media is just another means to communicate with your market.

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