With the DTCS in full swing today, and wine industry tweeps chirping all day long about the on-goings, I was interested to see a side conversation on the placement of Twitter or Facebook addresses on wine labels. Healthy conversation ensued, with the majority of the social media advocates screaming YES!
I didn't see many in the conversation against the idea, but it was more of a preaching to the choir kind of inquiry - asked on Twitter and in a blog by someone whose followers are engaging in the social space heavily. For the full conversation, read here.
The post got me thinking about the basic needs of a wine consumer throughout the purchase path, and the role which information and access to the brand plays at each stage. To start, let's consider the basic path, as broken down to 5 stages on the way to brand loyalty:
Consumer Path to Purchase and (ultimately) Loyalty
At each stage in the path to purchase, there are specific customer needs in order to affect a movement to the next stage. And, there are marketing and sales strategies implemented at each to help encourage continued engagement and momentum forward. Ultimately, the goal is to drive towards loyalty, delivering repeat engagements with a brand, becoming a brand advocate to friends and colleagues, and delivering share of wallet to the brand.
At the risk of oversimplifying the process, the following identifies a few of the activities which can be undertaken at each of the stages, corresponding with the basic consumer consideration at each stage:
So, what role typically does packaging play in the purchase process? The role of the wine label is generally to appeal to the consumers need and provide information relevant to their decision making process. Brand name, varietal, region and vineyard all deliver necessary information. Winemaker’s notes even better. A winery URL to encourage incremental information to be found – great. In this age of smart phones, it’s easy and common to pull out your iPhone and dial up the latest Vino app for consumer reviews on the product under consideration. Easy, as well, to call up the winery website and see if any additional information on the product may be found.
So based on this, would a Twitter address on the label assist in the decision making process? Social media engagements most certainly play a role in the continuum. However, the act of "fanning" or "following" typically indicates that a customer has already experienced and enjoyed a wine, and is willing to engage further with a brand. By this stage, the consumer is likely past the label and packaging, moving deeper into "conversation" with the brand. It’s not likely that someone reading the label in the aisle of BevMo will “fan” a winery, expecting real time conversation to begin and drive them over the edge to purchase.
Now, having said this, let’s assume the consumer buys your product, brings it to a dinner party and enjoys your 2005 Merlot with friends that evening. They look at the wine bottle to investigate the brand a little further, see your URL and Twitter address and make a note to visit for more information. Nice. No harm and an opportunity to begin the path towards engagement and loyalty.
So, does it hurt to put a Twitter address on a wine label? Likely no. Does it provide the information necessary to help a consumer make a first purchase decision? Probably not. Will it encourage deeper investigation into a product they’ve enjoyed? Perhaps.
Personally, I'm more excited about the potential that QR codes present for wine label application. WOW. More on that one later.
It’s no revelation to say that we that we live in a digital world. Technology is prevalent. And no more so than with today’s “smart” phones.
What is a “smart phone”? Your Blackberry or iPhone. Or, per O’Reilly Media,
“A Smartphone combines the functions of a cellular phone and a handheld computer in a single device. It differs from a normal phone in that it has an operating system and local storage, so users can add and store information, send and receive email, and install programs to the phone as they could with a PDA.”
Consider these facts:
There are almost as many people buying smart phones as there are people buying laptops: 115 million smart phones were purchased worldwide last year
Website visitors using a mobile device increased 34 percent year-over-year, to 56.9 million in July 2009 according to The Nielsen Company.
The most popular non-phone activities among smart phone users are visiting websites (80%), taking photos (74%), and using email (73%).
Over half (53%) of U.S. smart phone users download mobile content from the web at least once a day or thereabouts, and click on mobile ads.
Thirty-five percent request coupons or further information and a quarter (24%) make purchases.
eBay alone saw mobile sales worth more than a half a billion dollars this past year, which equates to 5 million item transactions.
In this recent holiday season, according to a recent Motorola report, 51% of 2009 holiday shoppers across 11 countries used their cell phones to compare prices, find consumer product reviews and locate discounts while in stores shopping this past holiday season. Consumers are using digital tools like their cell phones more than ever, to inform which brands they purchase, where, when, how and at what price point they will purchase.
The media is clearly abuzz with iPhone mania these days. And of course, there are a number of wine specific iPhone apps; they aggregate wines available in the U.S. market and provide reviews, price comparisons, consumer user generated content, food & wine pairings, etc.. See VinTank’s report here for a complete evaluation on the latest.
But if you aren’t in the market to build your own iPhone app, it's still important to ensure you’re giving consumers the information and experience they need via their smart phones. Your email and website executions are critical places to start.
Example Mobile Email from Sony
Email Marketing for the Mobile Age
A recent report by Experian CheetahMail revealed that over a quarter of total U.S. consumers now read emails on their smart phone. Most emails are being deleted before being read, however. The main reasons? Poor formatting and a lack of brand recognition. If you’re marketing to your own list, brand recognition shouldn’t be an issue. But formatting can be.
Think about the last email you sent. Open it up on your own cell phone. Can you read it? Does it load quickly? Does it give you quick information to take action? Best practices in email marketing have always been to keep them short, to the point, easily read/understood and with a clear call to action. Now more than ever it’s important to follow that direction.
In addition, ensuring your emails are relevant to your audience is critical: segment your list for appropriate messaging, and optimize your subject line to ensure action is taken by that segment. The closer you can make your brand, message and promotion relevant and meaningful to your customer, the better. If you only had a few seconds on a computer to entice the reader to open your email, you have even less on a phone.
Most importantly, make it easy for the consumer to access more information. A clear message that links directly to a web page that allows the consumer to complete the desired action is critical. Slow page loading on a smart phone can lead to huge frustration if the information sought is not found quickly due to image loading or excessive and unnecessary content.
Refining your website to meet the needs of a mobile user
How well is your website being browsed on a smart phone? Want to see something scary? Check out these sites to see how your site may be presented on a handset:
Clearly one solution is to create a mobile website (.mobi) or top level domain specific to a mobile user experience. This will allow for a distinct website which you can market to your mobile users, and which presents a more mobile-relevant presentation and click path.
Not ready for a mobile website strategy? You can still review your site for best practices in clear navigation, simple messaging and a reduced “click to purchase” path. Ensuring the same can help your site read well in a mobile environment. And please, if you do create a mobile site, make sure you offer access to that site clearly from your .com home page: “Click here to read on your mobile phone”.
For mobile web navigation, make sure the action desired to be taken by your audience is no more than 1-2 clicks from the homepage. Slow loading pages on mobile phones will make people leave quickly if they’re left waiting for loads and having to click through too many pages.
In addition, since browsing in a mobile environment can mean a lot of scrolling around pages to find what you’re looking for, consider breaking the traditional rule of keeping navigation and page frame consistency… a change in the basic landscape can quickly indicate to a customer that they’ve successfully moved to another page. Keep only the necessary framed items (logo, homepage link, headers) consistent.
Finally, in a web environment, the navigation is still critical. But it needs to be short and directed. Your .com environment may have the task of addressing several potential audiences, each with distinct goals. In a mobile environment, consider what you want to accomplish and for whom. Keep it as narrow as possible and it will be far easier to reduce the navigation, page layout and format to the basic elements necessary to guide that audience to its main goal.
It’s no surprise that the mobile world is here to stay. It’s only getting more sophisticated by the day (with some pretty exciting stuff happening in Japan and Europe already). Next holiday season is going to be even “smarter” – use the next 9 months to consider, test and begin finding the mobile strategy that’s right for your business.
Sources: Compete Smart Phone Survey 2009, Forrester Research, 2009, eTailing Group Mobile Survey, 2009, Universal McCann/Platform-A Mobile Survey, 2009, Crowd Science Smartphone Survey, 4/09
Ok, maybe not a fascination, but yes, I listen to Lady Gaga. I admit it. However, it's not because she’s musically talented. It's not because she did a fantastic sado-masochistic presentation of herself at the MTV awards last year. Nor is it because of her amazingly keen sense of fashion. But rather, it's due to the fact that her music gives me something that I need to perform a certain behavior. Something that I can use and embed into an important activity in my life: exercise. And, she provides me with exactly what I need to do it: a monotonous, fast paced, upbeat tempo that is timed to the exact BPMs at which I like to walk.
I found her branded product (music) and am using it in a certain behavioral way that is both meaningful and relevant to me. I need music that’s fast paced at a beat I can work out to (relevant), and that will allow me to continue to perform an exercise that helps me clear my mind, which makes me feel energized and happy when I’m done (meaningful).
She’s connected with me in a way that – regardless of what I feel about her presentation or political position (which by the way, I know nothing about) – works for my NEED. That works for me. And I’ll look for her next single on iTunes the next time I’m searching for exercise music.. She’ll likely get another $1.99 from me, regardless of whether she’s a brand that I would follow on her website, or on Twitter, or even attend a concert.
This is a lesson for any brand seeking to connect with the consumer.Consider the needs, behaviors, cultures, activities of the consumers in the marketplace who may potentially consume your product. How do they interact with the world and friends during their day? What are their needs? How might they be able to apply what you are offering into their everyday? We talked a little about this in our blog recently “Time to Clean Your (Brand) House”.
Think about it.
P.S. For those Lady Gaga fans (you know who you are…): Barbie Gaga.
We're going through an exercise to help position a new company that's entering a very crowded market. In order to most effectively define who and what this company is, we need to also define how it's different than others in its market, and why businesses would want to engage with them.
The process of developing a positioning statement is pretty straightforward - it's the actual activity itself that becomes the challenge. Many different ideas and "keywords" come to the brainstorming page, and a lot of passion sits behind each of those. The challenge is ensuring that the language used to define who and what a company or brand is adheres to 3 primary principles; that it is:
Ownable in its respective marketplace or industry
Meaningful to the core audience being provided for
One of the most fun exercise in the development of the positioning statement - and one that I find helps tremendously when "stuck", is to get everyone working on the obituary for that business or brand. Think ahead to the future and imagine the company is a person. Sadly, it just died (of natural causes, of course - the business was a thriving one!). Now. What would you like the obituary to say about the life and legacy of that company?
Once written, the initial positioning exercise and the struggles to identify which definitions would be most meaningful and durable are much easier to nail down. Test it yourself. What would your brand legacy be? Why wait until you "die" to act on the actions necessary to create that legacy?
I've been running through my personal list of 2010 resolutions and it occurred to me that each of them applied quite well to any wine business seeking improvements in their DTC initiatives. Thought I'd share a few quick thoughts on each...
Clean up your mess. How's that customer database looking these days? Probably ready for a little spring cleaning... oDepending on how and where your customer contact data is maintained, now’s the time to review and clean up duplicates, dead links, missing email addresses, old physical addresses. Whether it’s a manual clean up or working with a hygiene service, your data should be reviewed and cleaned on a quarterly basis.
Go on a diet.Has your proverbial waistband gotten too tight? Might be time to pare back on the overindulging. oTrying to do too much? Resolve to scale back. Consider your top 5 producing DTC sales and marketing initiatives. What makes them successful? ROI? Customer engagement? Deconstruct them to fully understand how and why they’re working for your brand, and then define ways to improve them even further. Now consider your bottom producing DTC sales and marketing initiatives. How much are they costing you – in both time and money? Have you exhausted attempts to revive them? What will you lose by giving up 1, 2, or all of them?
Take risks. You'll never know until you try... oTry one sales or marketing tactic that you’re not quite sure about and see what happens. Find something that you’ve not considered, attempted, or incorporated into your marketing mix in the past. Make sure it's relevant to your target customer, of course. Not sure how to get started with it? Just do it. Jump in and see what happens. Don’t be financially foolish, of course, but you may be surprised at what you learn.
Mix it up. Life is about balance. Everything in moderation... oDon’t think 2010 is exclusively about going social. Or about video. Or about email. You can’t neglect a balanced and integrated marketing mix. Consider your customer and the ways which they can - or want to - interact with your brand. Are you available through the channels they’re frequenting? Is your brand visible or active in the vehicles they’re using?How well are your marketing and communications aligned through each vehicle?
Be true to yourself."Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive more youer than you." Dr. Seuss oDefine your "one thing". What is it that you’d like your customers to know about your brand? Your winemaking style? The family heritage behind your winery? Your sustainable farming practices? Think about that one thing and how well you may be communicating it through all the vehicles discussed above. If your customers aren’t “getting it" after visiting your tasting room, shopping your website, attending an event, watching your latest winery video, etc., review your marketing & communications for opportunities to communicate and identify or distinguish yourself better.