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Direct Response Marketing

Consumer Journey: Engagement — The Power of Attraction

1 Feb, 2017 By: Nicole Urso Reed Response

How social media and audience engagement plays a crucial role in today’s best performance-marketing campaigns.


A new year is not only a time for reflection, it’s a time for prediction — especially when it comes to marketing trends and the consumer behaviors driving them.

The year 2017 began with an eye toward evolving opportunities on the social front, particularly with live video, influencer marketing, and social media advertising.

“The biggest trend [in 2017] is that there’s never a dull moment in social,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson says in a recent episode of the company’s Behind the Numbers podcast.

“I’ve been covering this for a really long time, and every year there are huge changes that impact all aspects of digital marketing, and social is at the center of it,” she says. “When I look ahead it seems very clear to me that social media companies are playing a role, a key role, in nearly every major trend and thing that people are talking about in digital marketing.”

Looking back at 2016, she accurately forecasted the rapid rise of live streaming video and the “love affair with influencer marketing.”

One prediction that was completely off the mark in 2016? “We did predict that TV ad dollars would go more strongly and more noticeably toward social, and that didn’t happen. We do see more money going to social, but it’s really not at this point coming from TV,” she says.

Television remains the best way to reach the largest audience, but social and digital media are where opinions are formed and often where purchasing decisions are made. It’s no surprise that the most experienced and successful direct marketers look at the two holistically, driving awareness and then cultivating relationships and business through audience engagement.

In this round of our consumer journey series, marketers talk about that next step and how they bring together both sides of the marketing spectrum — art and science — to create the most effective offers and enjoyable customer experiences.

System Reboot

It’s a sentiment that has echoed in Response cover stories, over and over. The best campaigns are the ones where branding and performance marketing work as one.

Keira Krausz, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Nutrisystem Inc., the 2016 DRMA Marketer of the Year, believes that there are opportunities to engage with consumers and customers (different groups entirely) at every phase of their journey.

“Consumers are people who might be beginning to consider losing weight, or they know they want to lose weight but they don’t know what the method is going to be,” says Krausz. “For those consumers, TV remains a channel for us that has scale, but in the past couple of years we’ve also reached out via digital content and our retail business, which keep our brand top of mind. As someone’s walking through Walmart, they will see Nutrisystem, and we’ll introduce ourselves to them that way.”

Those are like the “Hi, nice to meet you channels,” she says. Once those people become customers, they’re further segmented into four pillars of engagement, which include social media, the NuMi app and the South Beach Diet app, content marketing through the Leaf blog and newsletters, and counselors for one-on-one support.

“We think about people at every point of their journey, so if they’re at the beginning of their weight loss, what kind of content or advice or support might they need? If they’ve lapsed, we still have a relationship with them through the NuMi app, and most of them are still signed up for e-newsletters, so we’re still corresponding with them, and they’re still usually on Facebook looking at content that we’re pushing out through there,” she says.

At every touchpoint, Krausz adds, it’s all about deepening the relationship to keep them going.

Setting Intentions

Effective TV advertising will reinforce a brand’s message and introduce the product or service to an entirely new set of eyes, but once marketers have consumers’ attention, they have to figure out how to hold it and where to drive their audience next.

“Since the overwhelming majority of consumers now watch TV with a second screen at hand, the primary purpose of a DRTV spot is to stoke interest and curiosity,” says Peter Koeppel, president at Dallas-based Koeppel Direct and member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board. “It is really the first step in what may be a two-step or multi-step process. Once a consumer has expressed interest, they will undoubtedly have questions and concerns such as: Does the product or service do what it claims it does? What kind of experience are other consumers having? What is the cost, guarantee, and return policy?”

After these questions are identified, marketers should make it easy for customers to quickly find the answers. Will they hunt for user reviews? Where will they find these user reviews? Marketers must think about and manage this entire “ecosystem” including, Koeppel cautions, fake reviews from competitors who are trying to siphon off leads and sell competing products.

“Similarly, in a telephony environment, operators have to be able to anticipate the most common questions and answer them with authority,” says Koeppel. “Remember, a good many consumers want to believe in a marketer’s promises, but they have boxes they need to check off and they are busy, so the marketer has to make that process be easy and concise.”

Creating an engagement strategy is unique for every brand, and this is where creativity comes into play. For Vistaprint, the e-commerce company that enables small businesses and individuals to print high-quality products including business cards and stationery, DRTV is the driving force that brings people into their virtual front door. TV “creates demand in all of our other channels” says Peter Tardif, director of North American channels and markets. Facebook plays an important role in their marketing decisions, too.

“Facebook is our main social platform for tracking engagement because it has our largest fan base and the business manager interface makes it easy to track and compare those metrics, amongst others, including audience growth and traffic to site,” says Tardif. “Instagram recently started including metrics within the app for business profiles, but they are limited at this time. Engagement on Facebook gives us insight into how relevant and helpful our content is for our target audience. It is one of our main indicators for what content is working and plays a big role in future content creation.”

The process of creating personalized goods requires excellent customer service as well as reminders to return and finish incomplete projects. Tardif says that Vistaprint’s customer focus is evident in all of its marketing channels, and the company is always looking for interesting ways to interact with its patrons.

“We just wrapped a 25-week tour of the United States in a 40-foot branded recreational vehicle,” says Tardif. “We visited 22 cities in 18 states to meet our customers and learn more about how they market their small business, and how we can help them. Additionally, in May, we partnered with ‘Good Morning America’ in honor of National Small Business Week to celebrate the many small businesses that make up the United States. We visited five cities in five days, surprising a different business owner in each city with $10,000 to reward them for what they do for their communities and truly make an impact on their small business.”

The interaction with customers ties back into Vistaprint’s DRTV marketing efforts to bring the process full circle.

“Our goal is to balance brand and DR in our DRTV advertising,” says Tardif. “By understanding our customers, we’re able to craft a more relevant message so we can continue moving our brand forward while also reaching DR performance metrics.”

Making It Count

The massive audiences across social platforms including Facebook, Facebook-owned Instagram, and now Snapchat make them impossible for brands and publishers to ignore. Though, striking the right balance between authenticity and product offers is not easy, which is why brands often turn to social influencers for an assist.

“Influencer marketing is a creative way to reach multiple micro-markets that you wouldn’t traditionally reach in online or TV advertising campaigns,” says Lindsey Carnett, CEO and president of Marketing Maven in Los Angeles. “Influencers in the beauty, health and fitness, and pet categories create their own authentic content demonstrating your product in front of their highly targeted and trusting followings they have built. Influencers can include promo codes for sales tracking and rev-share deals or act as a one-time fee to create content you can re-purpose and leverage.”

It’s all about finding the right audience and partnering with the right influencer to create quality content that resonates — and ultimately drives sales.

“Tying into influencer marketing, user-generated content works best for DR clients to provide potential customers an authentic testimonial and demonstration of the product,” says Carnett. “Video works extremely well too, not only for the benefits of the Facebook algorithm that prioritizes video content and auto-plays to grab a user’s attention, but also so the product can be seen in action. A user-generated video is basically gold, and if you have permission to repurpose the content as advertising, you’ll be seen as a more authentic brand and drive more sales.”

Content marketing and influencer marketing have been very effective for Nutrisystem, says Krausz. It has a blogger platform that’s been in place for the past five years where influencers will join the Nutrisystem program and post updates throughout their experience. There are about 100 bloggers per year.

Nutrisystem also has had success with social influencers and celebrities who share their stories through various social channels.

Welcome Back

Engagement marketing can be used at every stage of the consumer journey. Retargeting is key for capturing people who have expressed interest in a product, but aren’t quite ready to commit.

“The amount of investment in retargeting should be based on the recency and frequency ‘cliff’ that usually occurs after a user either has seen the ad so many times or after a certain amount of time has passed since they originally visited the site that they are no longer likely to be interested in the product,” says Koeppel. “The cliff can usually be easily identified based on the drop in response rates over time. Depending on the product, it does make sense to offer potential customers a discount, but exactly when the discount offer is presented is something that should be tested and refined. In addition, that discount offer should be extended in exchange for the user’s contact information, such as an email address, which would allow for future re-contact.”

Other ways to create a sense of urgency, says Koeppel, are rush shipping-and-handling, different offer configurations, and extended guarantees.

Customer service, especially with continuity products — including weight-loss programs — is also crucial, says Koeppel.

“People want support in a myriad of ways that can include managing how much product they are receiving, ensuring they are getting the kind of practical support they need to succeed — such as advice, recipes, workout instructions, and so forth — not to mention moral support,” he says. “Weight-loss is really more of a partnership than a simple transaction, but marketers that make the effort to nurture success will be rewarded with happy consumers and great word-of-mouth.”

It’s also a similar scenario at Vistaprint where customers may need extra support to create their customized goods.

“We recognize that some customers may encounter difficulties creating and designing their products or completing their purchases, so we have built a very talented customer care team that is available to assist customers at any point in the design or purchase process,” says Tardif. “They can recreate products for customers, change design templates, fix errors, apply promotional offers, among many other available services that are all in place to help customers ultimately complete their purchases.”

And that is where this series will pick up next: purchasing. Part three of the consumer journey will look at everything from the latest e-commerce technology to teleservices and fraud protection.

Stay tuned for more. ■


About the Author: Nicole Urso Reed

Nicole Urso Reed

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