Multi-Channel Marketing at eTail East

August 22, 2012 by John Swords

The TurnTo team recently took a trip to eTail East in Boston, MA where the hot topic was multi-channel marketing, or omni-channel marketing depending on who you asked.   From mobile to tablet (will talk more about these two later) to online, social, print and media, consumers have multiple ways to access your online store and experience your brand.   With this variety, businesses are wondering, What do I do for each channel?  Should I go social? and much more.

The CMO of Express, Lisa Gavales shared with the audience a 90 second video of their upcoming fall collection as delivered through multiple channels.  She prefaced it by saying it is boring.  Boring?  Yes, boring.  Why?  Because Express stays consistent with it’s messaging within every season, so when you take a 3 month season and condense it to 90 seconds it gets a bit repetitive with the same images and clothing being shown to you over and over again!  The point of this was clear though: stay consistent no matter what channel of marketing you are using.  A consumer should be able to access your site through their phone, tablet or computer and see basically the same thing.  A core principle of branding, but one that is easy to stray from.

With all the different types of devices currently on the market, how does one decide which to treat the same and which to put in their own category?  For the most part, this is quite simple, but what about mobile phones and tablets?  Do you consider a tablet a mobile device? Or do you classify them each into a category of their own? The speakers at eTail East all had their own opinions, and there is no one approach that is correct.  However, they all could agree that it is important to keep in mind the differences between a mobile phone and tablet device.  For one, the screen size is different.  Secondly, the Internet connection used on the two is usually different, WiFi for tablets and 3G for phones (4G if you’re lucky).  These two factors combined affects how these devices are used.   For example, 74% of people use a smartphone to find local services compared to 55% on tablets1. This type of information could be valuable when deciding what marketing activities you are going to execute for these devices, as well as what approach you are going to take with your messaging.  Slight changes are obviously necessary between a phone and tablet, but again, brand consistency is key.

Latest infographics2 divulge that there are 845 million monthly active Facebook users and over 465 million Twitter accounts.   That’s 1.31 billion people that use Facebook and Twitter alone, not to mention other social sites.  So, should you go social? How do you measure social?  Some speakers at eTail use Facebook, others don’t.  Some use Twitter, some don’t.  So what’s the deal?  Use what works for you.  Test, test, test.  Start small, see what works, and go from there.  Remember though, that social is a 2-way thing… using it as a platform for dialogue with and between your customers can provide huge insights and help strengthen brand loyalty.

Kelly Cook, the SVP of Marketing at DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, engaged the audience by talking excitedly about “shoe love” and by giving away free shoes to the audience… much like they do through their enormous presence on both Twitter and Facebook. Whether it’s by commenting on their shopper’s photos or by giving away free shoes to celebrate a new store opening, they are active and engaging with their shoppers on a daily basis.   What benefits have they seen from their social presence?  At the very least, they see a very strong loyalty amongst their shoppers.  In fact, 90% of their sales come through their loyalty program.  And, their Facebook fans even went so far as to defend their page against unwanted hackers!  So, although it is extremely difficult to track the ROI on social media, it is much easier and according to some, just as valuable, to track the engagement level by clicks, comments, likes, etc. and see your fan-base grow.  I think it is safe to assume that the more active your social pages are, the more loyal your followers, and the more successful your social campaigns are.

All in all, the eTail East message I received was clear: stay consistent in your brand messaging, utilize the channels that work best for you (staying mindful of their differences) and take advantage of the fact that social media is a two-way street and cannot be measured strictly by ROI.



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