A few years back at the Social Media Expo in London, one of the speakers referred to traditional marketing as if it was a bowling match. In the past, marketers need only to step up and bowl – hitting as many pins as possible with each pass in order to make the best impact. This was a one-sided affair. He then compared today’s marketing with social media more like pinball games. I disagree.
Wimbledon is getting ready to kick off and as we gear up in here in SW London, it brings back memories of watching the 2012 U.S. Open final match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. I watched until 3:00 AM GMT completely riveted. This was real tennis. And this is how today’s digital world is evolving.
Consumers are not sitting back and accepting our ads, our media, or our insights. They are rallying back, returning all our shots and expecting an exciting match. So why do so many business act like an automatic tennis ball machine? They serve, the consumer returns and the ball rolls away to collect in the corner. For most – the digital experience machine just keeps spitting out new fuzzy yellow balls without returning. As a whole, most businesses are tuned into analytics, ROI and performance, but very rarely does it lead to meaningful changes in how we market. Even fewer companies look beyond the initial impact to the entire integrated customer experience.
I see this every day with ratings & reviews. There are two types of companies out there using reviews on their website. These are the ball machines versus the tennis players. The ball machines have a widget – they show reviews, it helps improve conversion a bit on site, and all it ever does is show stars and bars on their website. There is no intelligence, no action, no ball return. Here you have highly engaged, highly informative marketing research groups that cost them virtually nothing, yet they continue to lob the same yellow ball and never return the shot. Reviews are there for the consumer.
But the other group – the real players – they are ready for the return. You study your reviewers – how old are they? are they men or women? how often do they shop? Then you respond. It can be as simple as acknowledging the reviewer and their opinion. Or, in some cases, it can change the way you do business. Reviews can highlight product issues that are often no more than on-page product descriptions but they can also highlight manufacturing problems that drive high levels of returns.
Market Research is an $18 billion per year industry – how much do you spend each year? Is it worth it? How much do you invest to change the way you do business? Are you a ball machine or a tennis player? The biggest change you can make today is to stop using ‘just a widget’ on your site and leverage the content you are already collecting.