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Setting the bar as a trusted brand

By Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, CRO, EVRYTHNG

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is a tough one. Highly competitive, crowded, and frequently driven by price. Now producers are being put under even greater pressure, as consumers increasingly only want to buy from brands that they feel align with their own values.

With people becoming more aware of what they are putting into their bodies the focus on health issues is intensifying, coupled with sustainability and inclusivity being taken more seriously (particularly by millennials and Gen Z). This means that brands that want to retain, or even gain, a share of the market need to be seen visibly contributing to these causes.

Consumers are increasingly holding brands to account, wanting more information than can be delivered on a label or billboard. Businesses must now be able to show that their products have been sourced, produced, even transported, in a safe and sustainable way – along every step of the supply chain.

These demands for data are too important to ignore, with 99% of consumers saying that transparency is important in fresh food products, and 75% of consumers stating they would switch to brands offering more complete information[1].

With the addition of regulators requiring enhanced transparency and accuracy around Environmental Social and Governance (ESG), it’s more important than ever that companies seek to establish a reputation of trust.

True transparency

It’s no longer enough to simply state that a product is Fairtrade/organic/non-GMO. Consumers want to see the proof of this. They want evidence that a brand is treating its workers fairly and behaving in an ethical and safe manner – and this expectation extends across the entire supply chain. As younger generations gain more buying power this demand for rich information will increase, and brands need to adapt to this market now.

So far, gaining this full visibility across the whole supply chain has been difficult, with data being disparate and inconsistent across suppliers. However, with the ability to mass serialise products, digitally print unique identities onto goods on a mass scale is becoming more affordable. Coupled with the computing power and cloud capacity to share, process and store these massive amounts of data from each product, true end to end visibility is within reach.

This stands to revolutionise the CPG industry – enabling consumers and businesses to access all the information around a product’s life cycle by simply scanning a code – delivering true end to end visibility for the first time. It also provides businesses with both the challenge and opportunity of finally being able to meet customer expectations of transparency. Consumers will expect it, and it will be up to businesses to ensure they deliver it – or risk losing market share to those that do. Done successfully, this provides a chance to build trust, even generate loyalty, across a customer base that can be engaged with both pre and post purchase on an ongoing basis.

Maximising engagement to build trust

Up until now opportunities to directly engage with consumers across the CPG market have been limited due to the lack of product registrations in this arena. Product digital identity stands to change all that, as consumers are able to scan a code pre-purchase – giving a line of communication to potential purchasers, and further opportunities to engage post purchase – all with the aim of encouraging repeat or further purchases from the same brand.

Of course, this all depends on the consumer liking what they see when they access that information. As the market matures there is no doubt that there will be an increasing expectation of richer data and superior levels of transparency and authenticity.

Changing the game on product recalls

The benefits of this new technology go beyond meeting consumer demands for information on how a product is produced. It will also make a significant difference to the tricky area of product recalls.

No matter how focused a company is on safety, recalls are commonplace. How this is managed can have a significant impact on a brand’s reputation and the trust its customers place in it. In the CPG arena recalls are frequently done via in-store posters, social media, and email. There is very little opportunity for direct-to-consumer engagement, purely because the nature of the market means that product registration is rare (for example, a consumer would not register a bottle of shampoo, or a tin of beans).

As well as enabling companies to maximise both pre and post purchase engagement, it will also provide a direct channel to issue safety alerts should the need arise. Managing crisis points in this way will go even further in protecting, if not building, that all important consumer trust.

Plan now for the consumer of the future

There is no doubt in my mind that product digital identities are the future. In addition to meeting the ever-growing demands for data from the consumer, it also plays into the ESG movement by providing information on product life cycle, highlighting opportunities to enhance sustainability.

Businesses must start to plan now for the consumer of the future and consider how they will meet customer expectations but also maximise the potential opportunities and establish themselves as a trusted brand. This means:

  • Starting to gather information across the entire product and consumer journey
  • Unifying data from supplier, internal, and consumer facing applications around a unique and cloud enabled product identity
  • Enabling each point of contact with the product to read and write contextually relevant data
  • Let customers know. Highlighting the fact that they are fully transparent, and that consumers can easily access the product life cycle and a full suite of information about its origins
  • The industry as a whole must work together to fully embed this new technology so that everyone can benefit.

It is essential that businesses start taking these steps sooner rather than later and use the plentiful opportunities that end to end visibility and product digital identities offer in order to build a reputation as a trusted brand – ensuring that they are the ones that consumers are switching to, not from.

[1] Response Media Survey & Food Marketing Institute

Life after the pandemic: Navigating the next chapter in marketing

By Esther Flammer –Head of Wrike Marketing at Citrix

There’s no doubt that the last 18 months have proved challenging for marketers. The pandemic created an unforgiving landscape, as shrinking budgets were met with growing expectations. Industry-wide cut-backs resulted in dramatic decreases in spending and marketing leaders and teams around the world were under pressure to do more with less while searching out new and innovative channels in an increasingly saturated digital market.

As we continue to navigate the evolving landscape, we’re starting to see the return of some normality. However, for marketers, not everything is set to return to the way it was pre-pandemic. Fundamental shifts in both consumer behaviour and employee working habits mean that the industry will never be the same.

In order to navigate this new landscape and come out on top, CMOs and their marketing teams will need to adapt and innovate in order to become more strategic drivers of business and revenue.

Prioritising digital

For consumers, the pandemic is set to have a lasting impact on the way that they interact with brands and access services. Whether it’s shopping, entertainment or even just communicating with colleagues, family and friends, many aspects of our daily lives took a digital format even more so over the last year and a half. Whilst initially thought of as a temporary way to limit the spread of the virus and keep the most vulnerable safe, this new online environment has had some unexpected benefits – especially in terms of convenience – and the likelihood is that it is here to stay.

In fact, according to McKinsey, consumers are continuing to shift towards digital and reduced-contact ways of accessing products and services, with 84% of marketers believing that their customers are placing more value on digital experiences than before the pandemic. Whether it’s developing a meaningful brand image, or executing specific campaigns to attract and retain customers, marketing teams need to take this shift in consumer preferences into account.

In this new digital world, marketers need to focus on delivering personalised offers and messages that truly speak to their audiences. In order to know if these messages are landing, they need to be able to measure which marketing channels deliver the best content to the right audiences at the right time. Teams are under more pressure to ensure projects are a success and deliver noticeable return on investment (ROI). Therefore, having an effective multichannel marketing tech stack – to centralise and maximize all of your data and manage complex customer journeys across multiple platforms – will be key. A good system is essential to track all of your leads’ interactions and engagement. It can also help you make better decisions and take action on your leads’ unique paths.

Managing hybrid

It’s not only customers that are increasingly preferring online methods of buying. The pandemic also saw a drastic shift in terms of how employees expect to operate moving forward. Although remote working isn’t a new concept – especially in the marketing industry – since the outbreak of the pandemic, work has infiltrated the home at a never-before-seen scale. Many individuals have embraced the flexibility that comes with this and want it to stay in place permanently. In an effort to attract and retain the industry’s talent, marketing leaders are having to adjust their working practices. In fact, recent research discovered that 82% of marketing organisations have new policies in place around remote work following the pandemic.

When we transitioned to remote work, organizations made sure we did not lose something that we all took for granted in an office environment – the benefit of face-to-face communication. When shifting to a more flexible, long-term model, marketing departments need to ensure that they do not lose something that we might take for granted – visibility. Relying on chat platforms and video conferencing tools to collaborate could make it more challenging to keep track of projects happening on other platforms.

One way of creating visibility in a hybrid environment is through the use of collaboration software. These technologies make it possible for information sharing and greater transparency across marketing teams. Tasks are easily accessible to everyone, meaning fewer mistakes, greater consistency and a shared knowledge of what others are working on. This not only helps encourage a certain level of transparency and accountability within teams, it also promotes a culture of open communication.

Through increasing visibility, you can ensure that each individual is aware of exactly how they are contributing to a project and their role as part of the wider team. If a certain element of a campaign is delayed or not where it should be it quickly becomes apparent, and can easily be picked up on before it has a knock-on effect. This helps marketing teams keep things on track and swiftly spot mistakes, leading to an overall increase in productivity and results.

The role of the marketing team has never been more important. In today’s uncertain climate, innovation  is essential and implementing the right tactics at the right time could be the difference between an entire business surviving or collapsing. By focusing on digitally-driven multi-channel strategies and leveraging technologies that can facilitate communication and collaboration amongst employees, regardless of their location, marketing leaders can set themselves up for future success, regardless of what comes next.

OPINION: Don’t rip up the UK’s data privacy rules

A major announcement earlier this month of a consultation on overhauling current data legislation made by the former Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden, has been questioned by a leading expert in data privacy regulation. Privacy expert Nigel Jones (pictured), Co-Founder of the Privacy Compliance Hub and ex-head of legal for Google in EMEA, urges against ripping up the UK’s privacy rules…

The stated aim of the consultation is to drive greater innovation and growth in the UK’s data sector and better protect the public from major data threats.   However, there are a number of issues with the announcement. While I broadly welcome some aspects of the consultation, there is actually little by way of explanation in the announcement as to why the UK’s current data rules and regulations are insufficient to enable all these things to be addressed without the planned reforms.

The stated aims of the proposed reforms – to boost international trade; reduce burdens on business; deliver better public services; drive economic growth; boost innovation including reducing barriers to responsible innovation; protect the public; and strengthen public trust in use of data are ones that most organisations – as well as the general public – would agree with.

However, my view is that there is little, if anything, in the current legal framework that is stopping the UK from executing the aims of this consultation now, and there is insufficient detail in last week’s announcement to explain why such a consultation is necessary. Changes to the current agreement may threaten the very important adequacy decision that the UK has with the EU.

The announcement last week contains many references to science, healthcare and research and how the use of data in these areas needs to be simplified.  It is unclear what the Government feels is wrong with the current rules as they apply to science, healthcare and research.  It refers to advances made by Moorfield’s Eye Hospital and University College London in identifying eye disease by making use of AI, but those advances were successfully made under the current data framework using the power of Google Deepmind.  What exactly do they think is wrong with the status quo?”

The announcement also claims that there are plans to impose tougher penalties and fines for nuisance calls and text messages. My view is that there is nothing in the announcement that explains why this is necessary as current penalties are already very stringent.  Under the UK GDPR, the current maximum fine is already up to £17.5 million or 4% of worldwide turnover – that this is sufficient deterrent.

The announcement refers to disproportionate burdens for compliance on many organisations. While it is logical for the announcement to claim that a hairdresser shouldn’t have the same data protection processes as a multimillion pound tech firm, this ignores the fact that the current regime doesn’t require a hairdresser to have the same processes as Facebook. Also, how many hairdressers do we hear complaining about the burdens that the current UK data framework places on their business?

The consultation states that a shakeup of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is proposed, to include an independent board and chief executive.

The tenure of Elizabeth Denham, the current Information Commissioner, comes to an end this year.  She has come in for criticism during her time in charge from those that feel that, as a heavily funded regulator, the ICO should be able to achieve much more, especially in the area of enforcement.  Perhaps the government feels that by taking power away from the Commissioner and putting it in the hands of an independent board which it can appoint, it will be able to ‘take back control’ of data regulation.

However, I’m very much in favour of the statement in last week’s press release that the government plans to “replace box ticking with common sense.”

We couldn’t agree more. Data protection has never been about box ticking and it never should be. It is about creating a culture of continuous compliance and we take great heart from the government’s apparent enthusiasm for what it calls ‘Privacy Management Programmes’.  All companies that process data should build a culture using such a Privacy Management Programme which makes all its staff understand privacy, care about it and do their bit to use data wisely and securely.”

I also agree with the aim outlined in the plan to mitigate the risk of bias in algorithmic systems. This is a hugely important objective but it will be interesting to see how the government proposes to improve the current framework which exists under the UK GDPR.

It is intriguing that the government feels that the UK’s current data legislation is in some way holding the country back in areas such as international trade, public services, innovation, research, healthcare and hairdressing.  While of course any improvements in these areas are to be welcomed, we should bear in mind that the current rules are based upon a framework that has been in place for a very long time and that those rules already allow for much flexibility.

The government should make changes at its peril, and be careful to make sure that any planned amendments don’t threaten the very important adequacy decision that we have in place with the EU, our largest trading partner.  In our view, it would be better to make use of the existing flexibility we have than to suggest ripping up existing rules and starting again.

What modern marketing can learn from the entertainment industry

By Glenn Gillis, CEO of Sea Monster

People don’t go to the cinema for the previews, and they don’t watch their favorite show just for the ads. Why then, do marketers expect them to watch an ad before watching their favorite Youtuber or engage with a shampoo brand in the middle of their Instagram feed of selfies and vacation pictures? Why should they be forced to sit through advertising just so they can continue playing their mobile game for free?

Traditional advertising forces a message on the individual by interrupting the thing that they actually came there for. Marketers would simply buy media space, smack in the middle of people’s favourite TV show, magazine, newspaper, or news and shout their sales pitch to passive consumers who had no choice but to wait until it’s over.

But thanks to digitalisation, consumers no longer have to watch, listen or read an ad, and they’re not. They’re tuning out and skipping past. To combat this, marketers need to start considering the kinds of experiences people are trying to skip past the ads, to get to.

Be it videos, magazines, or games, marketers need to look at what people are engaging with and determine how to give it to them, harnessing the power of voluntary engagement. A good starting point is moving beyond the mindset of ‘what’s in it for us? What actionable item are we trying to achieve?’, and think more about ‘what’s in it for them? What does the customer need in order to have their attention captured?’

The entertainment industry understands this idea of capturing and holding your attention- it’s the ability to hit “next episode” on Netflix to keep watching a series marathon. It’s also the reason why the Superbowl half-time show is a multi-million dollar production. An engaged audience is the best audience for entertainers and marketers alike.

Marketing content should be relevant and applicable to what the consumer is interested in. Take sponsored Youtube content for example. In a video on DIY interior design, a sponsored message for a relevant product integrated into the video itself adds value to the viewer’s experience, as it’s directly related to what they came here to see. This is far more valuable to the viewer, and is more engaging than the same product being tacked on as an ad at the beginning of the video.

Getting even more creative, brands should experiment with developing games that deliver marketing messages. For the production and placement cost of one 30-second ad, brands can deliver hours of engaging, educational content that drives brand value. And critically this engagement is voluntary, creating a much higher value relationship.

As marketing messages compete in increasingly congested and expensive channels, what we know is that voluntary engagement is key– whether it’s the choice of what show to watch on which streaming platform, or people opting out of certain digital content because of the barrage of ads and other interruptions. People are no longer captive to marketing content, their time and attention matters to them, and brands should use that time wisely.

Glenn Gillis is the co-founder and CEO of Sea Monster, a leading animation, gaming and augmented-reality company. Sea Monster utilises games to increase engagement, improve learning, and strengthen the impact of learning outcomes for corporations across Europe and Africa. 

Email Marketing

5 insights into email marketing from 2020

By Michael Trapani, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Acoustic

Benchmarking an unexpected year, like 2020, can be a significant challenge. With so many factors affecting your company’s performance, how do you go about it? Comparing your performance in 2020 to 2019 (or any other year) will hardly account for the outsized influence a global pandemic had on your business, and the market as a whole.

Our newly released email marketing benchmark report, though, showcases the influence that the pandemic has had on email marketing based on data from thousands of marketing teams.

This benchmark is an indicator for your performance through an unprecedented year and a source of insight into consumers’ responses to the pandemic, current events, and how email marketing prevailed. These metrics uncover five primary insights:

  1. Pandemic lockdowns drove a huge increase in email engagement by consumers.
  2. It wasn’t just the pandemic — other global events impacted performance of email engagement.
  3. Email has further established itself as consumers’ preferred channel of engagement.
  4. COVID-19 messaging grew tiring and drove unsubscribes.
  5. Key industries were affected in different ways as a result of the pandemic and current events.

Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Pandemic Lockdowns Caused a Spike in Engagement

In March and April of 2020, the world entered the first wave of pandemic lockdowns and most of the in-person economy paused. However, while in-person shopping came to a halt, digital soared, leading to a surge in engagement with email marketing. Email marketing open rates increased 31% from January 2020 to April 2020.

While consumers sat at home, they opened more brand emails. Constantly online, the spring of 2020 was the perfect environment for email engagement. With higher open rates, click rates rose too: from January to April 2020, click rates increased 28.6%.  

2. Email Open Rates Coincided with Current Events

The pandemic wasn’t the only event that impacted email marketing performance. Natural disasters coincided with increased email engagement in the energy and environment industry. Unfortunately, the second half of 2020 saw a historic number of hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts. The industry was a clear outlier in the second half of the year, with multiple months exceeding a 40% open rate as a result — well above other industries measured.

The political arena of 2020 also had an impact on email marketing performance. Government-related emails saw a large uptick in November, coinciding with the U.S. presidential election. Open rates continued its upward trajectory for the industry through December, too, after the election was called.

3. In the “New Normal,” Email is Preferred

Email has always been a popular channel, but in the “new normal,” consumers are favoring this channel more than prior to the pandemic. Across the board, open rates increased since the pandemic’s start. While engagement peaked while we were in lockdown in the spring of 2020, engagement rates, overall, increased during the “new normal.”

In fact, every region measured had a higher click-to-open rate in the second half of the year. Europe saw the highest click-to-open rate in H2 of 2020, with an average of 14.8%.

Globally, consumers are more likely to engage with emails. This signifies a growing affinity for email communications as well as brands getting better at targeting the right consumers with each email.

4. COVID-Messaging Grew Tiresome Quickly, Driving Unsubscribes

While engagement was up, so was the unsubscribe rate. Other than India and Asia Pacific, every region had a higher unsubscribe rate in the second half of the year compared to the first. Overall, unsubscribe rates were 34.4% higher by year’s end, globally.

This could be a result of the COVID-19 messaging sent en masse to “unclean” lists. It was common practice for CEOs and brands to send pandemic-related updates to their entire list about the state of their business, like processes installed that kept employees and customers safe. This likely alerted many customers that brands they no longer shop with nor have affinity toward had their contact information, prompting them to unsubscribe.

5. Industry Highs and Lows Throughout 2020

Not all industries were equally prepared for the rapid digital transformation that took place: some industries thrived in a lockdown environment while others suffered. Unsurprisingly, hospitals and healthcare enjoyed high engagement throughout the entirety of H2, ranging between about 30 to 35% open rates. Because consumers were anxious for COVID-19 updates, they were more likely to interact with related content.

Two industries hit especially hard by the pandemic were travel and retail. Travel, for the most part, came to a halt for much of the year and the pandemic’s impact on the retail industry has been well-documented as dozens of retail hallmarks went out of business. This performance is reflected in their email marketing, as well. Travel and retail were two industries with consistently low open rates and low CTORs compared to other industries, rarely eclipsing 15% for open rates and hovering around 10% for CTOR.  

Getting Back to Basics with Email

While 2020 saw unexpected global changes, the “new normal” demonstrates that email marketing is a reliable tool with staying power. Comparing your performance from before and after the pandemic can signify how your brand is performing in the “new normal” as well as how you stack up in your market. Overall, global open rates increased in the latter half of the year by 6.5%. If you trend under the industry average, you can implement strategies to improve your email engagement, such as more advanced targeting to understand what content your audiences interact with more.

Despite many new marketing technologies and opportunities seeming to emerge daily, email is still growing. Make sure your email marketing strategies can keep pace. 

If you’d like to review the results of the full Acoustic report, download it here.

Three Psychological Pitfalls Marketers Should Avoid In 2021

By Norman Guadagno, CMO, Acoustic

A year in quarantine has changed consumer psychology and the rules of engagement for marketers. From dealing with isolation to significant economic uncertainty,  it is no surprise that depression has doubled for UK adults throughout the last twelve months. 

As the UK lockdown starts to ease, people are grappling with the conflicting emotions of desiring connection with each other on the one hand, yet remaining wary of too much close contact, too soon. 

For marketers, this means both adapting their 2021 plans to today’s “new normal,” contactless world, while ensuring that empathy and connection remain at the core of every communication. To accomplish this, we must all avoid the following pitfalls. 

Don’t mistake empathy for disingenuity 

We’ve all heard the same phrases a dizzying number of times by now: “These are unprecedented times,” “Stay at home, save lives,” and “We hope you’re doing well in these trying times.” For many brands, these empathetic phrases served as a pseudo-obligatory acknowledgement of current events before diving into sales-driven messaging. But for consumers, these messages quickly became white noise, a reason to ignore the communication altogether.

Data from Acoustic’s analysis of email marketing from January to May 2020 reinforces this. While open rates in the UK and Ireland increased by 19% in March versus January as consumers scoured for information on how to safely buy essential supplies and support their favourite businesses, click-through rates and click-to-open rates, on the other hand, remained relatively flat. This signals that emails with “An important message from our CEO” piqued curiosity but did not incite action or engagement. 

For marketers, the takeaway is clear: Show, don’t tell. Find creative ways to make it clear you genuinely care about your customers, without falling back on the same tired phrases. As marketers, we should emulate rigour. Our messaging should be clear, transparent, and to-the-point. The rest is just white noise. 

Stay connected with your audience 

Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand, it’s important to remember marketing should not be a one-way street. The best marketers foster community and connection, which are vitally important in today’s context. For many consumers who are working from home, the marketing communications they receive may be some of the only forms of communication they have with the outside world in a given day, besides work and the news of the day. This gives marketers a golden opportunity to search for ways to spark conversations with and amongst their target audiences. 

After all, the pandemic has all but eliminated the small talk and water-cooler conversations that play a key role in keeping us happy and productive at work. In today’s stay-at-home world, many of us have replaced these innocuous conversations with scrolling through social media or “forced fun” like workplace happy hours on Zoom. We have less opportunity to opt-in to small talk, but brands can change that. Marketers should embrace new ways they can foster conversation and community through social media, message boards, or other means to create a sense of normality for their consumers. 

Don’t get too close 

It’s one thing to leverage consumer sentiment and personal data to make your communication more personal and relevant. It’s another thing altogether to get too granular that you prompt concern about misuse of that data and abuse an individual’s sense of trust. 

It’s a bit like dating in today’s online world, where finding out about someone is seemingly so easy. It’s almost second nature to Google your date or look them up on Facebook or Instagram to find out more about them beforehand. But would you ask them about their holiday to Croatia the year before last that you found out about? Of course not. At least, I hope not….

Marketers face a similar conundrum. We may have psychographic data about our consumers, but should we use it? And if so, how? Marketers should devise new approaches that allow consumers to be more involved in granting permission to use their data on their terms. Allowing them to actively curate information about their likes and dislikes, in exchange for a better value proposition — a better brand experience — a “give to get.” In this scenario, an informed consumer is acknowledging that a brand may want to learn more about them — and then taking things a step further by cultivating information about themselves that is relevant for brand marketers to know. In the coming months, marketers should think about how to tailor this approach to psychographic profiling to keep their communications empathetic and connected to a consumer’s personal identity. 

Ultimately, marketing and dating can be surprisingly similar. Marketers always want to keep consumers engaged and keep them coming back for more, which requires a delicate balance of reaching out to the target audience without overreaching. As marketers plan upcoming campaigns, we must avoid the artificial genuineness, one-way communication, and overt psychographic profiling that can be so off-putting to consumers. If not, those consumers just might say, “This date is over,” stand up, and leave. 

Norman Guadagno is CMO at Acoustic, an open, independent marketing cloud.

Synergy between CTV and digital devices drives ad effectiveness, according to VDX.tv study

By VDX.tv

Your smartphone is a computer. And your TV, too. Nowadays consumers expect that their computers work together and provide a seamless experience, with cohesive and consistent messaging across screens. Marketers need to understand this synergy across screens and start to embrace the opportunity it provides.   

Streaming is an ideal way for advertisers to begin a lasting brand relationship. The big screen offers an immersive experience that helps create brand awareness and association. On the web, consumers lean forward. They’re curious, open-minded, and motivated. Streaming ads prompt inspiration, but they need to be followed by interactive, browser-based ads that facilitate exploration. 

VDX.tv’s research, “The Bigger Picture: Why Effective Video Advertising Requires a Synergy Across CTV, Desktop & Mobile Devices”, found that consumers are 2.5 times more likely to remember a brand advertised on the big screen than any other medium. The research also found that following a CTV impression with a desktop ad caused brand opinion to jump by a third, on average. For carefully considered purchases such as travel, auto, and even mattresses, purchase intent can more than double when CTV impressions are followed by interactive web impressions. A majority of respondents in the study rated these holistic, cross-screen campaigns as being more relevant, informative, and engaging than single-channel efforts.

Overall, the research noted that on average, the addition of CTV to desktop and mobile drove a 149.6% lift in brand awareness versus desktop and mobile alone. Likewise adding CTV to desktop and mobile resulted in a 36.9% lift in brand opinion and a 24.8% lift in purchase intent. 

Altogether, we call this the “Halo Effect”. 

A brand halo is earned by a marketing strategy that includes every screen in the house. A halo forms when computers are used to their full potential and in synchronicity with each other. Having your campaign meet each moment in a consumer journey means planning for consistent, responsive messaging across experiences that are adapted for each screen.

Where is your halo? Closer than you think.

You can download the study here.

The evolution of data reporting

By Graham Spicer (pictured), Sales Director, UK & EMEA, of SplashBI

Organisations are drowning in data. The sheer volume of data about employees, customers, suppliers, products, and results has never been so extensive and yet so crucially important. Without a thorough understanding of what data business’ collect, analyse and interpret – there could be a missed golden opportunity if a data reporting platform isn’t included in the mix.

To comprehend this, Graham Spicer, Sales Director, UK & EMEAof SplashBI explores the powers of visual reporting and how organisations can uncover data-driven insights through the evolution of data reporting via a number of different means.

Why is reporting necessary?

Without a doubt, reports are the backbone of any organisation and an integral part of business strategy. A successful data reporting platform allows you to look for opportunities and trends – a true survival kit especially in the aftermath of Covid-19. 

The aim of a business report is to provide a detailed and critical analysis of how the business is tracking in all areas of the organisation – from HR to sales, or to operational departments. Over time, reports have been progressively recognised as an important tool to guide decision-making and data-driven results for senior managers and leadership departments. Using a myriad of ad-hoc reporting and self-service reporting helps businesses to measure performance over set durations of time to analyse what worked well and what could be improved upon. 

Previously, copious amounts of paper with tables and charts used to symbolise traditional data reporting methods. With automation and visual representation of data at our fingertips and the chance to add filters and time frames, the world of reporting has been revolutionised. With the power of technology to help collate, compile and analyse data of all shapes and sizes, strategic business decisions can now be made by senior decision-makers straightway – removing the month end headache. 

The power of reporting

In recent years, the world of Business Intelligence (BI) has been turned upside down. Data became big(ger), meaning that organisations need to incorporate the advances of technology with established IT infrastructures so that they can transition to adopt cloud-based computing. This has resulted in spreadsheets taking a backseat to actionable data visualisations and interactive dashboards. Self-service reporting such as people analytics grabbed the reins and opened the opportunities for a selection of data reporting suites available to remove mundane work. Suddenly, advanced analytics wasn’t just for the analysts.

Understanding complex data analysis has now become a breeze with the introduction of self-service reporting platforms. Advances in technology alleviate the stress and labour hours of gathering, sorting, and using data to make informed business data-driven decisions. Using self-service reporting or even ad-hoc reporting has highlighted the positive impact of putting data back in the hands of individual teams, departments and management. Straightaway, this switch allows individuals to spend time exploring the meaning of the data – rather than inputting data which could lead to the possibilities of errors. In return, the rise of self-service reporting has also brought more attention to the growing necessity for modern businesses to adopt a data-driven culture. This means that decisions are made on facts and observations – and not haste or gut.

The future is bright 

As businesses ride the wave of the effects last year, senior leaderships have quickly understood the importance of viewing data in real-time. Quickly and efficiently, senior leadership teams need data that can be understood and actioned. Viewing data in a visual format across a number of dashboards helps businesses to reach targets and goals – rather than having to unpick the data at hand in spreadsheet form.

Previously, reporting requirements started off as a tool for pinpointing patterns in business’ data, but as time has progressed, requirements and urgency have grown exponentially. As time moves on, this has evolved into a robust, streamlined solution, bringing data reporting platforms alive in real-time. As technology is constantly evolving, the process of implementing any self-service reporting has become much less of a daunting task. Employees want to be able to spend time storytelling the high (and lows) of the data in front of them to senior management – rather than tracing through report after report. 

Having the implementation and adoption time almost cut in half allows employees to be more effective in the role. Now, month-end reporting is such a breeze!

Understanding D2C: What’s fuelling the move?

By Elliott Jacobs, EMEA Commerce Consulting Director at LiveArea

The direct-to-consumer (D2C) market has skyrocketed, experiencing double-digit growth to the point where it is projected to grow 19.2% this year. While D2C will have been on brands’ radars for some time, the majority have lacked the systems and processes needed to support such a move. The closure of physical retail, however, has proved a catalyst for many to make the move as they aim to reinvent themselves for the new landscape.

While the April 12th roadmap puts a return to the high street back on the horizon, we’re unlikely to ever return to pre-pandemic footfall. Together, shrinking margins, the emergence of digital disruptors and the unstoppable rise of eCommerce mean D2C is no longer a nice-to-have for many brands, but a means of competitive differentiation in the age of at-home retail.

Changing behaviours under Covid

When we think of ‘D2C,’ it’s usually the likes of Dollar Shave Club, Brewdog and Bloom & Wild that come to mind, and two key similarities run through them all. Firstly, they tend to be niche and offer a fine-tuned proposition concentrating on one category – think subscription razors, craft beers or letterbox flowers. Secondly, they are obsessively focussed on digital, whether it’s through social media engagement and user-generated content or innovative eCommerce experiences, these brands lead the way in data-driven business decisions.

The most agile, efficient and resilient businesses over the past year have been the ones which place digital commerce, data and analytics at the heart of their operations. Businesses can no longer rely solely on bricks-and-mortar, with many household stalwarts reliant on physical real estate having shut their doors for good. Spurred on by lockdown restrictions and panic-buying, many consumers are now sold on the convenience of buying directly from brands – a trend which is unlikely to change even with the reopening of physical stores. 

These behavioural changes have sprung larger brands into action, who are now launching their own D2C operations to improve profitability and take over the relationship with customers. Here, Nike has reaped the rewards of an earlier decisionto pull back from Amazon and use its website and shopping apps to build close connections with customers no longer shopping in-store. Elsewhere, PepsiCo and Heinz launched D2C offerings catering to common lockdown purchases to address supermarket shortages as a result of the panic-buying seen in the early days of the pandemic.

Acting on data intelligence 

The reason behind many of these brands adopting D2C lies in the data. Typically, CPG brands reliant on supermarkets, marketplaces and retailers to sell their products are at the mercy of these partners in feeding back the data. Retailers who take a D2C approach, however, own the entire customer journey and are well-placed to develop a 360 understanding of their customers.

The wealth of data available is substantial, providing brands with valuable insights and one singular source of truth which cannot be underestimated. Brands can then go on to optimise products, processes and communications and increase relevance to consumers in a way that isn’t possible when selling via third parties. Not only this, but control of the data also facilitates new ways of exploiting it – whether it’s running more targeted marketing campaigns or identifying shifting consumer behaviour patterns. The lesson here is that data is the future, and retailers will want to own as much of it as they can.

The switch won’t happen overnight 

A D2C sales channel should factor in every stage of the customer journey and there are myriad factors to take into account. For a start, they should consider the most effective means of competing with marketplaces, retailers and other brands for web traffic, whether it’s through social, search or PPC. From there, engaging content, immersive experiences and a seamless user experience will help brands build genuine connections with consumers and retain their custom.

Beyond this, a well-oiled D2C operation requires significant upfront investments in real estate, technology and staff. For example, any business aiming to achieve scalable online sales needs a platform that provides all the modern tooling needed to run an online business. It’s through these tools that brands gain the information required to treat customers as individuals. From a fulfilment perspective, D2C brands are in the business of sending regular packages to consumers rather than shipping bulk containers, meaning considerable changes to operating models will be necessary.

PepsiCo, Heinz and Nike have all proven the value of D2C in times of hardship. If other brands are to embark on similarly successful projects, they will need to ensure data, technology and processes can integrate and inform one-another across the entire customer journey. Those which do it right will set themselves up with a new source of income on top of the traditional wholesale channels when they return. But a cookie-cutter approach is no longer enough, and CPG brands considering the leap will have to decide whether such a commitment is right for them.