Marketing Innovation: The Spark for a New Era of Engagement – Beth Comstock, GE

“Pay attention to what is emerging or you will be in an emergency.”

Beth Comstock, Vice Chair for GE, delivered the opening keynote for the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) conference, &THEN. Beth motivated that, at their core, marketers are behaviorists and are responsible for telling stories that resonate with consumers in a faster, more mobile, more connected, and more complex world. GE has branded itself as a “Digital Industrial” company as it seeks to take on these challenges to engage its customers and clients.

The insights we can gather from data is the new currency in the digital industry.

Beth suggested that marketers and companies have to be comfortable in flux as technology continually changes the way brands can engage customers. New technologies have one thing in common—their use, and production, of data. Beth offered a few examples of established companies and industries incorporating this new data into operations. Boston has started to use the traffic-mapping app Waze to find efficiencies to its traffic management system. Baidu, a Chinese search engine, tracked foot traffic at Apple Stores in China, and was able to more accurately guess the retailer’s China sales volume for Q2 than premier investment firms. Data is not in and of itself valuable, but the insights we can gather from data is the new currency in the digital industry.

Beth closed with some words of advice to marketers:

  • Be comfortable in the ‘in-between’ as technology will keep moving the target of effective customer interaction.
  • Start small, test an idea, and don’t worry if it’s perfect.
  • Feedback is critical. Seek it, give it, embrace it.
  • Think big, but observe small.

New Age of Video Storytelling: Engagement & Monetization – Barry Stamos, Videoo

The first breakout session of the day focused on the power and challenges of effective storytelling through video. Barry Stamos, CEO of Videoo, suggested that the future of video storytelling is “social video,” which allows individuals to contribute their own videos to a larger story. This is the idea behind the new video sharing applications like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook videos. Barry saw social video as the next step after the selfie, moving individuals from a “me” engagement with the world, to a “we” engagement, submitting their voice to a virtual story through video. Brands can proactively position their video marketing techniques by assuring that their video content tells a coherent story, not only advances an idea. Marketers should also encourage video submissions by their customers, as the video testimonial is expected to gain more influence. And finally, brands should be concerned with the sharing metrics of their video content above all other measurements.

Using Twitters Unique Data to Meet Cross-Device Challenges – Vernon Wharff, Twitter

As consumers use more connected devices throughout their day, direct response needs to be formatted for multiple device engagement. Twitter is addressing this by offering trackable sponsored messaging. Vernon Wharff, a data scientist with the platform, showed how Twitter could be used to track a potential shopper after they have abandoned a purchase online. In the example, a person tweets that they are in the market for new shoes, asking friends for recommendations. Twitter’s software observes the keywords in the tweet, and prepares a partner’s sponsored content to appear in the user’s Twitter feed. Should the consumer look at the item but not go through to purchase – perhaps thinking about completing this at a later time on a different device – Twitter will work with website partners to follow the consumer and remind them with ads for the purchase. The method essentially uses advanced cookie tracking on Twitter customers to reach them both within and outside the Twitter platform.

What we think

Day one reminded us that consumers occupy a faster, more complex, and more connected world. Consumers produce a wealth of data that challenges marketers to discern valuable insights, but also provides fertile opportunities for segmentation, testing and experimentation. Investing in insight providers, being hyper aware of trends, and testing new ideas is critical.

Claude Lawrence is a Senior Research Analyst with Comperemedia. His areas of focus include Credit Cards, Unsecured Lending and Banking.

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