Categories
Strategy

Are Multiple Brands Better Than One?

When companies undergo the process of transformation as they seek to differentiate themselves and solve for ever-evolving consumer pain points, it’s not uncommon for new ideas, product lines or service spinoffs to hatch. Unrealized possibilities tend to be unearthed and opportunities to break into new audience segments are revealed.

 

Many organizations soon encounter the challenge of fitting new brand offerings within the original parent brand. With each addition to the product or service line, do you create a different name, package, and marketing strategy? What is the best way to maximize the value of both the unique offering and the brand as a whole when you introduce something new?

There are several common approaches: masterbrand, endorsed, individual, and hybrid. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on your goals and the needs of your customer.

When to Link Brands Together

If your company makes multiple products or offers multiple services that play well together, you’ll most likely have success sub-branding them or creating a brand extension. This type of structure can include the following approaches:

 

  1. The endorsed brand in which each sub-brand may carry the same values, but will have its own distinct brand identity. An example would be Marriott with its JW Marriott, Residence Inn and Ritz Carlton sub-brands.
  2. The branded house or masterbrand in which the parent brand influences the identity of the sub-brand. An example here is Google with Chrome, Maps, Drive, etc.
  3. The hybrid, which is a blend of individual and masterbrand. Coca-Cola Company for example, has multiple individual product brands like Sprite, Dasani, Fanta, etc., but they also have their series of classic Coca-Cola products.

The so-called “halo effect” of sub-branding in the hybrid brand scenario can permeate into new audiences who may not be served directly by the parent brand’s core offering.

Let’s look at Uber Freight as an example.

 

Created by the parent company Uber, Uber Freight looks, feels and performs much the same as the app the company is best known for, but it serves a completely different, and very niche, audience. Based on the needs of this particular audience, the brand was able to take the “Uber experience” and tailor it to this untapped segment while maintaining its core brand principles. Uber didn’t stray from its core offering of better transportation, but the two brands have completely different strategies for attracting users and a different voice, tone and messaging.

 

Uber knew that when it came to truckers, they didn’t have the benefit of brand recognition – in fact, most truckers at that time had never even heard of the app. The company had to take a step back and really learn the market: The pain points, how to get truckers to adopt new technology, and how to communicate with them. The Uber Freight team hyper-focused on a specific region (in this case, Dallas), hired people who were experts in the industry and could speak the language, and began more of a direct outreach approach. A sub-brand with the same underlying purpose as the namesake brand, but a different approach and infrastructure for gaining users.

If your company offers multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences…

Then, in this case, the individual brand approach might be more fitting. Companies that offer multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences, so much so that a given customer likely wouldn’t even consider buying one product but would be very interested in another, could benefit from brand individuality.

 

This is not to be confused with brand extension, whereby a company will branch out into completely different product spaces altogether (like Guinness brewing beer and publishing a book of records). An individual brand is more like a sub-brand with a completely different look, feel and even price point. It’s where a parent brand will have a series of unrelated, independent brands under its umbrella. Think Unilever with Dove, Persil, Vaseline, Lipton, Korr, etc.

 

With the individual approach, each brand has vastly different personas they appeal to. Going the individual route is tricky for this precise reason, but the opportunity to increase personalization with each brand in order to reach disparate audiences can be enticing for organizations.

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter?

When To Build From Scratch

Finally, in some cases you’ll find two completely disparate brands that ultimately can be traced back to one company. This is often done if the two brands serve different audiences and have completely different visions and values. If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn’t share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn't share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

When this occurs, the originating entity often doesn’t publicize the fact that they are behind the two brands, and in many cases customers of either brand is none the wiser the other exists. This tends to be the least common of the three brand architectures, as most organizations have an underlying vision, purpose or stance that is echoed throughout each of their offerings.

 

Also read: What’s In Store? The Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World

How to Know Which Strategy Is Best For You

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers. Does your current customer base have a need that this particular product or service solves for? Does the new product fulfill upon your existing brand’s deeper purpose and vision, or does it have a completely different mission of its own? Answering these will help you determine which approach is the best option.

 

Keep in mind, if you commit to the individual branding approach, while it’s not completely necessary to make perfectly clear the brand connection, it is important to ensure you carry the same vision and values through each of your separate offerings.

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers.

Another advantage of individual vs. pure sub-branding is that one misstep with a individual brand won’t damage your overall organization as much as a sub-branded failure. Because most sub-brands are visually and tonally in line with each other, bad publicity or a colossal failure in even a smaller venture can have disastrous consequences. We’ve seen this play out with well known brands like Samsung with its Galaxy Note 7 and Apple – even the most diehard Apple fans will abandon the brand across the board if one product doesn’t meet their expectations.

 

Individual brands don’t carry quite the same risk, though the lack of obvious association can be a drawback if a smaller off-shoot brand performs particularly well. It’s also worth noting, when a company brand spins off too many offshoot product brands all geared towards a similar audience segment, it can cause a tremendous amount of confusion.

 

An example of this is Centrieva, an accreditation management software for higher education. They launched a series of new products, each with its own brand name and all for a tangential market, and consequently, their customers and prospects became increasingly confused about the offerings. The solution to this problem was to parse out Centrieva as the corporate brand (which would live in the background) and create Weave as the master brand with each product as a sub-brand of Weave. In applying “Weave” to each product name, we helped create brand association and recognition and showed how each product works together as one cohesive platform.

 

On the path to transformation, as you uncover the latent (or obvious) wants, needs and desires of your audience, it will become more clear which brand architecture is best suited for your organization. You may discover, like Uber did, that you are dealing with a completely different audience segment who doesn’t even know you currently exist. If you’re creating a product that addresses a subsequent pain point of your existing audience, your brand name will likely carry levity. And in that case, you could go the route of Virgin, applying your brand name to product descriptions or sub-brands.

 

Note: This article was originally published on October 11, 2017 and updated and republished on December 29, 2020.

Categories
Mindfulness

Why Tallwavers – Old & New – Say Tallwave Is a Great Place to Work

The very first sentence in our brand manifesto is “Experience is everything.” It’s on the front page of our website, written on slides throughout company decks, hashtagged in every social media post and repeated again (and again) during business calls.

 

At Tallwave, the experiences we create and deliver aren’t just for our clients and their customers – they’re for our employees (or our first customers), as well. You see, we believe it’s all interconnected: The culture we provide for our employees directly impacts the way they do their jobs, the dedication they give to their work and the overall fulfilment they feel in their lives. No matter the project, we always approach our work through a holistic lens that puts human needs first, and business needs second.

 

On LinkedIn: Tallwavers reveal what they were most proud of in 2020

We always approach our work through a holistic lens that puts human needs first, and business needs second.

To ensure we’re on the right track of living up to the title of Best Place to Work, we asked our employees to share why they take pride in being a Tallwaver.

 

Here’s what they said:

 

  • Jimmy Walker, Sales Executive:  “Tallwave is a purpose disguised as a company that’s built around intrinsic core values of integrity, belief, passion, authenticity, transparency, camaraderie, and trust… that has the most indelible group of people who always looks out for each other and share the same dedicated culture, value, ethics, mission and vision. There’s not a single element that can be matched and I’m just ecstatic to love what I do and who I’m surrounded by every single day. I’m living out my dream.”
  • Kristen Laird, Project Manager: “Tallwave’s culture is top-notch. Employees that work at Tallwave are not only insanely smart and talented, they’re also fun people to be around. Triple threat.”
  • Brendan McInerney, Former Paid Media Team Manager:  “When I first came to Tallwave, I was asked how I feel about ‘change’. Being a commonly asked question, I, of course, said I was open to it. But aside from the canned response, I was actually deeply motivated by it. And it did not take me long to realize that the underlying question was really, ‘How do you feel about being a driver of change and growing the organization?’ To me, Tallwave is a place where we are all empowered to come up with a goal/idea, and relentlessly pursue it.”

"Tallwave is a place where we are all empowered to come up with a goal/idea, and relentlessly pursue it."

  • Hillary Low, HR Manager:  “I can let my freak flag fly! I grew up with a background in (musical) theatre and in a fairly artistic family. Other companies seem to value you only as far as your work ethic, but Tallwave values the whole individual. I am free to be me and ‘me’ is appreciated.”
  • Martha Schulzinger, Senior Project Manager: “Tallwave embodies a growth mindset mentality. It is so awesome to work for a place where you are encouraged to try things, make mistakes, learn from them, and then share your learnings with your peers. I’m sure many of us have experienced working at organizations that claim they want employees to learn and grow, only to find out later that is not exactly true. Instead, you have to do things a certain way and it’s not made clear as to why. As a result of being a growth mindset company, I feel like I’m growing and learning leaps and bounds since I’ve started. It’s invigorating!”
  • Lauren Franklin, Paid Media Coordinator:  “I started working at Tallwave in the middle of the pandemic. I haven’t had a chance to work with anyone in person yet, but what I love about Tallwave is how much they care about their employees. It was a weird time to start a new job, but I haven’t felt disconnected from Tallwave, at all. Instead, I feel like I have been a part of the Tallwave team for a long time.”

If employee experience is not something you’re actively monitoring, you should take steps to do it today. There’s no time to wait.

  • Chelsey Gloetzner, Senior Product Designer: “Tallwave is a great place to work because there is a proactive culture of respect. Across the company, teammates are equally respected, appreciated, and valued, regardless of experience, role, or responsibility.”
  • Jessica Hickam, Senior Content Strategist: “Everyone on the team truly cares about both the work we do and the community we have built. I am grateful every day that I get to create with this innovative, dynamic, passionate group of people.”
  • Alexis Reed, Project Coordinator: “I’ve only been with Tallwave for a couple of months, but it’s already been a really great place to work! Being on-boarded remotely, during a pandemic, was challenging and isolating, but the whole team at Tallwave made me feel welcome and included. I received private messages welcoming me to the company and inciting great conversations. I always feel comfortable messaging someone to ask for help, even if I’ve never spoken to them. I have particularly enjoyed participating in company ‘events’ like the virtual Thanksgiving talent show and the virtual cooking class! I really appreciate the lengths Tallwave has gone to to keep everyone connected.”

Also read: Solving For the Lack of Diversity in CX

 

The people who make up Tallwave are just as great – actually, greater – than the company itself. They are the ones who breathe life into our company core values:

  • Maverick attitude: A maverick embraces an unconventional way of thinking and takes a few calculated risks to find the best outcome for each other and our clients.
  • Relentless pursuit: Tallwavers never stop being curious. It’s this curiosity that leads us to learn, grow, and persevere through even the toughest challenges.
  • Selfless teamwork: None of us are in this race alone. We know combining our efforts leads to better work. And in the end, we celebrate the efforts and contributions made by all.
  • Thoughtful rigor: We solve difficult problems with thoughtfulness by examining every angle. We believe details matter and take pride in our work.

If employee experience is not something you’re actively monitoring, you should take steps to do it today. There’s no time to wait.

But like anything else pertaining to personal or professional development, you can’t set and forget the employee experience (EX). What do our Leadership and People & Culture teams do to ensure we continually evolve? They send out anonymous surveys to create a space for real and honest feedback; invest time and money into offering self- and professional-development opportunities; emphasize the importance of exercising vulnerability and empathy in everything we do; regularly check in with employees directly to gauge first-hand just how happy and healthy they are; and encourage giving credit whenever credit is due (our #tallwaveSWAGGER basecamp channel is always full of shout outs). We love our team and what we’re continuing to build. Think you’d be a great fit?

 

Learn more about our culture and open positions here.

Categories
Strategy

How to Set Content & Design Teams Up For CX Success

Content is crucial to a brand’s success because it communicates what a brand is all about.


Design is equally as crucial to a brand’s success because it helps customers retain those very messages that took so much effort to thoughtfully craft.


The ways in which content and design teams collaborate can often vary from company to company; some organizations umbrella all content and design employees into one big creative team who collaborate on projects regularly, while other digital companies break them up and pair them together on a project-by-project basis.


When working in silos, both components individually contribute to the way consumers feel and think about a brand, but when performed synergistically, they deliver seamless experiences that support the same objectives, speak to the same audiences, and project consistent characteristics. The end result? Increased customer sentiment, satisfaction, and likeliness to return.


Whether you’re building a website from scratch, developing an omnichannel marketing strategy or executing a complete company rebrand, there are a couple things that must happen in order to set content and design teams up for collaborative success.

Start with research

When planning a strategy for a digital CX transformation, research is key. There are two areas of research that design and content teams should prioritize: their audiences and their competitors.

Audiences

Both teams need a common understanding of who their audiences or core customer groups are, but they can’t just know the who – when crafting CX, it’s crucial to understand the why. These are the basic demographic questions that brands typically answer to identify their “who”:


  • What does your target audience look like?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What is their annual income?
  • What is their relationship status?
  • What generation do they belong to?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What questions do they often ask themselves?

However, by answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups:


  • What deeper motivations or beliefs drive their decision-making?
  • What is causing them to seek out solutions now?
  • How do they assign value to the things they deem important?
  • Why do they value what they do?
  • What are their interests? (This is different than their hobbies) What are their opinions on ___________? (Fill in the blank as it pertains to your product or services)

By answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups.

Competitors

When looking at competitors, teams should choose 3-5 of their top competitors and take a deep dive into their CX strategy. How do they speak to their audience? What do they highlight as their defining features? Which social platforms are they utilizing? What types of content (video, infographics, blog post, etc.) do they have? What are their colors? What is the look and feel of their photography and design? What is the voice and tone?


The most important component of competitive research may be looking at competitors as a collective to discover opportunities to stand above the crowd. Gaps in the market allow brands to be unique and develop key differentiators and characteristics in design and content strategies.

Write the story

Every brand has a story, but it has to be written down and widely shared (and repeated) for cross-company alignment to manifest.


When developing a brand story, it’s important for companies to define their objectives: What should potential customers understand? What are the key takeaways? What are the shared values that drive them forward? Creating a shared understanding of the story lends way to crafting a mission statement and list of core beliefs that employees and customers can rally around.


On top of that, decisions must be made about the brand’s verbal personality and attitude – namely, voice and tone. Brand voice reflects how language is used to convey purpose and intention. It’s defined by a brand’s style of communication and can vary based on persona and values and can range from intellectual or authoritative to fun, witty or anything in between. Conversely, tone can change depending on what channel is being used or who is being addressed – however, a framework of how and when different tones are used should be established for consistency.


A brand story should be simple, clear, and straightforward, so much so that any stakeholder – internally or externally – could sum it up in one sentence. Of course, that’s not always easy. In fact, it often takes months of writing, rewriting, debating, discussing and exploring a variety of approaches and perspectives before a brand’s message becomes clear. When that’s complete, though, design and content are armed with a singular ethos that can inform the implicit and explicit messages their creations deliver.


  • An effective story should:
  • Communicate what a brand does
  • Make customers – both internally and externally – care
  • Explain the problem the brand is trying to solve for
  • Foster trust & loyalty with everyone it touches

Here are some brand statements from top companies that do just that:


  • Apple is dedicated “to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”
  • Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman believes, “if you have a body, you are an athlete.” And Nike, “stresses to show each and every person how to reach the athlete within themselves.”
  • Airbnb is creating “a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”
  • Coca-Cola strives to, “craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit.”
  • Southwest strives to, “connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Then visualize that story

It’s not just words that drive initial interest. emotional attachments or an overall experience with a brand. In fact, sometimes, design can play an even bigger role in that, especially when viewed through a lateral or psychological lens.


Voice and tone, as mentioned previously, set the stage. It gives a designer purpose to create, illustrate, and plan around. But taking that voice and tone to the next level with a visual archetype that aligns with things people have seen before, creates connection and relevancy, or elicits an emotional response can enable a brand to be understood without ever having to read anything.


A great example is Pinkberry. When defining the brand story, they chose a sweeter, more feminine look. Their visual design, whether on social media or in their yogurt shops, reflect a consistent aesthetic and mood. By using cursive typefaces, pastelle and airy colors, and curved illustrations, customers – old or new – immediately associate the brand with playful, approachable, youthful and delightful attributes.

 

Photo of Pinkberry's website

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story. Some things they take into consideration are:

Color:

  • Red: Communicates energy and urgency; Red is often used to communicate boldness, youthfulness and excitement
  • Orange: Sometimes perceived as aggressive, orange creates a call-to-action; it can elicit feelings of confidence, cheerfulness or friendliness
  • Yellow: An attention-grabber, yellow typically elicits feelings of optimism, clarity, and warmth
  • Green: The easiest color for the eye to process, green is often used in fields related to science, government and HR. It can cultivate feelings of peace, growth and health.
  • Blue: Often associated with feelings of trust and security, blue is seen as clean, calming, and professional, as well as dependent and strong.
  • Purple: Regularly used in the beauty industry, purple is associated with being wise, creative and imaginative.
  • Gray: The most practical and timeless of the colors, gray is used to communicate balance, neutrality, reliability and a level of calmness.
  • Black: Often used by luxury brands, black is seen as powerful and sleek. It can contribute to feelings of credibility, power, professionalism, and precision.

Shape:

  • Circular: Elicits feelings of community, friendship, love, partnership, unity, stability and innovation. Example of brands with a circular logo include Google Chrome, Starbucks, and Audi
  • Angular: Elicits feelings of professionalism, stability, and efficiency, as well as power, strength, balance, and reliability. Examples of brands include Mitsubishi Motors, Microsoft, and AirTable
  • Linear: Elicits feelings of exuberance, balance, sophistication, energy, and dynamic movement. Examples include AirBnB, Adidas, and Cisco

Whatever colors and shapes are used, the end result should visually represent the brand’s values, voice and tone.

Make the creative game plan

One question brands often ask is: Does the design framework come first? Or should content be strategized and written to drive design?


The answer: There is no answer. In fact, figuring that out is part of the creative process.


Some designers prefer to have content before they create a mockup. Some content creators prefer to know what space they need to fill before they begin writing. There is no right or wrong answer to your team’s plan as long as it is clearly defined, timelines are established, outlines are created and good project management is executed.


Teams who stick to the schedule and hold one another accountable benefit from more effective communication that helps bring the brand vision to life.

 

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story.

Evaluate your work & iterate regularly

As content and design work together, flexibility is key. A good CX strategy should be consistently evaluated, refined, evolved and transformed to meet ever-changing audience needs and compete with advancements in the industry.

 

Delegating tasks can help brands stay on top of potential and necessary updates: Direct content teams to share new trending keywords that can relate to a brand’s business or audiences and designers to report on new industry trends and evolving capabilities.

 

Ideally, all assets and content creation strategies should be evaluated at least once every six months.

The bottom line

Content and design can create powerful and consistent customer experiences when they work synergistically and are aligned on desired messaging. By bringing a number of creative brains with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to the table, you’ll be able to rethink what’s possible and create something that not only drives initial brand differentiation, but a process for continued improvement and growth that exceeds customers expectations and delivers exceptional value at every step of the journey.

Categories
News

This Week in CX: LinkedIn Goes Shopping, Burger King Loans Its Crown & More

In this week’s installment of “This Week in CX,” we list the biggest business, tech and data developments that occurred this past week and will most certainly impact how we design and deliver the customer experiences of tomorrow.

Volvo unmasks car consumers’ new wish list

Auto-brakes are so 2019.

 

Volvo partnered with The Harris Poll to figure out what drivers really want from their cars in a post-pandemic world and discovered that the definition of their brand core value – safety – has taken on new meaning.

 

After navigating a year of viral fear and uncertainty, consumers are re-evaluating how they interact with the outside world and are finding more creative ways to have experiences from the safety of their cars. They’re attending drive-in movies, zoomin’ through zoos, going for scenic drives, throwing drive-by celebrations and enjoying some quiet time by designating vehicles their “alone zones”. Cars are no long just a means of transportation – they’ve become a place for peace and connection during COVID.

 

And as the world settles into the new normal of being more homebound and socializing from a distance, this trend won’t stop. As public transportation and ride sharing services take a hit, people will continue to explore the outside world from the protection of their cars. It’s this change that is also driving new demands for built-in safety features.

 

According to Volvo’s Safety First: The Evolution of Driving and Mobility in 2020 report, air conditioners with germ filtering technology is the number one wish on many driver’s lists, followed by car sanitation services as part of standard packages, contactless service/maintenance offerings, built-in sanitizer dispensers and a place to store masks.

 

Also read: What’s In Store For the Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World?

 

“Given all that we’ve experienced this past year, the uncertainty and the safety risks, people just don’t feel safe,” says our Head of Strategy and Innovation Jesus Ramirez. “We’re all in constant fight or flight mode. People are looking around for any way to feel safe and for any semblance of security. Brands and businesses have an opportunity to account for these concerns in their products and services. Whether it’s restaurants and the precautions they’re taking to keep patrons safe, to product packaging, to airline procedures, to auto manufacturers.”

"We’re all in constant fight or flight mode. People are looking around for any way to feel safe and for any semblance of security."

Are you asking yourself how your business can increase safety and trust felt by customers? You should be. And, by the way, we can help.

LinkedIn gives users a new way to spend money

LinkedIn is no longer just a platform where users can socialize, search, stalk, and scroll; now it’s transforming its experience from passive to active by rolling out a digital storefront.

 

By allowing companies to build Product Pages into their profiles, LinkedIn is helping brands cultivate conversations and connections with customers and followers. These Product Pages will educate users about a company’s solutions, generate new qualified leads, and ultimately contribute to overall growth. Even better, Rishi Jobanputra, the Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, said the pages will help brands build “a network of people who can become advocates of products.” Marketers will be able to gather ratings and reviews, highlight product endorsements and testimonials, and drive new and existing consumers to request demos or schedule meetings with the sales team via a call-to-action button.

“While Account Based Marketing has garnered Linkedin a lot of buzz in the performance marketing space lately, I believe their latest announcement of the launch of Product pages will move Linkedin from a trendy tactic to a must have strategy for every B2B marketing plan,” predicts Tallwave Senior Strategist Brian Hambrick. “Product Pages and the in-the-works Services Pages moves Linkedin from a top- and mid-funnel media channel to a full-funnel media channel where marketers can even close the sale within the platform.”

Brian suspects that most brands will want to use the Product Pages to drive customers to their existing websites, but with an audience of 722 Million business professionals who trust the platform, thinks the customer value of that strategy will be challenged.

 

“B2B brands will need to figure out how Linkedin can play a role in their customer journey and how these Product Pages – and the actions brands can generate from them – will fit into their larger CX strategy. Either way, Linkedin is quickly becoming one of the most important media channels for B2B marketers.”

 

Hey, it’s our favorite social media platform, so we’re here for it all.

Burger King UK promotes tacos, pasta and other stuff

No, they’re not expanding their menu, they’re just extending a helping hand.

 

Back in November, Burger King UK told their 350,000 followers to eat at McDonalds as a way to encourage people to support fast food chain restaurants during the pandemic and shelter-in orders.

It must have boded well for them (it did, they received tons of media coverage and fanfare), because this past Monday they took it a step further and announced the #WhopperAndFriends campaign.

“As we head into tier three across more parts of the country, it’s clear independent restaurants need all our support,” Burger King UK said in their social media post. “So we’ve decided to give you a break from our burger pics and make our Instagram available to all restaurants. Until they reopen, they can advertise on our Instagram for free.”

 

Pretty damn cool, in fact, our Associate Creative Director Albert Barroso said it was one of the coolest things he’s seen from a big brand in a while. By simply tagging Instagram food photos with #WhopperAndFriends, smaller businesses can have their signature dishes shared with burger lovers everywhere.

 

Albert wasn’t the only Tallwaver giving Burger King kudos for this do-good campaign. Paid Media Coordinator Lauren Franklin also called it a whopper (see what I did there?).

 

“It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is hurting. Burger King using their platform to help their competitors says a lot about them as a company,” she explains. “A lot of companies wouldn’t be comfortable with openly promoting their competitors but by doing just that – elevating their competitors in such a public way – they have, in turn, elevated their own platform.”

 

Also read: How a Powerful Brand Works as Insurance

 

So, basically, by telling fans to eat somewhere else, Burger King indirectly increased their own customer advocacy and support. They reflected their values in their actions and gave their customers those warm, fuzzy feelings that drive long-term retention and loyalty. And this, folks, is why they wear the crown… well, when they’re not loaning it out.

They reflected their values in their actions and gave their customers those warm, fuzzy feelings that drive long-term retention and loyalty.

AR, AI and Voice continue to take over the world

Are you ready for the future? Because, if you didn’t notice, it’s here.

 

AllWork.Space released its marketing trend prediction for 2021 and it’s all about voice search. Based around SEMrush’s forecast that more than half of all households (55%) will own smart speakers by 2022, AllWork.Space says voice search will evolve from a nice-to-have to an absolute must-have marketing strategy in 2021.

 

When pinged about the prediction, Tallwave’s Senior Product Designer Austin Baker wanted to share his own thoughts and projections on technologies that will force companies to raise their standards and re-envision their experiences in a post-pandemic and more distanced world.

 

First up: Austin says XR – short for extended reality, XR encompasses all augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies – is finally becoming mainstream.

 

“It’s something that’s been played with for the past decade, but is just starting to work smoothly and easily. From virtually trying clothes on to seeing how furniture would look in your home or sitting down for a telehealth appointment with your doctor, XR will definitely start driving and pushing brands to create new 360-degree customer experiences.”

 

“On that same note,” Austin says, “I think VR paired with AR will start to become more available. Many schools and companies will continue to work from home and the challenges associated with remote working and learning won’t go away. I suspect, because of this, we’ll see some AR/VR technology that was shuffled onto the back-burner resurrected. Even better, in 2021, I bet we’ll see the first good iterations of VR meeting rooms – they’ll be closer to photo realism and much less cumbersome.”

 

And, as AllWork.Space reported, we can’t overlook voice search. While Austin says voice technology continues to improve (“Alexa works great, Google works great, Siri is… OK….”), the real problem is with the user experience.

 

“Alexa is integrated into every room of so many homes. It operates the lights. It turns on the TV. But when things go wrong – it plays on the wrong speaker or plays an explicit hip-hop song instead of Hamilton – frustration ensues and everyone starts yelling at the in-home robot. It’ll get there,” Austin says, “but the challenge has more to do here with how we expect the interaction to occur. Privacy and proper AI integration are going to be the greatest driving factors for experience. We can’t have devices listening for context without trusting that our privacy is protected for, as well.”

"The challenge has more to do here with how we expect the interaction to occur."

Overall, Austin wants to see all of the technologies come together to work synergistically towards making products – and experiences – more seamless and accessible for everyone.

“For example, they can be better utilized for people with disabilities. AR/VR technologies can be used for voice or eye tracking. That’s going to be something that companies that are committed to inclusivity and creating change start to explore. That will be really exciting and is much needed.”

 

Also read: Solving For the Lack of Diversity in CX

 

What a note to end on. We can’t wait to help Austin’s predictions come true by creating exceptional experiences that are designed with everyone in mind.

Categories
Mindfulness Strategy

Help Us Support Healthcare Heroes This Holiday Season

In the words of our leaders, 2020 was surreal and challenging, but also a year of immense of learning.
  
Through it all – the pandemic action plans, work from home, civil unrest and political elections – our healthcare workers remained steadfast in their mission and promise to take care of our communities. They have felt the long hours and longer days, held our loved ones who’ve recovered and passed, forfeited memories with their own children and partners, and supplied us with information when we needed it most. We are so thankful and forever in debt.

Throughout it all, our healthcare workers remained steadfast in their mission and promise to take care of our communities.

Help us help them

 
To put action to our words of thanks, on behalf of our Tallwave employees and clients, we are donating meals to the healthcare heroes of Banner Health. If you feel so inclined, you too can give back in the following ways:
 
  • Give a monetary donation here.
  • Donate personal items: If you have connections to secure bulk items of individually packaged meals, snacks and beverages, or bulk donations of personal care and comfort items (gentle and unscented skincare products, lip balm, cooling towels, mini fans, and more), contact Loren Bouchard at loren.bouchard@bannerhealth.com or 602-747-7439.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, our healthcare workers need our support more than ever. No action will ever be thanks enough for all they have done and continue to do. We are so grateful. 
 

A few words from our leaders

 
If you’d like to hear a few words about 2020 and how Tallwave navigated through the year, please watch the message from our leaders below:

Categories
Strategy

Solving for the Lack of Diversity in CX

Diversity and inclusivity – or lack thereof – in customer experiences impact all internal and external stakeholders touched by a brand. First, employees and second, consumers.

 

Throughout 2020, many companies – including our own – vowed to increase education, advocacy, and efforts towards diversifying talent and improving inclusivity in brand messaging. They set their sights on reaching new audiences and, in doing so, growing their core customers to include minority groups. But, as we’ve learned first-hand while working with Dr. Daryl Jones – a leadership development, organizational transformation & DEI consultant – that’s easier said than done. Creating diverse CX isn’t just a strategy to connect with external customers, it starts within a company’s walls where the true drivers of your experiences live and play.

 

In this Q&A, we talk to Dr. Daryl Jones about what it really takes to solve for the lack of diversity in CX and how this work contributes to the trust, confidence, and safety customers feel throughout their individual journeys with companies.

 

Also read: What is CX & Why Does it Matter?

Q&A with Dr. Daryl Jones

Photo of Dr. Daryl Jones

Tallwave: Thank you so much for speaking with us today! To kick this off, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

 

Dr. Daryl Jones: Sure, I grew up in the Midwest… completed my undergrad at Michigan State with a marketing degree. I went to graduate school in Chicago at DePaul and then went on to get my doctorate at Case Western in Cleveland. From a career perspective, I started off in the automotive industry and ultimately ended up in the sports industry with Nike. I spent about 19 ½ years there in a number of different roles, primarily in revenue generation, but I also did a really formative stint in diversity and inclusion. I was really focused on transforming the internal culture and how we made decisions around diverse communities. I taught college for a couple years and now I have my own consulting practice focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

TW: So, as you mentioned, you guide and consult organizations through diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) work. What are some high level trends you’re seeing in your work right now?

 

DJ: I’m seeing a lot of energy around racial diversity. I’m seeing a lot of learning around racial diversity. I’m seeing a lot of sensitivity in bias awareness. Where the fork in the road tends to appear is that separation between using this work as a branding opportunity versus an opportunity to transform and evolve the existing business model. That becomes a personal decision based on leadership. I am also seeing some really tough decisions having to be made, especially depending on the industry, about what a company’s vision is and how they foresee the nature of their workforce – demographics, psychographics, etc. Changes are having to be made if they plan to evolve…. But I’ve also seen companies use this [COVID] as a real opportunity to transform. While the chips are down for other companies, a lot of them have taken a leadership position in this zone and it has paid off.

TW: Why does work around improving diversity in CX have to start from within? A lot of companies want to craft diverse experiences for external customers but they can’t do that without first making internal choices and change. Why is that?

 

DJ: I think it’s very difficult. You may have a few [external CX] wins just by being innovative but eventually you’ll screw up, and when that time comes, the price can be heavy. We see it all of the time. It’s the minute you try to do too much and you convince yourself that you’re an expert in something you actually know very little about – which oftentimes is culture – or you appropriate a culture, that’s when the light shines on you. So, I think before innovative companies can stake a claim in this space, they need to check themselves on how diverse they are and to what extent they embrace diversity across seven clear principles [voice, values, opportunity, respect, transparency, authenticity, and culture]. Not just the way we think or the experiences our employees have, but do you embrace this whole concept and the entire journey of every single employee that you have psychographically and demographically? And is their experience allowing them to add value to the organization like anyone else? Just having the numbers usually isn’t enough… Before you try to be an example or guide someone or a customer, you have a lot of work to do internally, whoever you are.

"Before innovative companies can stake a claim in this space, they need to check themselves on how diverse they are."

TW: Many companies want to attract more diverse clients. How have you seen DEI changes within the company impact external success?

 

DJ: There’s a lot of two-way learning that takes place at that executive level [during the DEI work]… From an optics perspective, it’s important that the organization sees what the executive team says it values actually play out. [When that happens], the optics change. “Wow, okay, I see that person in the seat. I see that person making a decision. I see that person adding value at a high level, it’s not just talk anymore.” That’s empowering for an organization. From a business perspective, we talk a lot about how it adds to innovation and it does. But beyond innovation, when I talk about diversity, I assume talent. I’m not talking about making any concession to bring diversity on. I assume a high level of talent just as I do with someone who’s “non-diverse.” So, you’re adding talent to the organization – folks that have a professional journey that no one else has. That adds value to the organization…. That cascade [effect] has many aspects to it. The tough part is when organizations have operated so long without it and deem themselves successful. It can be tough to get around that corner because you’ve never experienced it. You are 70% of the time hitting your profit margin goals; your profit logic seems to work for you. Leaders sometimes question why they really need to make this change any higher than the baseline folks in the organization.

TW: It comes down to what you deem success as. Hitting quotas and making money is one type of success, but if you’re in the business of serving your community – even if you’re achieving your goals and the board is happy – you’re not really succeeding in the community.


DJ: The community aspect is really important. I’ll even stop short of that and say how successful do you want to be and have you been limiting your vision of success because you haven’t experienced diversity? There are markets you haven’t even pursued. So you’re making tough decisions now but it’s going to [end up benefiting] everything… If you’re serious about maximizing opportunity, I think not pursuing high level diversity is a big mistake.

 

TW: Let’s rewind and start at the beginning. How does your DEI work with a company typically begin?


DJ: I start with a conversation with the highest level executive team. I like to understand what their sense of the organization is right now. What’s prompting them to do this work? Are they willing to make really tough decisions down the road and maybe have some discomfort? Then I shift into a conversation with that second level of the organization and understand what’s the history been around diversity? What are the statistics telling us? What are the demographics of the organization? Then I like to hear from the organization and that’s where cultural assessments come in. It’s very difficult to do this work if you jump into training and development, but you haven’t accessed the organization across critical principles – that’s the next step. That’s the beginning of the work for me. It’s oftentimes the toughest part, especially when the data is staring you right in the face and the organization has been clear because everything we do is anonymous. So those are the first steps – to hear from everyone in the organization and not assume anything.

 

"How successful do you want to be and have you been limiting your vision of success because you haven’t experienced diversity?"

TW: How do you guide people through the realization and acceptance of the statistics that they did not intend to be racially unequal or biased in the company?

 

DJ: Fortunately, I have a pretty long history with a company who has had its peaks and valleys as it relates to racial diversity, and gender diversity quite honestly. So, part of what I can do is speak to experience and how – if a decision is made and embraced – how successful you can be… On the other hand, there are certain organizations that I wouldn’t try to convince a racially diverse employee base to work with because the culture is wrong for them. So, what I try to do is convince a leader that this journey they’re about to embark on must be personal and professional, but it must be personal first. If you’re disconnected outside of work, you’re going to have a much tougher time making critical decisions about DEI at work. Don’t think you can step in and step out – the Clark Kent Superman scenario – you can’t do that. This becomes a life journey and the two entities [personal & professional life] are connected. And if you don’t see it, employees see it. There’s a transparency piece to this that extends beyond working in the office. What does your life at home look like? And that’s the part that is often tough – you have to bring that personal shift into the office, you can’t put it on once you get to the office.

TW: What are some things people need to evaluate about their life at home? How does that impact their diversity efforts in the workplace?

 

DJ: Well, there’s a couple things. How willfully ignorant are you? Do you allow yourself to stand on the periphery of racism? Or are you active and addressing it? How complicit are you? Do you allow conversations to be had that are unacceptable in your presence? Are you dismissive? And I think another one that people really tend to overlook is how conflicted you can become when these other three things happen. Are you saying one thing at home and in your social circles and trying to say something different at work? I think that’s more important.

" If you're disconnected outside of work, you're going to have a much tougher time making critical decisions about DEI at work."

TW: How does social media play into this? How powerful is social media as an activist?

 

DJ: Well, I think social media can be powerful, but I think there are a number of people who use it as a crutch. There are some people who don’t post anything at all who are doing more work than any of us. Social media can tell us a lot, but I don’t rely on it for my answers. I have a process that I use to separate the branding aspect of this from the business model aspect… Social media plays a role, as it does in so many different sectors of life, but I personally don’t rely on that to make any determination on where a person is in this journey. It’s too easy to post or not post, or be so innovative in other aspects of your life, but when it comes to [DEI work] you become a re-poster, for example. So, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.

 

Also read: Social Media Mission Statements: What Are They & How Do They Help Your Strategy?

TW: Many companies shared sentiments of support for #BlackLivesMatter on social media but were then challenged to share what their plans for learning, listening and improving really were. If a company said the right words but didn’t know what actions to take, where can they start?

 

DJ: Honestly, maybe I’ve been around too long, but long enough to be skeptical. I don’t buy into the narrative of confusion and not knowing what to do. I buy into the narrative of it not being important enough. There are so many aspects of business where leaders have become experts because it was important to them and it was an undertaking that was a requisite. This isn’t treated as a requisite. I don’t know how you could be so confused about this, but so enlightened in other areas of the business. So, when I hear the words, “This can be confusing!”, I’m skeptical of that. I think you haven’t decided how important it is to you, yet. Or you have and you’re not talking about it. You’ve made a decision – it’s not important to you. I’ve been around too many business leaders who are great at some wonderful things. Being confused about this is confusing to me.

 

TW: That makes so much sense. You’re really fond of golf, and you want to be an expert in golf, so you go out and do it.

 

DJ: First thing you do, you hire a pro. Second thing you do, you buy clubs and you start practicing. It’s very simple if you want to be great at it. DEI is no different. What hasn’t been decided with a lot of leaders is “I want to be good at this and I want to make change.” Because there comes a point when the data is there and the numbers are staring at you, and it’s not about what I tell you anymore, it’s about what you want to do. And I love it when we get to that point because it’s not in my hands, anymore. The charter is there. The people who have stepped up and exercised their voices have done so with passion. What are you going to do?

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t Be All Data Driven

"I’ve been around too many business leaders who are great at some wonderful things. Being confused about this is confusing to me."

TW: You’ve mentioned the need to make tough decisions a couple times. What are some of those tough decisions that companies often have to make?

 

DJ: If your executive team is all white and you claim you want to build a diverse organization, you have a tough decision to make. If you want to stay like that and still claim you’re going to be diverse, I think you have some really tough decisions to make. It’s not easy to change the composition of a team, initially… Oftentimes, I find that the work that they do remains lower down in the company. There’s no intention of shifting that homogenous group at the top. But to think you can remain static [within your leadership team] and bring [other] diverse employees in who think, “I’m not even going to get [advancement] in my head because there’s no one there that even looks like me, understands me, wants to connect with me.” I don’t see how that’s a viable journey for business leaders. If you say this is your vision, then you have to rethink everything. So, one of the toughest things for me is when we get to this charter phase – developing a charter for diversity – these decisions start to fall on the organizations. I can provide skeletal models and [outlines of] things you need to think about, but then decisions need to be made at the executive level. It needs to be authentic to them.

 

TW: So what kind of data or KPIs do you usually suggest for measuring how efforts are playing into overall business?

 

DJ: It’s critically important to understand the seven aspects that are critical to DEI – voice, values, opportunity, respect, transparency, authenticity, and culture. I measure employee sentiment on each one of those using a SWOT analysis. Do the responses represent a strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat for your organization based on your employee feedback? Same with all seven. That tells us a number of different things: A) How employees feel because the SWOT analysis is anonymous, and B) what to measure our progress against. It provides a baseline for future work to see how valuable the change implemented is when we do additional assessments in 6-12 months. So, as opposed to simply relying on narratives, we use hard numbers. That tends to provoke folks to act. Along with that, we do supplement with narratives. Say more about the company’s voice and ask employees for feedback on that. It’s pretty much consistent though with the scores that we get. What’s interesting is we can get scores that range from a nine, which means this is a strength for the organization, or one, which highlights a threat. Leaders have to own all of the responses that they receive. For example, if you have an organization of 75 employees and 10% of your organization say opportunity is a threat, but your score ended up at an average 9.2, are you going to own that 10% or does that not matter? That threat is living and breathing in the organization. If it’s anonymous, what does that 10% look like? It’s the 10% who doesn’t feel relevant to the culture. So, we’re very diligent about that step in the process and were very diligent about leadership taking accountability.

"Decisions need to be made at the executive level. It needs to be authentic to them."

TW: Any last comments you’d like to share?

 

DJ: I believe in people and I believe in talent. I know how I grew up, and I don’t think hard work is enough. I think we have to acknowledge certain things that are systemic and certain things that we may not want to buy into. I like to get leaders out of embarrassment mode as soon as I can because a lot of embarrassment comes with this. You’re typically not producing when you’re in embarrassment mode. It’s okay to be embarrassed for a night when these numbers come through and you don’t like them. Turn around, get back to work, get out of the embarrassment mode, focus on what we’re going to do. Because often, this was never a focus. How could you have great assessment numbers?… [Leaders] can relearn and we can create new habits and beliefs, [they] just have to put in the work.

 

Learn more about Dr. Daryl Jones by checking out his podcast The Conscious Vibe and following him on LinkedIn, and read more about Tallwave’s culture on our website here.

Categories
News

This Week in CX: Party City Reimagines Celebrations, Barnes & Noble Goes Hyperlocal & More

Also included in our second installment of “This Week in CX” (a weekly series in which we discuss some of the biggest news in tech, data and business that could impact experiences of tomorrow): The BIA Advisory Services released their local media ad spend predictions for 2021 and SEO experts everywhere started analyzing the impacts of Google’s December 2020 Core Update. 

 

Let’s jump right in!

2021 ad spend predictions are here & traditional media is… dead?

The BIA Advisory Services have spoken. Forecasts for advertising dollars are out and, despite still dealing with a pandemic, local media spending is expected to start recovering from this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Increasing 2.5% ($137.5 billion) in 2021, the projections still fall almost $24 billion dollars short of the ad spend in 2019. BIA says they don’t expect to see a full recovery until at least 2022… and even that might be wishful thinking.

 

What really got our Tallwavers talking, though, is where the money is expected to go. According to the forecast, traditional media is taking a huge hit. Advertising dollars in local TV will decrease by 14.2% next year – that’s 15.7 billion dollars. But simultaneously, online, mobile, and TV stations local OTT (short for over-the-top, OTT usually refers to streaming or video-on-demand content options) and CTV (devices that are used to watch TV online including smart TVs and gaming consoles) predictions are seeing big dollar signs. OTT and CTV are predicted to increase 20% ($1.2 billion); online is expected to grow by almost double digits to 9.5% (23.3 billion) and mobile should take up 18.4% ($23.4 billion) of the yearly ad spend revenue. With those numbers, online and mobile will represent a third of all U.S. local advertising “a shit ton,” as our Director of Performance Marketing Dallas McLaughlin put it. Meanwhile, direct mail is expected to remain the largest U.S. local media platform accounting for 23% ($31.2 billion) of the local advertising share, and local radio is expected to hold strong with a 1.4% ($12.6 billion) increase.

Local media spending is expected to start recovering from this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

Curious how accurate this forecast could be? Our Senior Paid Media Specialist Kelsey O’Grady says it’s right on the money. “Consumers’ day-to-day behaviors have adapted to our new way of living during quarantine, but we are still consuming a lot of media.” So, what does that mean for companies who are planning their ad spend strategies for 2021? Just keep swimming.

 

“After the 2008 recession, businesses who maintained strong ad spend left the recession with higher brand recognition and affinity,” Kelsey explains. “Tallwave has a lot of clients who have maintained a strong digital presence throughout 2020 with a lot of success, and I believe they will continue to find success in 2021.” But don’t go spending your money just anywhere. 

 

“The key goes back to knowing your audience. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who they are and what their affinities are. With digital advertising continuing to grow and become more competitive, prices will go up for quality placements and it will be more important than ever to make sure you are showing to the right user.”

 

One last tip: Be sure to define your goals (KPIs) for your 2021 ad spend and evaluate how you’re progressing month-over-month. “One of the things that it is important for brands to keep in mind is sometimes it’s better to look at your media performance holistically than it is to hyper focus by channel,” advises Kelsey. “Upper funnel tactics will have different KPIs than lower, but it doesn’t take away their value in your plan.”

 

Also read: Nat Geo Goes Extinct, Salesforce Gets Some Slack & More

Three Companies Make Huge CX Moves

Make way, make way. Legacy companies are unveiling their CX transformation strategies for 2021! A number of companies made announcements this past week revealing plans to evolve their experiences and products in the coming year. From coolest to “lamest,” here are the changes that are worthy of taking note.

Party City wants to spend every Saturday night with you

Who’s ready for some virtual fun? Party City announced  their plan to help customers “imagine well” by providing new ways to party both safely and virtually. And they’re getting the word out by leaning into content creation and communication rather than advertising.

 

“We are trying to make it easy for customers to still celebrate,” Party City’s CMO Julie Roehm told MediaPost. “We would like to be the author of more trends, rather than a follower of them. With the insights and the knowledge that we have about the celebration space, I think it’s our purview to do that. We have an entire party planning team that we’re setting up B2C and B2B, and it’s not paid.”

But how are they doing it exactly? By bringing virtual party planners to a computer near you. No matter the event, Party City’s customers will be able to find inspiration, how-tos, and shopping lists on their website (or in-store on their “inspiration walls”). Then they can opt to be connected to Party City virtual party planners or members of the “Joy Squad” (which also includes social influencers, store associates, etc.) who will pull the materials together for their little shin-digs. It’s a huge rebranding initiative that requires every associate and exec chip in. And they managed to get that company-wide buy-in – albeit a few bumps in the road – by over-communicating the plan and finding “change ambassadors” and “change champions” in every region to provide valuable employee and customer feedback to continue improving the experience for all those involved.

 

“This is my favorite story of the week,” says our VP of Brand Strategy Jesus Ramirez. “It shows a company/brand rethinking the role it has in the lives of its customers, especially under the context of our new norm. For them, it was helping their customers rethink ways to stay healthy and spark joy in a time when joy is hard to come by.”

 

"It shows a company/brand rethinking the role it has in the lives of its customers, especially under the context of our new norm."

“The other lesson from the story is that this type of seismic transformative shift requires leadership and buy-in from top to bottom,” Jesus explained. “That starts with boldness and vision from leadership, relentless communication throughout, to empowering their teams to be the champions of change.”

Survivor: The Barnes & Noble edition

After years of struggling to sell books and increase foot traffic in their brick & mortar stores, Barnes & Noble is making “the most ambitious restructuring ever undertaken at the company.” It’s one they hope will change (and save) “the future for traditional bookselling.”

 

Led by the fearless and passionate independent book owner Chief Executive James Daunt, their plan to give curation power back to executive managers is already underway. Envisioning a future where shelves are thoughtfully stocked to align with hyperlocal tastes rather than paying-publishers’ agendas, Daunt let nearly half of the company’s New York-based corporate sellers, book buyers, and powerful tastemakers go.

“It’s an interesting move and one that plays to their strengths,” says Jesus. “But they’re also betting on local curators being better at recommendations than Amazon’s algorithms, which is tough. What I’d love to see them adopt is what we at Tallwave call a ‘data-powered human curation’ model that leverages personalization data and adds a layer of personal touch to close the loop with the consumer. It’s something we’re helping several of our clients with at the moment.”

 

Also read: What’s in Store? The Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World

 

He’s right. Barnes & Noble is making a bold move, but in trying to give the huge chain little “shop around the corner” vibes, Daunt hopes the grounded, more intentional approach will decrease return rates and encourage former customers to reconnect with their store and books. We’ll just have to wait and see how this new chapter unfolds.

Crest becomes squeezably sustainable

And in what we’re calling “Jesus’s least favorite story of the week,” Procter & Gamble announced their plans to market fully recyclable Crest & Oral B toothpaste tubes across America starting in January, with the goal of selling only recyclable tubes by 2025.

 

Despite being good for the environment – which don’t get us wrong, is great– it leaves us wanting a little more. “For me, while great, it isn’t innovative or bold enough. ” explains Jesus. 

 

“To meet the current climate crisis brands need to make bolder transformational moves: Eliminate packaging altogether. Create a direct-to-consumer line that requires less external packaging and delivers larger quantities. Offer a sustainability program that allows consumers to send back packaging for rebates on future products. Create new product formulations or form factors that don’t require such sensitive packaging. Honestly, what they’re currently rolling out is a bit underwhelming.”

 

"To meet the current climate crisis brands need to make bolder transformational moves."

There ya have it – Party City FTW, Crest… give us a call next time.

Google does Google things, changes algorithm before the holidays

In somewhat unexpected but wholly unsurprising news, Google gifted marketers a new algorithm update this holiday season. Making the announcement last week and just hours before its release, Google tweeted, “It is called the December 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before.”

So very detailed. While the news of the core update is old by now, what it means for search moving forward is still very much unknown. A number of data companies have claimed that the core update was “major” – bigger than any others that Google has released in recent history – and they fear it could negatively impact a lot of businesses right before the holidays.

 

According to RankRanger, rank volatility, average position change, and rank volatility by niche all saw substantial changes compared to the May 2020 core update. Meanwhile SEMRush (who just announced a huge rebrand, by the way) said industries that felt the largest desktop search changes included health, real estate, travel, finance, and law and government. On mobile search, health, law and government, jobs and education, pets and animals, and real estate were served up the biggest hits. Among the “winners” of the update, SEMRush claimed LinkedIn, Ebay, Vimeo, FourSquare and Yahoo saw the greatest benefits; alternatively, the update treated brands including Getty Images, Wish, Urban Dictionary, Yellow Pages and AliExpress unfavorably.

 

But our Senior Optimization Strategist Chase Alyeshmerni says there’s no need to panic, it’s just time to shift your perspective. “It can be difficult to pinpoint what needs to be done to reverse any negative impacts to your site after an algorithm update,” Chase says. “These updates consistently serve as reminders to SEO strategists, marketers, and webmasters that we need to take a step back and observe the website and the competitive landscape holistically. We should be focusing on providing valuable content to our users, and that should remain our North Star.”

"We should be focusing on providing valuable content to our users, and that should remain our North Star."

So, to sum it up, stop worrying about fulfilling Google’s algorithm demands, and instead, focus on fulfilling human needs. After all, Google changes its algorithm regularly to improve the experience they’re providing to their users. If you’re already crafting excellent experiences, then Google algorithm updates should no longer make you stress sweat.

 

“It’s critical that when users are searching for a product, service, or solution organically, they are met with content that is not only relevant to them, but delivered in a way that is easily digestible.”

 

And, of course, we have to point out that this all circles back and contributes to our favorite topic – the bigger picture: Delivering excellent CX that helps your brand stand above the rest.  

 

Also read: What is CX & Why Does it Matter?

 

“The focus of SEO is to maximize CX,” explains Chase. “All while adhering to search engine guidelines and leveraging the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) landscape.”

 

The game of creating content from an authentic, useful and optimized way takes a lot of brain power, but luckily, you’ve always got lots of (incredibly smart!) brains at Tallwave to call on. 

Categories
Strategy

What Is CX & Why Does It Matter

Just like life, CX is a compilation of moments. Not to be confused with UX – which describes experiences delivered through singular interactions, such as finding information, completing a task or searching a web page – decisions made in CX design are done so in a more holistic, long-term and enduring way that creates long-term trust and good will. When done right, it drives differentiated value and results in one million touch points over the course of a lifetime that empowers meaningful bonds with customers.

Often measured by overall experience or likeliness to continue use and recommend to others, CX is ultimately about making people feel good. It’s the new dark horse consciously and subconsciously driving buyers’ decision-making. With so many options and more power than ever to choose, customers can be more discriminatory about who they spend their time with and reward their money to. Simply put, if they don’t like you, they probably won’t continue to support you. On the other hand, if you give them an experience that is personal, memorable, and connects with them on a deeper level, you’ll win more than just their wallet share.

Simply put, if they don’t like you, they probably won’t continue to support you.

What does good CX look like & entail?

Good CX aligns purpose with value, is consistent, builds trust, and adds ease and enjoyability to every touchpoint and stage. It creates lasting impressions that drive customers – and employees – to shout your praises from the rooftops.

 

Crafting experiences is less about designing and controlling every single interaction. That’s not possible. It’s more about crafting the conditions in which certain types of interactions – ones that result in a positive and feel good impression – can happen consistently and reliably over time. That type of work takes data, commitment and, perhaps most importantly, strong cross functional collaboration.

 

Also read: How a Powerful Brand Works as Insurance

It all starts with your customer

You can’t have a great customer experience without understanding your customer – not to only understand what they think, feel and value, but why they think, feel, and value the things they do. It’s this type of data gathering, analysis and segmentation that enables brands – despite the industry or legacy longevity – to personalize their entire customer journey to satisfy customers’ unique needs.

 

Using both qualitative and quantitative strategies to gather information and compiling psychographic profiles as well as demographic ones can give you powerful insights into what your customers value most. The energy you invest into getting to know and truly serve your customers is the energy they’ll give back to you.

Then it takes heart

CX encompasses both internal and external stakeholders – in other words, employees, and customers – and when crafting CX, brands must prioritize human needs before business needs and work from the inside out. That means taking a hard look at the culture and experience provided for employees and mending areas of friction, breakdown or inconsistency with the brand’s core values.

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t All Be Data Driven

 

Part of cultivating a positive culture is empowering cross functional collaboration, a crucial component of integrated success that directly impacts external CX. Each person and team must understand the goals and play towards the same result. Crafting operational CX is like conducting an orchestra – each player contributes to the final product. No singular team can be the designated driver of CX. It takes collaboration between different functions to provide a holistic experience from the surface to the core that stays true to the brand’s purpose and delivers consistent messaging and predictability across all touchpoints, channels, and platforms for the end user.

Core Messaging Framework | Tallwave

Never stop evolving

Just as people evolve and grow over time, so should CX. Doing so requires a commitment to establishing feedback loops and signals that tell you how you’re doing, as well as a commitment to iterating and improving the areas of your business that impact CX. These include your personas, content, design experiences, marketing channels, product developments, and your employee-customer interactions. Doing so will ensure you will continue to deliver unforgettable moments that increase loyalty, build community, keep competitors at bay, and plant seeds for future growth.

 

Investing in excellent customer experiences is just that, an investment, but if done right, it can create a snowball effect of success.

 

Also read: How Companies Are Adapting Their CX During COVID-19

Stats That Prove the Importance of CX

Many studies have been completed around customer experience and sentiment through the years. Here are a couple stats that prove just how much a good CX strategy can impact business:

  • A PWC survey found that 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services that deliver positive customer experiences.
  • A Globe News Wire segment survey found that personalized experiences motivated 49% of buyers to make impulse purchases.
  • Out of 15,000 surveyed, PWC found that 1 in 3 consumers would abandon a brand they loved after just one bad experience; 92% would abandon after 2 or 3 bad experiences.
  • Customer service is dictating purchasing habits. A Salesforce survey reported that 73% of people who experience CX from one business raise the standards they hold other companies to. 

And with more and more companies investing money into improving their customer experiences each year (79% of surveyed executives told Simpler Media Group that improving digital CX is a very or extremely high priority for 2020 & on), some are already leading the way. Companies including Drift, AirBnB, and Lululemon continuously set the pace and expectation standards for their markets and are always looking for the next best way to personalize journeys to their customers’ needs.

The Bottom Line

Not every business or brand needs an altruistic mission but it does need to connect with its customers and be cognizant of how it makes customers feel at each stage in the user journey. “Experience is everything” is not just our rallying cry at Tallwave, it’s where we see consumers moving and where consequently brands need to move, as well. Companies who deliver exceptional experiences and make consumers feel good about their interactions will be the ones who become and remain relevant. It takes work and it requires continual commitment, but if the relationship with your customers matters to you as a brand, then it’s a commitment that should be fun and well worth it.

Categories
News

This Week in CX: Nat Geo Goes Extinct, Salesforce Gets Some Slack & More

What a week for our inaugural blog of “This Week in CX!” Industry publications were busy covering numerous acquisition and merger announcements, digital advancements in AI/AR, omnichannel user experience updates, and new innovative products created to serve a socially distanced world.

 

While it was hard to choose just four, these are the stories that got our Tallwavers talking and all CX connoisseurs and designers should know. 

CX – also known as customer experience – defines how people feel about brands and businesses. It encompasses every stage, conversation and interaction that takes place over time and across a variety of channels and ultimately informs and drives customer acquisition, retention, loyalty, and advocacy.

Verizon Unleashes a New Replacement for Third Party Cookies 

Shock coursed through the publishing and advertising worlds in early 2020 when Google announced its plans to ban cookies. Before media traders could even finish asking, “what do we do?”, companies were working on building alternative tools to replace the default online targeting tactics. On Tuesday, Verizon announced the launch of their solution: ConnectID, a unified ID that “helps advertisers buy, measure and optimize ads while enabling publishers to manage, monetize and navigate audiences – all without third party cookies.”

 

Fueled by direct relationships with their 900 million global consumers, a diverse IDgraph that runs on 200 billion content-based data signals daily, and a full-stack DSP and SSP. ConnectID provides nearly 900 billion customer touchpoints and is already receiving praise from brands, including Newsweek and Adstra. 

 

“Necessity is the mother of innovation,” says Dallas McLaughlin, our Director of Performance Marketing.  “In my opinion, cookies are an archaic technology. There’s all this panic around the idea of cookies going away. It does a great job at driving article clicks, link shares, and driving fear across clients, but the reality is that most modern agencies and media buyers aren’t — or shouldn’t be — heavily reliant on cookies anymore.”

 

Instead, Dallas suggests more consistent and insightful forms of tracking be used, like persistent logins, mobile device ID technology, and businesses leveraging their first-party data (CRM, POS) for targeting. 

 

“Cookies are one source of data among a sea of data points. When they go away, it will go largely unnoticed to the media agencies that have already advanced their tracking and targeting well beyond what cookies offered. After all,” he says, “media buying is a giant game of cops and robbers. Tracking and targeting technology will always out-pace rules and regulation. As cookies and any future technology gets regulated away, better, more advanced technology will quickly take its place.” 

National Geographic Introduces Interactive AR Instagram Filter as New Form of Experiential Content

National Geographic also released something new with an archaic twist – an interactive AR experience that allows people to see what Spinosaurus, Deinonychus and Yi Qi dinosaurs looked like based on new information uncovered by recent discoveries. Available as a filter only on Instagram, the unique content flips the script on the selfie-filter culture and offers an augmented storytelling experience to reach and engage new audiences – and it was smart.

Also Read: How a Powerful Brand Works as Insurance

“With so much competition within newsfeeds and stories, brands continuously need to find new ways to engage with their audience and learn how to use available technologies to do so,” says our Manager of Content Strategy Holly Ringerud. “The more that brands use interactive videos, VR, and AR experiences to bring their ideas to life, the more their competition will work to surpass those experiences. Brands that aren’t embracing interactive content should pay attention because they risk getting left behind.”

 

But how can brands who’ve yet to venture into the world of audio and video content, let alone AR, enter the arena? “Start small!” Holly advises. “Video doesn’t require expensive production to be effective. If it’s a good idea, short, simple videos or animations can be just as attention-grabbing.”

Instagram Announces a New Keyword Search Tool

While we’re on the topic of Instagram, this news is a tad older but keyword search has arrived, no hashtags required. That means when users search for something like “CX tips,” posts that feature said tips will surface even if they don’t have the hashtag #cxtips in the caption, username, bio, or comments.

 

“It opens so much opportunity for SEO,” says Tallwave’s Content Optimization Specialist Anna Fiorenza. “The option to add alt text within advanced settings has been around for a long time, but hasn’t had much value without the ability to search for keywords. It will be important to monitor if and how users interact with this new feature, but there is a chance that this type of capability could turn Instagram into an experience more like Pinterest.”

 

For now, the keyword search functionality is available in the UK, US, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It is currently optimized to only surface results for terms, topics, and keywords that fall within Instagram’s community guidelines, so if you’re searching for content on vaccines or the recent presidential election, you might want to search somewhere else.

 

Also Read: Social Media Mission Statements: What Are They & How Do They Help Your Social Strategy?

Salesforce Acquires Slack

Last but not least, we couldn’t ignore the story of the week: Salesforce acquired Slack – or as our Partner and Executive Vice President put it, “Bad CX buys good CX.”

Slack announcement from Salesforce Instagra

Paying $27.7 billion, Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff called the purchase “a match made in heaven,” saying, “Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.”

 

While opinions of the acquisition varied, Robert says it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. “It’s a common situation. A software company needs to grow, they acquire a software company with new capabilities to expand their footprint.” The transition ahead, however, may be a bit bumpy ride. “Often companies clip those new capabilities onto their existing product without really mapping the CX and UX first. The next thing you know, your product is a Frankenstein that no one really likes, needs tons of customer support, and is underutilized by customers.”

 

Well Salesforce, if you need help building an integrated roadmap for strategically planning and executing the next chapter of your digital transformation, you know who to call.