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This Week In CX: Mylk Tries to Be Funny, Masks Get a High-Tech Upgrade & More

Recently, a couple people have asked us what customer experience encompasses and why we select the stories we do for This Week in CX… afterall, they really run the gamut! From news about advertising campaigns to product development, rebrands, research, and algorithm updates, they speak to every sector of a company’s business and growth milestones. But the reason for that is quite simple: Every single interaction and/or touchpoint a potential or existing consumer or client has with your brand factors into your overall customer experience. The quality of the experience – whether it’s friction-less and purpose-driven, or full of frustrating, confusing, or triggering moments – continuously informs and evolves a customer’s perspective and affinity for your brand.

 

And the minute details – the words and images used in the messaging, the colors chosen for design, the tools used to deliver customization and personalization, the ease of navigation and product design, the foresights into changing consumer behaviors and expectations, the optimization that enables discovery and education – it all impacts a customer or consumer group’s experience with you. Like we always say, #ExperienceIsEverything.

 

Extreme care and intention must be carved into every business decision made, whether it obviously impacts the external customer, or not (because hint: employees are the drivers of experience and if they’re not happy, we bet you’ll notice a trickle-down effect). Cross-functional alignment on values, purpose, mission, voice, and personality is essential to providing consistent experiences that build rapport, dependability, and advocacy.

 

Also read: How to Craft Employee Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences

 

Hopefully, with that explanation, we’ve made our why behind the stories we choose a little easier to understand (if you’re still confused, we’d love to continue the conversation! Send us a DM here, here, or here). So, without further ado, here are the biggest product, marketing, and research developments that occurred this past week and will most certainly inform how we design and deliver the customer experiences of tomorrow.

The quality of the experience – whether it’s friction-less and purpose-driven, or full of frustrating, confusing, or triggering moments – continuously informs and evolves a customer’s perspective and affinity for your brand.

One Milk Alternative Brand Took Transparency to an Udderly Risky Level (Or Did They?)

 

Companies by and large have had to get creative with their marketing efforts as work-from-home and social distancing mandates have continued as our new normal. For example:

 

Apple released a commercial that showcases a slideshow of photos and videos – safe to guess all shot on iPhones – with the message, “Creativity goes on.” While simple, it does the job. Some of us may or may not have felt a little choked up.

Women’s Aid – a UK-based organization that provides live-saving services to those impacted by domestic abuse – took to the streets to capture footage of empty sidewalks, parks, stripmalls and sqaures. In between the commercial’s montage, simple white letters appear on a black screen that read, “Domestic abusers are no longer walking among us. They’re locked inside with their families.” A sobering reminder and plea to donate to help women and children in our communities whose homes are anything but safe.

Coors Light turned one Grandma’s tweet into a massive social campaign (and free beer spree) that ultimately raised brand awareness and customer sentiment. After 93-year old Olive Veronesi posted a photo with a beer can in one hand and a sign in the other that read, “I need more beer!”, Coors was quick to jump into action.

Grandma holding Coors Light and I Need More Beer sign

They delivered 10 cases to Olive’s doorstep (to which she posted another picture with an updated sign, “Got More Beer!”) and started a Twitter giveaway – one that resulted in dropping off a whopping 500,000 beers to people’s doorsteps – with the #CouldUseABeer hashtag.

Twitter #CouldUseABeer tweet

So, with creative ad campaigns piling up, what’s a new brand – who can’t supply samples in grocery stores to potential consumers but wants to make a splash in the marketplace – to do? Lean in, take risks, and follow the lead of the unconventional.

 

Milkadamia, a new nut-based milk alternative brand, introduced itself with a little transparency and light-heartedness. Afterall, we’ve all had a very serious year. They recruited seven Chicago-based comedians and sent them boxes of unidentified food items. The comedians (read: not scripted actors) were told to unbox the items and try them. On-camera. That’s it.

 

They called it the “Just One Taste LIVE campaign” and, while they aimed for authentic reviews of their products – ”I won’t say I wasn’t anxious,” CMO Christina Downey said – they also did some good by paying out-of-work improv actors to sit in their PJs and drink Milkadamia’s new macadamia nut milk. Although, just to be clear, none of them were actually wearing PJs. They look quite presentable in the final video. Which, come on, making the rest of us sitting in three-day old sweat pants look bad.

The campaign’s goal was to open people’s minds up to the possibility of plant-based milks, and while they may have achieved that, some Tallwave experts felt the campaign fell a little flat.

 

“The idea is good… But to be totally honest, the video feels kind of forced,” reviews our Manager of Content Strategy Holly Ringerud. “I know they said it was unscripted, but it’s obviously edited and everyone is well-lit. It’s just not as high concept or entertaining as I think it could have been.”

 

She finished: “But it’s an interesting update on the ol’ taste test!”

 

So, there’s that.

 

Our Director of Operations Kailen Campbell also loved the idea but was left wanting more. The biggest problem? It didn’t stay true to the campaign’s name and promise.

 

“The video campaign says it was ‘recorded for subsequent public distribution,’ right? So, this was not truly a live event – despite being called ‘Just One Taste LIVE’ – where people like me could join the Zoom and watch the big names taste everything in real-time,” Kailen pointed out. “Believability matters a whole lot with things like this.”

 

She did have some kudos to give.

 

“Creative? Totally! Unique? Yep. Good for them for giving us all something a little different.”

 

But it was actually another Milkadamia video that sparked greater interest in the brand and product for Kailen.

 

“I actually really enjoyed the educational promotional video more. I don’t know much about milk alternatives. I drink cow’s milk! So, the educational information made more of a lasting impression on me.”

 

It seems unanimous. A for creativity. A for taste. C for execution. Sorry, we can nut lie.

Facial Masks Get a High-Tech Makeover

Bonatone, a British electronics firm, recently released a high-tech, protective face mask that solves a pain point all mask-wearers have encountered at least once. With earbuds and a microphone built-in, Maskfone gives multitaskers the power to stay safe while continuing conversations – or listening to music, podcasts, etc. – while on the go. As CreativeBloq [https://www.creativebloq.com/news/maskfone-ultimate-face-mask] put it, “Anyone who has tried removing a mask with music plugged in will know it’s a recipe for lost earbuds, while trying to speak on the phone through a mask is a recipe for a sore throat.”

Simply put: Bronatone developed a product with hopes of changing the experience humans have with their protective masks, whether on a jog, at the grocery store, or taking a professional call while chasing a kid around Target.

 

But the real question of the hour: How has the pandemic changed people’s perceptions of crowds, germs, and distancing, and will newly-acquired safety-precautions – like wearing masks – continue once the threat of COVID-19 has passed?

 

“I think people will be more mindful about cleanliness – continuing to use hand sanitizers and wipes – while in public places and crowds. Companies may continue to offer sanitizing products to the public. I also foresee virtual experiences, such as Telehealth and contactless options continuing,” says Jenny Alexander, Product Designer at Tallwave. “But I definitely don’t see the use of masks persisting once the pandemic is resolved. There is already a lot of resistance to wearing them. Potentially a few extra cautious people may prefer wearing masks, but I only see the trend lasting for a short period in the post-pandemic world.”

Well, hopefully for Bronatone’s sake, the mask – which is made with four filter layers, washable and water-resistant fabric, comes with a variety of ear hook sizes and features controls buttons on the side, along with an app that can boost the speaker’s voice – sells out before we all go back to living the unmasked life.

 

Also read: How to Brainstorm For Innovation 

 

Speaking of COVID-inspired items… Has anyone created the bottomless toilet roll yet? Now, that’s a life-changing invention right there. 

New Survey Reveals New Charitable Donor Insights 

Data Axle released a new report titled New Best Practices to Connect With Today’s Charity Donors that highlights current behaviors, preferences, and sentiment among today’s charitable donors, particularly as they vary by age, gender, income and political affiliations.

 

Being that we work closely with a couple nonprofits and charitable organizations to improve their donor acquisition, digital footprint, and reach new (younger) audiences, we were interested.

"It all comes down to a charity’s customer experience."

Some key takeaways shared in the report include:

 

  • Preferences surrounding donation channels vary by age; 45% of donors 60+ prefer sending donations via mail; while all demographic groups between 18-60 prefer making donations by going to a nonprofit’s website unsolicited and donating online (ahem, a strong digital experience – and digital brand awareness strategy – is key).
  • Young donors (18-44) favor making monthly contributions to charities of their choice – it’s all about ease through recurring (subscription-like) models these days.
  • Omnichannel strategies and cross-channel communication is crucial. Email, direct mail, and social media were reported most important – with basically no one wanting to receive phone calls. However, and potentially most important, according to the report, donors prefer to “receive communications via one channel and donate through another, [so] synchronized cross-channel strategy is vital.”

“These findings do align with what we’ve seen through our partnerships and respective campaigns with donor-dependent nonprofit and charitable organizations,” says Tallwave Consultant Benjamin Pressman. “It all comes down to a charity’s customer experience. The starting point has to be internal alignment on what success looks like. This evaluation must rely on factoring the lifetime value of new donors into acquisition costs. In our experience, nonprofits can’t rely on each individual acquisition channel delivering a positive return, but instead need to, at a minimum, combine all acquisition and retention efforts’ costs to view the overall lifetime value return. More sophisticated evaluations can be developed to understand the influence each channel has on initial donation and retention of donors, but there needs to be an understanding that all channels contribute to the overall revenue brought in from donors.”

"In our experience, nonprofits can’t rely on each individual acquisition channel delivering a positive return."

And while cross-functional alignment and a defined roadmap for success and ROI is key, so is crafting a personalized, seamless cross-channel experience that encourages donations, as well as engagement and advocacy.

 

Also read: Optimizing paid media strategies for a 40,000% increase in leads

 

According to Benjamin (Benjie, as he’s known around the now-virtual office), there are two steps organizations should take to improve their cross-channel experience.

“The first is focusing on the current donor base and finding similar donors:

  1. Charities should analyze their current donor base and find common factors to acquire similar audiences that provide the needed long-term return in revenue
  2. Building in audience analytics to the acquisition funnel will also help charities understand where the pain points are in the prospect CX, and test and learn to alleviate those pain points
  3. Similarly, retention efforts’ pain points should be be evaluated through customer research to inform improvements in retention efforts

These efforts will provide the roadmap to acquiring new donors that align with the existing donor base. Then, charities should use 3rd party research to identify who their new donors likely are. Based on that determination, a new CX flow should be created to accommodate expectations for that audience. This could be a simple tweak of existing creative assets and site content, or a need to more broadly create new experiences.”

 

Helping nonprofits and charitable organizations expand their reach and deliver their mission to more audiences is something we’re so incredibly proud of and passionate about. We hope to use these new findings to continue that pursuit and drive more unstoppable growth, change, and impact.

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News Strategy This Week in CX

This Week in CX: Sephora Plans For a CX Makeover, General Motors Unveils Rebrand & More

Four words have been on repeat throughout our virtual office as of late – reband, redesign, rinse and repeat.

 

If you didn’t notice, Tallwave executed a total 360 rebrand in 2020 (what else was there to do when we were all hunkered down in our homes?!), so naturally, that’s been on the mind. And it appears some major legacy companies are changing their brand and visual messaging, as well.

 

Redesign is continuing to be a top priority for companies – big and small – in 2021. As the world changes and the new normal settles in, all businesses are being called to evaluate their customer journey, improve and iterate. And that’s no small feat. It takes alignment across all teams including research, design, content, development, marketing, branding and People & Culture to work towards a common goal and ultimately pull off a successful customer experience redesign. It’s a lot of work… we would know.

 

And lastly, rinse and repeat, or, as we often say, never set and forget. Now, these words don’t necessarily pertain to the stories we’re sharing today, but they’re crucial for any companies carrying out rebrands and redesigns to plaster on their walls. Why? Because even though both business milestones – rebrands and redesigns – require extremely heavy lifts, the job isn’t done once the final products and plans are announced and unveiled. Communities, customers, and cultural climates are changing faster than ever before, and with evolution comes new technologies, expectations and demands for businesses to do and be more.

 

So, cheers to the companies putting in the good work to serve their customers – employees and consumers – first. Celebrations are certainly in order. But once the dust settles, it’s time to go back to the beginning and measure, evaluate and continue to build.

 

With that said, here are 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.

 

Sephora: Your Scheduled Appointment For a Customer Experience Makeover Is Confirmed

 

Big kudos are in store for Sephora! On the heels of releasing “The Racial Bias in Retail Study,” the major beauty retailer announced plans to address and resolve racism, discrimination and other unfair treatment throughout their customer experience.

"Racial bias and unfair treatment exists at all phases of the shopping journey, even before a shopper walks into a store."

“It operates on multiple levels across the consumer journey,” Cassi Pittman Claytor, one of two academic partners who collaborated with Sephora to conduct the study, says in the report. “From the very start when people even think about things that they want to buy, to actually making a purchase, using a good — every step along the consumer journey, retail bias, racism is evident.”

 

The statistics in the report are pretty bleak, but if viewed through a different lens, they also uncover major opportunities for all retailers to make change. According to the study:

  • Three in five retail shoppers have experience discriminatory treatment
  • Two in five shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin color
  • Three in five employees have witnessed bias at their place of work
  • Three in four retail shoppers feel that marketing fails to showcase a diverse range of skin tones, body types and hair textures
  • Four in five retail shoppers don’t believe there is a representation in brands or companies that are made by and made for people of color

To put actions behind their survey and words, Sephora revealed their D&I action plans to cultivate a sense of belonging for all consumers, regardless of race, skin color or shape, and they hope other retailers will do the same. The plans include new production guidelines designed to increase diversity in all marketing materials; improved in-store processes and mandates for greeting customers and gathering monthly D&I feedback; and more inclusive talent and employee recruiting, mentoring and training programs related to unconscious bias. Progress made across all sectors of their customer journey will be shared publicly on a bi-annual basis on a dedicated section of the company’s website.

It’s this full-picture approach that’s going to make the biggest impact.

 

“As companies take an introspective look at how well they’re serving the full diversity of their customer bases,” says Jessica Pumo, Tallwave’s Vice President of Marketing, “the most effective strategies for addressing racial bias will be those that consider the customer experience holistically across the entire customer journey and how well that experience meets the needs of all customer personas at every touch point.”

 

While strong representation in marketing, in-store staffing, and product assortment are key for creating an inclusive customer experience, Jessica says the employee experience is also paramount.

 

“Employees are the key drivers of customer experience. Sephora’s efforts to not just train employees on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias, but to create an employee experience that delivers on the emotional outcomes they want to create for their customers should help them set the stage for authentic, lasting change.”

 

Also read: How to Craft Employees Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences

Even the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) Is Evaluating Their Customer Experience

Get ready to put “new vehicle registration tags” on your next grocery store list. The MVD is expanding its efforts to improve their current services because, well, frankly – and I think everyone would agree – the experience stinks.

 

“DMV’s have so much opportunity to improve customer experience,” says Tallwave’s Senior Digital Intel Strategist Brooke Weidenbaker. “You would be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys going to the DMV.”

 

Luckily, individual states are aware of their CX problem and looking for ways to improve. Just this past week, New Mexico started testing self-service vehicle registration kiosks at the popular chain grocery store Albertsons. To speed up the registration renewal process and print new tags right on the spot, shoppers can visit voice-enabled kiosks before or after picking up their weekly supply of eggs and milk.

"The kiosks will be able to collect data that otherwise might not be available at the in-person locations."

“We’re excited about being able to offer a convenient way for MVD customers to take care of business with us. Whether it’s online, over the phone, in person or now through these new self-service kiosks, we are committed to finding the best ways to serve everyone,” Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke said in a recent news release.

 

These new self-service registration kiosks New Mexico is trying out are an excellent start.

 

“Not only in providing consumers another option but also from a data perspective,” Brooke further explains. “The kiosks will be able to collect data that otherwise might not be available at the in-person locations. This is a great step in the right direction that will hopefully kickstart more improvements to the MVD experience across the country.”

 

Well, if nothing else, I know one thing: I’m buying an electric car next so at the very least, I don’t have to deal with emissions and the MVD. Which, speaking of emissions, brings us to our next story…

 

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

Kia and General Motors Unveil Rebrands For a Cleaner Future

New year, new me isn’t just for individuals – it’s for entire organizations, as well. Kia and General Motors both announced huge rebrands this past week, introducing updated visual logos and identities.

Kia's new logo 2021

“We designed the [new] logo around two basic principles. The first is symmetry that symbolizes a sort of stability and confidence that we have towards the future,” explained Karim Habib, Head of Kia’s Global Design. “The second principle is the rising gesture that you see on the K and on the A, meant to symbolize a rise in what we want to achieve with the brand and what we provide in terms of the brand experience to our customers in the future.”

 

General Motors also unveiled its modern-twist on their original logo that hasn’t substantially changed since 1964 – the change is meant to visually communicate its shift towards focusing on zero-emission vehicles.

GM's new logo 2021

As seen in the image above, the custom-designed font is now all lowercase with the ‘M’ featuring arches that symbolize the prongs of an electric plug. The more vibrant color is meant to represent their hope for bluer, cleaner skies.

 

“A logo is the customer’s front door to the brand,” says our Art Director Sean Tucker. “It is usually the most visible component and it represents the brand at the highest level. A great or compelling logo can make an impactful first impression – a chance to put a stake in the ground and say ‘this is what we stand for.’”

 

But Kia and General Motors did more than just rebrand their visual logos. They also evolved their overall messaging.

 

“The new Kia is undergoing a full transformation to deliver meaningful experiences, products, technologies, and design that are all focused on you – our customers,” explained Karim Habib. “From now on, every time you encounter a new element of the Kia brand, we want you to be inspired.”

 

That’s quite fitting given Kia’s other major brand messaging changes, swapping the “Power to Surprise” tagline for “Movement that Inspires” and dropping “Motors” from its corporate name to reflect a future in which they offer sustainable mobility solutions for everyone around the world.

 

Meanwhile, General Motors is also fighting for a zero-emissions future. “There are moments in history when everything changes,” GM’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said. “We believe such a point is upon us for the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Unlike ever before, we have the solutions, capability, technology and scale to put everyone in an EV. Our new brand identity and campaign are designed to reflect this.”

"Sure, we need to teach customers about our product and hopefully convince them to buy it, but the real magic happens when we make them feel something."

When carrying out a rebrand, companies must first start at the core – the heart – of the company and identify what they believe and value most.

 

“A brand is so much more than just its logo,” adds our Art Director Sean Tucker. “It is critical that the brand is built with thoughtful messaging and communications. Sure, we need to teach customers about our product and hopefully convince them to buy it, but the real magic happens when we make them feel something. The most successful brands have built lifestyles around their products that their customers truly believe in. Nike isn’t Nike because of their (kind of awkward) logo. Nike is a dedication to being faster, stronger, and better. Millions of people put a little Apple sticker on their car when they got their first iPhone, but that’s not because it’s a really great illustration of a fruit. It’s a badge of honor, it says ‘I believe in this.’”

 

While consumers have varying opinions on the new visual logos, most agree that Kia and GM’s commitments to creating a healthier, more sustainable world is what matters most.

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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.

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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
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.