​RedBalloon shares its marketing evolution strategy

Head of marketing at the gift ideas and experiences site reveals what it takes to take a marketing strategy from operational to experiential

Building a great customer experience is about understanding the customer first, then figuring out the digital and technology needed to make things faster, simpler and easier for them, RedBalloon’s head of marketing, Bonnie Thorn, claims.

“I like to quote Steve Jobs in saying you have to start with customer experience, then work back towards technology,” Thorn told attendees during a presentation at CeBIT’s 2016 Digital Marketing conference in Sydney.

“According to a recent McKinsey report, maximising customer satisfaction of customer journeys has the potential to increase customer satisfaction by 20 per cent and lift revenue by about 15 per cent. Meanwhile the average conversion rate is 2.6 per cent, the top 20 per cent of companies have conversion rates greater than 4.5 per cent.”

Thorn stressed customer engagement not only needs great visual content, connectivity and creativity, it also needs to be organic and authentic.

“A recent report released by BrightEdge Channel Research found organic search is actually the best way to attract and engage customers at 82 per cent, compared to click ads, at 17 per cent,” she said. “Authenticity is key, so you need to ensure your content isn’t too ‘salesy’ – and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it.”

In order to leverage content to boost engagement, Thorn said RedBalloon undertakes a four-step process:

  1. Identify demand: This includes looking at trending topics or seasonal events like Mother’s Day.
  2. Monitor the competition: To see how it ranks compared to its competition, RedBalloon looks at what content, offers and deals are being creating and social channels used.
  3. Create content that is authentic and relevant: This is then shared across appropriate social channels.
  4. Measuring the results: RedBalloon uses tools such as Google Analytics in order to determine business impact.

“With Mother’s Day, our campaign starts three weeks prior to the event, but we actually generate a lot of content two to three weeks before the campaign to see what works,” Thorn said by way of an example. “This way, we can do a better integrated marketing campaign.”

Thorn also highlighted the importance of respecting the customer experience while building a connection. And that means cross-functional alignment.

“As marketers, we’re no longer selling products, we’re selling personalised experiences,” she said. “Technology enables us to get more personalised and agile, so it’s important internally to have a great relationship between marketing and IT.”

For RedBalloon, the personalisation journey contains four key elements:

  1. Audit: Understand your landscape and infrastructure
  2. Educate: Educate the business with your direction and benefits
  3. Test and learn: Take small steps to test and optimise
  4. Scale and automate: Across different sales, devices and channels

“You need to ask whether your digital ecosystem is set up for personalisation,” Thorn said. “This also means looking at consumer-facing elements like your app, website, social and email platforms.”

Data is essentially how brands are going to get there, making data collection key to unlocking a more personalised experience, Thorn continued. This means evaluating your data collection and systems, and looking at your first, second and third-party data.

“On our website we use DTM, which is our tagging manager, our analytics and DMP,” she explained. “We use audience manager from Adobe, which is really a robust engine that enables us to do a lot of personalisation. You can integrate all your systems into your DMP, tag your site and assets, and the analytics measures it. So if you are a marketer and you don’t know how to do this, you won’t know personalisation.”

With the rapid changes occurring in the digital landscape, Thorn said the pressure is on marketers to keep content more relevant.

“Paid search and advertising is really expensive, so you want to make sure you’re always targeting the right customers and serving the right content and material,” she added. “In order to do this, we work closely with IT and build a lot of our strategies together moving forward. This way the right people within the business also go on the journey with you.”

Related: How leadership impacts customer experience: RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson

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