The Four-Pillar Approach to Holistic Commerce Success

Discover how to deliver a consistent brand experience, connect with customers where they are, and optimize your business with an assortment of sales channels. Explore the four pillars of a successful omnichannel strategy in this article. Read to learn how your business can deliver a seamless end-to-end digital consumer journey across channels.

The Four-Pillar Approach to Holistic Commerce Success
The Four-Pillar Approach to Holistic Commerce Success

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Media and Marketing News Headlines Update on February 19, 2021

Why did it take Clubhouse this long to arrive? As Ben Thompson writes, the arrival of a voice-based social networking platform was inevitable.

As interest in voice picks up, Twitter is now testing voice DMs. The experimental feature is now running in India, Brazil, and Japan.

If you’re looking for a no-fuss, low-cost newsletter platform, check out Underline. A worthy spiritual successor to Tinyletter.

Podcasts and content marketing

Every content marketing trend prediction of the last couple of years has mentioned podcasting. While the podcast has been widely adopted for entertainment, how do you leverage this audio format for content marketing?

Ever heard of 3D audio?

It’s not always about finding the right host and story though. New advancements in audio technology mean the recording of a podcast could be its selling point. Digital broadcasters iHeart Media recently announced a big investment in binaural, or 3D audio. Essentially, 3D audio sounds like you’re in the middle of the action, you hear it like you do in real life. From a storytelling point of view, you can create something immediately immersive and engaging.

Can you say anything?

As podcasts become more popular and immersive, do brands need to worry about reputation damage? Whether advertising on a popular podcast or creating your own, how do you moderate? The short answer is you can’t, not in the way Facebook or YouTube can. Most rely on user reports for inappropriate material. Podcasting is an open ecosystem which can be very liberating for brands, but they do need to be aware of what they’re broadcasting.

When actions don’t match branding

Businesses spend years cultivating brand image, value and purpose. Building a brand takes a long time, but it can be destroyed overnight. Beyond the complicated battle between Redditors and Wall Street over GameStop stock, the overlooked loser is Robinhood. The stock trading app had positioned itself as the stock market equaliser, giving everyone trading access. This brand was destroyed the minute they appeared to side with Wall Street and block GameStop trades.

Guiding a brand through cultural changes

To be fair, Robinhood was in uncharted territory. They probably never envisaged novice traders beating Wall Street at its own game. Changes come quickly though, and brands need to adapt in ways that adhere to its cultivated image. Nike does this regularly, especially when it comes to racial issues in the US. Its famous Colin Kaepernick and recent “Don’t Do It” campaigns diverge from the usual sporting script but remain credible and align with its stated values.

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A brand’s history

Sometimes, a brand needs to look back at its history to realign with its values. What made it appeal to consumers in the first place? In its first rebrand in 20 years, fast-food chain Burger King took a look at its past. The new logo pays homage to the original, which was launched in 1969. Far from dated, the new logo is designed to work across multiple digital platforms, merging the traditional brand with today’s modern landscape.

When veteran Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz, also known as a16z, doubles down on content adding to its already impressive blog and podcast, you know things are looking good for content marketing in general.

Squarespace uses illustration and animation to trace basketballer Walter “Clyde” Frazier’s journey from slick New York playboy to tropical island farmer.

The majority of us are lazy when it comes to passwords, especially at work, so Dashline created a simple animated explainer to bring its password manager solution to life.

Payment processing solution Stripe produced a documentary about Stewart Brand and his journey from Merry Prankster to a revered technology and environmental figure.

Bob, like the rest of us, gets bogged down with all the work platforms he uses. MetaSpark’s video explainer shows how platform consolidation works.

Adobe is late to its own party, but it turned up eventually — and it’s bringing your friends. The grandmommies of design software, Photoshop and Illustrator, finally have collaborative editing. This means you can work on the same file with a bunch of collaborators — but not in real-time, so essentially you’re still having to tag-team with someone opening up your file, making changes, saving, and then syncing, which is so 2018. Of course, Figma and Sketch have been doing Google Docs-esque real-time collab for a while now, which is amazing. (Think multicoloured cursors flying around the file with collaborators’ names on them.) At least Photoshop “also supports version history, so you’ll be able to reverse course if a collaborator messes something up.”

Email used to be so simple. In this Newsletter Age, not so much. Underline is bringing simple back. It promises plain text emails, super-low pricing, and “basically just a text box and a send button.”

Netflix is building an entire animator economy in Japan. There’s the old demand and supply problem to solve: Japanese anime is a powerful engine to keep new users coming back to the Netflix machine — but there’s a shortage of animators. The solution: for Netflix to partner up with anime studios to produce new content, to support young animators financially, to partner with an animation academy to train new talent, and to feed the growing Netflix market in Japan (they added 2 million Japanese subscribers in 2020). Also, Axios just reported that Americans are consuming more foreign content than ever, “thanks in large part to streaming, the pandemic and the creator economy.” We’re all stuck at home, and we need stuff to watch, which is why Netflix just hiked your bill. Think of it as content production tax — you want it? You pay for it. Fair enough.

Have you recently embarked on freelance life? Here are a few finely-wrought tips to think about on the ride.

  1. What do you want from it? “Find out what you want and optimise for it.”
  2. Are you freelancing because you’re building something, or just because you’re escaping something? “The “pull” needs to be more important than the push.”
  3. Plan for it.
  4. Get your biz dev and finances in order. Do it.
  5. Hustle hustle hustle. This is “an important part of freelance life. Nothing will come on a platter.”
  6. Pitch for work, and make your pitch specific.
  7. Google Calendarise the heck out of your life.
  8. Pricing is complex. “Optimise for control.”
  9. Your ‘office’ is important. “Build a workspace that works for you.”
  10. Figure out your system for what projects to do, test drive it, and then stick with it.
  11. There’s no single formula. Find what works for you.

If you’re a journalist, you’re already part of the creator economy. (You’re also welcome to call it the passion economy. You do you.) This really is the golden age of media. You currently have a device on your pocket that enables you to identify audiences, research a story, fact-check and corroborate it, collaborate with people to create it, pay them for their work, write or shoot or draw or film or record or edit or illustrate or code or animate the story, publish it, distribute it, amplify it, track it, test it, iterate it, and repurpose it into any number of different formats for different audiences that want it on different platforms, formats, or devices, raise funding for it, and get paid for it. And you can do all of this mostly for free (although you should ideally pay your co-creators and yourself). And you (arguably) don’t need anybody’s permission. But there’s one more opportunity here: “Becoming a full-time creator isn’t suitable for every journalist, but an entrepreneurial mindset is necessary for all. Legacy journalism institutions are beginning to offer training to journalists pursuing the creator route, but we’re missing the greater opportunity to engage creators who are interested in producing journalistic content.” Such a solid piece.

Is journalism a service? Why isn’t it designed like one? In a service design practice, there’s a great deal of contextual fact-finding to discover how people use a product within the context of their own lives. Editors would do better to ask their audiences and users about what sources of information and entertainment they rely on, why (or whether) they rely on their newsroom product, and where the overlaps (or redundancies or opportunities) lie. “A service delivers something of value that people cannot provide for themselves.” Opportunities abound in:

  • featuring more voices that audiences already trust
  • distribution of content to audiences who need it in formats that they need it in
  • creating information products for specific institutional or B2B audiences that would find it valuable enough to pay for (like “governments, universities, philanthropies, nonprofits, and businesses”)
  • unbundling variants of the same news product in different ways for paid and free subscribers

Clubhouse might just have been inevitable. It “doesn’t simply further democratize audio publishing, but also transforms it.” The major difference between podcasts and Clubhouse is how much less friction there is in terms of discovering, creating, and listening to conversations. Similar evolutions have happened: blogging to Twitter; web publishing to Instagram; YouTube to TikTok. “This capability is enabled by the “only on the Internet” feature that makes Clubhouse transformational: the fact that it is live.”

If you haven’t noticed, a Cambrian explosion is happening in the space of voice audio catalyzed by Clubhouse. Mark Cuban is launching Fireside, a podcast app that allows hosts to talk to their fans live and monetize those conversations.

Mark Cuban is launching Fireside
Mark Cuban is launching Fireside

Facebook is working on a Clubhouse copycat.

Why is audio so hot? Everyone is sick of Zoom calls and we’re going back to what we need more of: listening. Here’s a thoughtful look at how Clubhouse is the anti-Twitter.

China, unsurprisingly, banned Clubhouse. A badge of honor for any media platform.

James Murdoch is reportedly considering starting a SPAC to acquire media companies in Asia. The ex-chief of 21st Century Fox is working with Uday Shankar, the former president of Walt Disney Asia Pacific, to raise funds.

Bloomberg Media is on track to bring in at least $100 million in consumer subscriptions this year. Much of this was driven by the launch of niche verticals around healthcare, autos, and cities.

Twitter is reportedly considering a subscription product that will hopefully reduce its dependence on advertising (and hate-fuelled engagement). One option is to turn Tweetdeck into a paid product. Hey Twitter, how’s this for value add: I’ll pay for the option to edit my tweets.

Twitter told investors that it expects a “modest impact” on ad revenue due to the privacy changes in iOS 14. Compare this to Facebook, which seemed to be painting a doomsday scenario for its earnings. Twitter’s targeting is pretty rubbish, to begin with, so what’s there to break?

Google News Showcase is rolling out to more countries, including the UK and Argentina. The service carries both free and paywalled articles, which Google says will give publishers a boost in helping more people discover their valued content.

Finding brand stories

Every successful content marketing campaign is underpinned by a strong story. These campaigns stick because humans like to tell and hear stories. How does a large organization find stories that resonate? That’s the question a client recently put to us. To find out, we undertook interviews with 50 of its execs.

Asking the right questions

Successful story mining is based on successful interviewing. What should you be asking and how do you keep the interviewee comfortable? According to Columbia University, the four principles of interviewing are preparation, establishing a rapport, asking relevant questions, and listening to the responses. Famed US journalist Larry King (RIP) kept it even simpler, he never asked questions more than two sentences long.

Creating a storytelling environment

You don’t always have to bring in outsiders to discover stories. Every employee has a story about the business they work for, but running them all through the marketing department creates a bottleneck. Social platforms, especially TikTok, give employees the opportunity to talk about what they do. The trick is to find employees who stand out and love what they do. It also requires trust from management — the best stories can’t be micromanaged.

Clubhouse — What’s it all about?

The latest social media hype is only available in beta on iOS but has already been valued at US$1 billion and downloaded 4.7 million times. The Clubhouse is a voice-only social platform that allows users to join chat rooms — based on users they follow or topics — where all discussion is in audio format and controlled by the host. Basically, it’s talking not typing.

Big names are aboard

Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Drake, Oprah Winfrey, and Ashton Kutcher are among some of the big names to have joined Clubhouse. What’s in it for regular marketers though? To a degree, it battles screen fatigue and offers users a more engaging podcast-type experience. Brands can build an engaged community — one for customers and one for business partners in different rooms — where announcements can be made and feedback received.

Is the future audio-first?

Clubhouse joins a swathe of voice-controlled smart devices replacing the cumbersome process of typing and staring at a screen. Twitter jumped on the bandwagon with the launch of Spaces, its audio-only chat room. Meanwhile, American billionaire entrepreneur, Mark Cuban, launched Fireside, a podcast app that allows live conversation. With the rise of hands-free devices, audio and social were bound to come together. But, with social platforms having trouble fact-checking what people type, how will they handle the immediacy of speech?

Is there anything a new iPhone model can’t shoot? Apple goes behind the scenes for the Chinese New Year film shot on the iPhone 12 Max Pro.

Love is love according to Singaporean business, Michael Trio Jewellery, as it shares the emotional journey of a same-sex couple. #MTastoryoflove #AStoryOfLove #LoveIsAllWeNeed

GE has utilised the talents of journalist Mikey Kay to create long-form and video content documenting the global healthcare response to COVID-19.

In an attempt to remind the world its brand still exists, Nokia asked users to record 48 hours of change in their part of the world.

Finally, just one Super Bowl ad — Amazon reimagines Alexa with actor Michael B. Jordan’s body.

Mind Your KPIs: Top Metrics Product Companies Should Be Monitoring

In today’s climate, managing the business around a few key performance indicators is make or break. With that in mind, we’ve collected a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that every product company should be monitored consistently.

Mind Your KPIs: Top Metrics Product Companies Should Be Monitoring
Mind Your KPIs: Top Metrics Product Companies Should Be Monitoring. Photo by Andreas Klassen

Read this article to learn how your business can create a solid foundation with the right KPIs. Continue reading “Mind Your KPIs: Top Metrics Product Companies Should Be Monitoring”

How to Create Customer Journey and Map with Your Brand’s Lifecycle

Who are your customers and what do they want? Learn how to build a customer journey map with this article to engage and retain customers for life.

Whether your brand uses storyboards, the design thinking process, or intuition to build out its customer lifecycle map, that process is only valuable to your marketing and sales teams. After all, no customer ever thinks to themselves that they’re in the “awareness” stage of a brand-centric journey.

How to Create Customer Journey and Map with Your Brand’s Lifecycle
How to Create Customer Journey and Map with Your Brand’s Lifecycle. Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris

In this article, we’re going to explain how you can break out of this thinking pattern and build a customer journey that engages and retains your customers for life.

Takeaways:

  • The four steps to creating a customer journey
  • The difference between a lifecycle map and a journey map
  • How to integrate the customer journey with your lifecycle map

Continue reading “How to Create Customer Journey and Map with Your Brand’s Lifecycle”

Digital Connectivity Creates Distance: Book Summary of The Power of Virtual Distance

If you feel disconnected and isolated at work, don’t just blame pandemic-induced stay-at-home orders. Over the past two decades, the widespread use of digital communication tools has been isolating workers even when sharing the same workspace.

Digital Connectivity Creates Distance: Book Summary of The Power of Virtual Distance
Digital Connectivity Creates Distance: Book Summary of The Power of Virtual Distance

Managers must work to shrink “Virtual Distance” through connection and affinity, argue Karen Sobel Lojeski and Richard R. Reilly in their book “The Power of Virtual Distance”. The authors offer practical advice on how to promote trust and nurture relationships in a world where “shooting a quick email” often seems like the most convenient and time-efficient way to communicate.
Continue reading “Digital Connectivity Creates Distance: Book Summary of The Power of Virtual Distance”

Media and Marketing News Headlines Update on February 10, 2021

Maya started as a healthcare blog in Bangladesh in 2011. They just raised $2.2 million because they decided to listen to their users better. The problem to solve? The challenges involved in finding medical care in Bangladesh, the “financial barriers, a shortage of providers and long travel times to clinics.” So the idea was for the blog to provide health info from trusted sources, but the founder Ivy Huq Russell realised her site visitors needed more. Messages about sexual abuse, rape, and domestic violence came in on WhatsApp, email, and chat that needed to be addressed better. They needed to scale their solution. Now “Maya uses natural language processing and machine learning technology for its digital assistant, which answers basic health-related questions and decides if users need to be routed to human experts. It has about 10 million unique users and currently counts more than 300 licensed healthcare providers on its platform.”

Clubhouse has plans for direct payments and creator grants. They just raised a Series B round of funding, which they will use for enhanced features and growth, but direct payments sound like it could be a winner. They’re also joining TikTok and Snapchat on the creator grant program bandwagon, which is a great way to incentivize and support people to create content and therefore new audiences. It looks like all the cool kids are on this live audio conversation platform, which, depending on your tolerance for notifications about ongoing conference calls, is proving to be an interesting alternative to varying degrees of lockdown. And it’s a whole new media product for us in the journalism biz, aka why should a story be just a story if it can also be an audio conversation?

Wirecutter has had an interesting ride. As a stand-alone subscription product, it might get wilder. The New York Times bought the consumer review site in 2016 and has so far earned growing affiliate link revenue when you buy a product they’ve reviewed. The plan now is to spin it out as a standalone subscription product. The Great Unbundling has worked well for the NYT — and for most of the news industry that thought breaking news was the only big audience magnet — with products like Cooking and Games.

This man joined Lego, and invented…the Lego bonsai tree. The tree is astonishing in how complex it is (the trunk looks vaguely steampunk), and comes in two flavours: green, and sakura (cherry blossom) style. This video is charming and also hilarious in parts. #Botanical #BonsaiTree #DesignerVideo

Data and storytelling

By using your own data, you have the ability to create stories that are not only original and memorable (your data is unique) but also personalised (the data based on your customer’s behaviours).

Why you need to get it right

A report by infographic platform Venngage found 84% of markers created data visualisations regularly. 73% of respondents said their visualisations were created for sharing on various social channels. When it came to budget for these data visualisations, 35% were spending less than USD 1,000 a year. While Venngage is pushing its graphics solution, it’s clear marketers see value in these data based stories. So why doesn’t the budget reflect this? The point is to be unique and memorable and this takes time.

Who is doing it well?

Streaming services have an obvious edge. They collect a lot of data, their products are engaging, and subscribers all have a unique journey. Spotify Wrapped is an annual tradition for subscribers as it collates everything they’ve listened to over the years and animates the results. It’s not about the data you collect. Huggies conducted 600 studies about the benefits of hugging your newborn for its No Baby Unhugged campaign, boosting sales by 30%.

Gaming and advertising

Anyone who thought eSports only attracts a fringe audience needs to think again. The viewership is expected to increase from 454 million in 2019 to 646 million in 2023 to create a market worth USD 1.5 billion. Powered by mobile, the barrier of entry for gamers and fans is quite low, meaning opportunities for marketers.

Growing mainstream interest

Publicis Groupe, a French multinational advertising and PR organisation, recently announced the launch of Publicis Play — an arm dedicated to marketing and creative within gaming and eSports. Its mission will be to guide big brands like KFC and Samsung through the gaming environment to create unobtrusive experiences for users. And that will be a bit of a mindset readjustment for some brands.

Leveraging gaming platforms

Gillette is partnering with the gaming source, Twitch. They’ve formed the Gillette Gaming Alliance, featuring five Twitch streamers creating razor inspired content. The partnership also means consumers who buy products through Gillette’s website will earn Twitch Bits, which in turn drives engagement on the Twitch. Will gaming take brand engagement to a more natural level that wasn’t possible through social?

Red Bull can make any sport feel extreme. In this fencing short, it focuses on the sport’s history, especially the 30,000 deaths which shaped its modern rules. #RedBull #RedBullOrigins #Fencing

Google Maps doesn’t just help people find businesses. In Italy, it helped this bookstore find customers during the COVID lockdown.

Nonprofit health organisation, CHI, created a singalong animation to battle type 2 diabetes, more effective than your average scare campaign.

LEGO has posted a work-life balance video on LinkedIn — we’re pretty sure part of this balance involves LEGO creations in your downtime. #worklifebalance #RebuildTheWorld

Some may already consider the Mercedes-Benz G-Class a work of art, but these Zapoteca artists have taken the vehicle to a new level. They also manage to mention a chef too. #strongerthantime #MBgclass #mercedesbenzTV

Google added more contextual information to its search results. You’ll now see a new “About this result” menu which will pull basic information from Wikipedia. Very useful in helping determine trusted sources.

Clubhouse is all the rage in China, it seems. Starved of free speech on Chinese apps, Clubhouse is one of the rare places where you get to talk about politics and democracy. (Some people are even selling invite codes!)

HubSpot reportedly acquired The Hustle, a newsletter for entrepreneurs and small business owners. The deal is valued at around $27 million. Yet another reminder of the value of niche B2B media companies.

Facebook stars in the latest episode of the blockbuster sitcom that is the newsletter platform. Apparently, they’re working on newsletter tools for indie journos and writers. I mean, Twitter bought Revue only last week. Substack is so 3 years ago. “Mr. Zuckerberg noticed the growing trend of independent journalists monetizing their work through newsletter services, and urged the team to make the project a priority.” Makes me wonder if Mr. Zuckerberg has made an offer to Substack yet.

The designer known as Traf prototyped a pretty sweet newsletter product for Notion. Traf, recently known for making bank for his minimalist icon sets for iOS 14, used Framer for his prototype. “It’d use your Notion page as the content for the email.” Not a bad idea.

Today’s newsletters come from a long line of gossip sheets. And I mean 17-century-long. If you’re a couple of guys in the 1620s and you sell annual subscriptions to your gossip sheets at £20 a pop (“about $7,000 today” per subscription), you’re not doing too badly. “Like their 17th-century precursors, these missives have the personal tone of a note from a trusted and well-informed friend. The newest business model in journalism, it turns out, is also the oldest.”

Dainik Bhaskar ran a cloth edition. The Dainik Bhaskar newspaper printed a fabric front-page wrap of its issue commemorating its 15th year run in Bhilwara, India’s fabric capital. The collectible edition runs to 204 pages.

In the latest episode of this season of Stories, Pinterest added stories. Here we go again. Everybody’s doing it. Twitter launched its own version (called Fleets) just a few months ago. Pinterest’s variant, however, has a couple of differences: they’re only for “approved businesses and creators for now”, and they aren’t ephemeral.

Google acquired AppSheet, a no-code app-builder. AppSheet has been around for eight years and integrates with Google tools like Sheets and Forms, as well as other tools from Salesforce and Box, among others. It’s “not going to replace sophisticated development environments, but they will give companies that might not otherwise have a mobile app the ability to put something decent out there.”

Google acquired AppSheet
Google acquired AppSheet