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Digital Retail Trends That Stood Out At Shop.org Summit & DIG Day

For brands, the world of digital marketing presents a plethora of opportunities to connect and engage with consumers in more relevant and meaningful ways. Whether you’re a marketer on the client side, or optimization expert on the agency side, it’s all about providing consumers with the best possible customer experience. That’s why some of our US team members, including myself, headed over to the Shop.org Summit in Chicago.

It must have been my lucky week, because in addition to two and a half days of digital learning at Shop.org, I had the opportunity to attend the DIG Day event in Atlanta, hosted by Engauge and Moxie Interactive. Here are a few of the big ideas in digital marketing and retail that stood out.

Contagious Content has Marketing Power

The Shop.org Summit programming team clearly knew just how important it was to get attendees buzzing on the first day. And buzzing is exactly what attendees did during and after one of the morning keynotes – Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Jonah Berger, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Wharton Business School, delivered a session that resonated with every single brand and marketer in attendance.

In an age where Facebook, Twitter and Instagram rule consumers’ lives, Berger pointed to the importance of stories, not social media per se, as the most important currency of communication. He urged attendees, “Don’t just think about technology; understand the psychology of why your customers say and do things.” Just in case attendees thought of Berger’s message as nothing more than lip service, he backed it up with strong statistics. 7 percent of all word of mouth is online and referred customers have 13 percent higher lifetime values.

As he distilled the art of crafting contagious content into 6 steps – social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value and stories – he presented one of the most poignant examples of contagious content I have ever seen. For a less well-known CPG brand called Arab Dairy, looking to market its Panda Cheese products to consumers in the Middle East, story telling formed the crux of its TV marketing campaign. And it had the entire audience at Shop.org rolling over in hysterical laughter. Could you ask for a better example of a brand using the story and word of mouth to drive engagement?

Customer Centricity Prevails in the Digital World

At both Shop.org and DIG Day, the term ‘customer centricity’ was used in abundance by panelists on stage, attendees in the networking hall, during casual lunch conversations and everywhere in between. For luxury retail brand, Tory Burch, customer centricity isn’t just a term used in marketing presentations and meetings. As told by the brand’s CMO, Miki Berardelli, “we look at every channel within the engagement funnel as an opportunity to fuel our customers’ passion.” In fact, Tory Burch executives highlighted the currently popular trend of consumers buying products online, but picking up their actual purchased items in-store. This is an experience Tory Burch knew (thanks to data) that their customers wanted, but the business still had some work to do around strategy and planning to connect the in-store and online channels seamlessly. Nevertheless, they decided tactics such as “incentivizing retail associates” could wait until after they initially launched their buy online/pick up in-store program. Why, you might ask? For Tory Burch, “when the customer wins, the brand wins.”

I also had the opportunity to speak on a panel at DIG Day – The Evolution of Retail – alongside senior executives from PayPal and Sparkfly. Coming out of this session, it’s more clear than ever that one of the greatest opportunities in digital marketing today lies in intelligent personalization of content, messages and offers to cater to the specific digital behavior and needs of each customer profile/segment.

Digital Engagement Crosses Age Barriers

There’s a common assumption among consumers and brands alike that digital engagement is most prevalent among the millennial generation. But that’s not the case for every brand. According to Gregory Wasson, President and CEO of Walgreens, the median age of Walgreens customers who engage with the brand via mobile (sites & app) is 45 years old, whereas the median age for online consumers is of 52. While 40% of Walgreens’ digital traffic comes from smartphones and 10% comes from tablets, it was astounding to hear that 50% of those consumers using the Walgreens smartphone app are engaging with it while in-store. That just reiterates how blurred the lines have become between offline and online/mobile. Brands that approach online or mobile marketing as one-off projects will miss the mark in creating a customer-focused experience.

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