Figaro Digital Summer Conference 2015 Round-up Part 1

by Jessica Ramesh

Insight and highlights from the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference

Michael Plimsoll – Industry Marketing Director, Adobe
The Third Wave of Digital Transformation 


“The experience is now the brand.”

Taking his title from futurist Alvin Toffler’s 1980 book The Third Wave, Michael Plimsoll at Adobe highlighted the importance of placing the customer journey at the centre of all digital activity and described some of the disruptive models driving digital business forward.

The poster-boys for digital’s future are businesses like Uber and Airbnb – the taxi firm that owns no taxis and the accommodation service that owns no property. These, says Michael, are businesses defined, driven and differentiated by software. “The experience is now the brand. You need a consistent, contextual, personalised experience across channels. Disruptive innovation means taking software, leveraging products and services you might not own yourself and creating a digital experience.” 

 
By way of further illustration, he points to new businesses like Instacart,Atom, WeChat, Tesla and Shyp: companies with digital encoded into their DNA. “This is an industry in transformation. Not many people have the got the consumer-cerntric journey right. We’re still working out the right way to join the dots and deliver that consumer experience. But we need to think about the future, when the software capability will define us.” 

Richard Summers – CEO, CrowdCat
Why Brands Should be Playful!

“It’s a real mistake to see the consumer as a static set of values or choices.”

Drawing on his scientific background (including a dissertation undertaken with Professor Stephen Hawking at Cambridge in the 1990s), Richard Summers at CrowdCat examined how interaction affects crowds and creates mass behaviour. “We use big data,” Richard explains, “to crunch down to five or six types of interaction that can be used to really improve conversions, click-throughs or data acquisition. Being interactive is essentially putting the user at the centre of something.”

Consumer psychology, however, is a complex business. “It’s a real mistake to see the consumer as a static set of values or choices. When you get consumers to interact with a brand and provide them with a deep experience you can learn a lot about them and affect what’s going on in the crowd.” 
 
The ‘Big Five’ personality types (sometimes called OCEAN: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism) will be familiar to most marketers. This is information that can help brands establish who they’re appealing to, and how best to reach them: does your audience respond to 50 per cent off, or will a buy-one-get-one-free offer get them reaching for their wallets? “By understanding psychological profiles we can tailor the call to action, the offers, the creative – we can really work with people.” 

For a look at Richard’s work in action, check out the video and find out how CrowdCat created a Pacman-inspired videogame for Aussie chart-toppers 5sos

Kath Hipwell – Head of Content Strategy, Red Bee
Cracking Social Video: How to Create a Great Story and Engage Your Audience

“Plan your spontaneously reactive content”

What – and indeed where – is TV in the 21st century? For kids born into the digital era, says Kath Hipwell at Red Bee, it’s no longer the box flickering away in the corner of the living room. In the future, TV will be experienced via a laptop or other device and the way that viewers engage with it will be closely tied to social media. It’s a lesson broadcasters have already had to learn and there are implications for brands as well.

Kath presented six points for brands seeking to crack social video. First, she says, know your audience and look at social data which will tell you where, when and with what sort of content they’re engaging. Be entertaining and be useful, or don’t bother. Build a compelling ‘storyworld’ – a multiplatform universe replete with backstory and characters. Give your audience a role within that experience and develop your characters. (Think Compare the Meerkat’s Aleksandr Orlov, now presiding over a media empire that includes books and toys.) 

Social media isn’t campaign led, so find ways to keep your story alive. Kath points to the Finnish teen drama Lovemilla, in which the main character Tweeted and Instagrammed between episodes. Be topical and timely, but focus on your audience’s interests, not your own. 

Much has been made recently of the notion that brands should have their own newsrooms. But, says Kath, with intelligence and foresight Twitter will serve just as well. Planned real-time messages in response to major sporting events can generate up to 400 per cent more Retweets, while brands Tweeting about unexpected topical occurrences see up to 1,200 per cent more Retweets. “Plan your spontaneously reactive content,” advises Kath. 

Lastly, play to your platform. Half of Facebook users watch videos on the platform with the sound on; the other half have it turned it off. On YouTube you have five seconds before users are able to skip an ad. That means you’ve got three seconds of storytelling time to hook users. Knowing how audiences behave on different platforms enables brands to tailor their content accordingly.

Chris Mellish – Managing Partner, Black Book London
Transforming Your Brand for Today’s Digitally-Enabled Customer

“If it’s as good as anything else, then it’s no longer good enough.”

For Chris Mellish at Black Book London, one simple but significant stat sums up consumers’ relationship with digital technology. According to CEB, 94 per cent of customers who have a low effort experience will buy from that same company again. “The age of advertising has come to an end,” he says. “We’re now in the age of experience.” 

For Black Book London, the response to that change is formulated in a neat equation: customer expectation minus the experience customers actually have with a brand equals customer satisfaction. 

But as expectation swells, it also becomes more likely that an experience will disappoint. This, for Chris, is ‘experience inflation’ and as an example he cites EasyJet. For a long time, customers were unable to reserve seats on the airlines’ flights. When the option was introduced it transformed perception of the brand. Though clearly not a dramatic innovation, incremental changes like this can have a big impact on customer satisfaction. 

“If I were to recommend three things,” says Chris, “they would be to stop for a second, forget about technology and put people – your consumers – at the heart of everything you do. They’re the ones driving changes in behaviour. Not technology. Secondly, focus on the customer experience. The experience customers have is as important as the brand. Look at the moments where you can exceed their expectations. These don’t have be massive transformations. They could be the smallest nuggets that just make purchase and processing easier.” 

Read the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference Round-up Part 2

Read the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference Round-up Part 3

Read the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference Round-up Part 4

Compiled by Jon Fortgang