So you’ve given everyone the warm and fuzzies with that heart-warming TV ad, awesome... Now what?
Tis’ the season for the sappy Christmas ad, and ever since John Lewis set the precedent for quaint sentimentality back in 2007, brands have been practically locked in an emotional dance-off. Marketing budgets are blown in the quest for creative repute, and everywhere you look bonafide masterpieces light up our screens. But once they’ve successfully given everyone those festive fuzzies, where do brands go from there?
In many cases, not far. Once the Christmas fairy-tale bubble pops, customers are crash-landed into a lacklustre brick-and-mortar store, festooned with seasonal promotions and laden with tat; unable to find anything they actually went in for. Or worse still, back into their living rooms, where they’re hurling expletives at customer support. A stark reality prevails, think less holiday spirit, and more bad Christmas hangover.
They say that at least seven touch-points come into play before every sale. Seven opportunities to inspire awe and add value. So why just stick to one? Multi-channel shopping experiences utilise a variety of channels (an event, social campaign, email etc) to reach their customers. Effective multi-channel strategies aim for these to be united, integrated and consistent – or omni-channel. The key, according to a report by SAP, is knowing how to apply data gleaned from consumer interactions to improve the consumer experience. So where to begin?
A truly effective omni-channel Christmas strategy should have an all-encompassing, proposition at its heart. Even if seeking to pull at heartstrings, it should stay true to the core objective. Yet with the prevailing trend to wax emotional, some brands create tear-jerkers for tears’ sake, leaving audiences profoundly moved but utterly unclear about what was on sale. To combat this, brands must think long-term; marrying the narrative to the proposition and extending it. Coca Cola have this nailed; they take their festive narrative online by encouraging customers to Tweet selfies alongside the iconic Christmas truck. A well placed social call-to-action like this can signal the difference between a customer continuing on their merry omni-channel way, or halting at the proverbial water cooler.
Add value, and then some
In planning that omni-channel strategy, brands should extend their value at every touchpoint. Rather than offering one holy grail of emotional reward, shoppers must feel valued every step of the way. The obvious champion of this approach is Apple, whose multichannel strategy unifies the customer experience across platforms, from their packaging right through to the order process. Their stores are experience, not feature led, and customers feel part of something greater than the sum of their purchase. Some other stellar examples are the Body Shop, with their added value offerings of free makeovers and samples, and Starbucks’ smart, app-driven reward programme.
Upgrade to a slicker, more responsive, store
It’s crazy how many brands will fork out millions for faster, snazzier websites to streamline the customer experience. Yet when it comes to their brick-and-mortars, they’ve barely evolved beyond the musty shelves of yore. So all that pizzazz they’ve worked to establish online is lost the moment the customer ventures inside. For some inspiration in leveraging the potential of technology in store, look no further than Adidas, whose interactive virtual footwear wall incorporated responsive technology into the store experience – boosting their sales by 40%. Another great example, Oasis blurred the lines between the digital and physical channels by arming their sales assistants with iPads loaded with live stock information. Simple but effective, these solutions merge modern convenience with traditional experience, proving one need not exclude the other.
Get (or hire) creative
Of course technology alone does not a better omni-channel experience make. As with all successful strategies, a healthy dose of creative vision is essential. Reese’s quick-thinking reaction to customer complaints about the shape of their candy Christmas trees is a prime example of this. Rather than panic, they harnessed the potential of Twitter to turn the situation on its head, introducing a campaign to end tree shaming and declaring #alltreesarebeautiful.
At the other end of the scale, British Airways (literally) reached for the skies with their Magic of Flying campaign; utilising a mixture of digital and transponder technology in a jaw-dropping feat of interaction. They effectively demonstrated how far you can go with sheer creativity and modern technology (and yes, a pretty huge budget). For more moderate but equally imaginative examples of technological ingenuity, consider the National Lottery’s use of augmented reality scratchcards, and Tesco with their virtual shopping wall; installed at Gatwick airport for weary travellers to re-stock their fridges.
In conclusion – jingle all the way
Multi-channel is no longer in vogue (or ‘on fleek’ if that’s your thing). All major brands have multiple channels sporting numerous touchpoints. The platinum goose is omni-channel; or in rookie-speak, uniting all of your channels to provide an integrated, consistent shopping experience that doesn’t abandon the customer when the curtain falls. It’s easy to think the customer’s journey stops at the bottom of the campaign roller coaster, a great grin plastered across their face. But in actuality, they will now begin battling crowds and carpark queues. For really impressive results, you should be escorting them home.
Suzy Kostadinov is senior copywriter at Hugo & Cat.