Posts categorized ‘Branding’

How to Enable Online Consumers to Immerse Themselves in Your Brand

The most memorable and engaging online shopping experiences deliver more than just a simple listing of products. They provide a complete a complete, cross-platform system of content and context to create a compelling story about how those products look or how they can be used in the real world.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to get consumers to immerse themselves in your brand.

Getting Social

Brands go to great lengths to give the same experience to consumers whether in store or browsing through a lookbook online. They give consumers options to share product information through various social media channels and make certain offers available (both in store or online), which enables consumers to feel as though they are a part of your brand.

PartyLite - social

Zmags makes it easy to add social share buttons to your online publications, and even to your product windows so you can give your users the ability to share specific products with their friends and followers.

Bonus Tip: Offer a discount if a purchase is made through your online publication for those consumers who share your publication. 

Getting Visual

The more senses you engage, the greater the chances are that your consumers will purchase a product or products. For example, captivating videos can add a level of engagement and excitement to the shopping experience. Allowing users to see the products in use can really give them the ability to visualize themselves using your brand.

mobile video

Adding video to an online lookbook is quite simple and can add a unique element of engagement within your brand. Longer engagement times in store, on your website and in your online publications increase the chance for purchase or the chance for more purchases.

Bonus Tip: Keep your videos to 30-45 seconds in length, at most. ‘Vine’ style videos (6 seconds on average) are also effective in an online publication setting as well. 

Getting Out

This might sound as if I am contradicting myself given what I have been speaking about so far in this post, but give your users a chance to get out…and by get out, I mean checkout. A seamless check-out process in which consumers don’t have to leave the platform or device they are shopping from to complete their order will delight the customer, as well as increase your rate of completed transactions.

PartyLite - checkout

If you’re users are on a tablet or mobile phone, chances are the publication is taking up the entire screen which means checking out requires an additional step in the process. By adding a checkout button to your publication, you can eliminate that extra step that could be the difference between completing the process and leaving the items in the cart believe it or not. Give your users the chance to get out, and they will most likely look to get back in sooner rather than later.

Bonus Tip: Having the option to continue shopping or check out while your users are in your publication is another great way to give them the options they are looking for. 

Collectively, these features will enable you to deliver a rich, immersive brand experience that is consistent across all digital touchpoints, and give that experience more of a ‘scene’ as opposed to a ‘screen’ feel. How are you enabling your consumers to immerse themselves in your brand?

Mobile Web or Mobile App for my Customers? Or Both?

When evaluating your mobile strategy, the options can overwhelm. What should I be offering my users? How should they be interacting with us on different devices? Do I need to be in the app store?

Once the initial panic slows down, it’s easier to focus on a few key points. Most importantly – a lot like the chicken and egg the egg conundrum – what comes first? The web-based solution or the app?

mobile version


FUN FACT: A lot of other digital solutions like Zmags, social platforms and email offerings are already Omni-channel optimized and a lot of them even have app options. This can aid in expanding your brand without doing a full technical overhaul.

It’s important to understand the purpose of an app versus web-based solution and how they fit into your digital strategy. Some companies find they only need one or the other, while some brands become heavily dependent on both.

Why Web-Based?

With mobile on the rise, the need for optimization is continuously growing. There are many reasons to make sure your website is prepared for visits from any type of device. Some benefits of web-based optimization are:

  • Consistent branding across all platforms - Regardless of device, your brand is represented the same way.
  • Less commitment - A user doesn’t have to download an app onto their device to interact with your brand.
  • Website behavior is now inherent - Browsing is second nature and understood, so there is no confusion on what the user should be doing when they arrive at your site.
  • Price - This solution tends to be less expensive and easy to get up and running if it’s your first step into the mobile channel.

The web-based offering tends to be the first choice when branching into this space since its really just an extension from your current website and branding. A user understands when they arrive at your site that it’s the same as if they were on a computer.

Why an App?

When apps first came to fruition they were said to be the future for all mobile. Although they have definitely dominated at times, they serve a slightly different purpose when reaching customers. Some benefits of the app are:

  • Native Build - That means in an app environment the experience can be more custom and complex since its not dealing with the constraints of a mobile browser.
  • Offline Capabilities - Content can be cached and viewed when a device does not have an Internet connection.
  • Better Performance - Apps are just inherently faster, better functioning platforms since they are driven from the operating system of the device.
  • Customer Engagement - You can reserve an app for special promotions, engagement or features to those who have downloaded it. This shows extra appreciation to the brand loyalists invested enough in your offering.
  • Revenue Model - An app can cost money. Content inside the app has the option to only be viewable to those who pay to download it.

People who download an app tend to be more loyal to a brand. If they have taken the time to look it up in the app store and install it onto their device, then they are most likely going to interact on a regular basis as well as convert.  Having an app available for users like this ensures that they are getting the optimal experience every time they visit.

So What’s Best for Me?

It’s safe to say that in today’s society a brand’s website MUST be optimized for all devices. However, recent studies have shown that 85% of consumers tend to favor apps over mobile websites when interacting on a tablet or smartphone. Therefore, as broad as “digital offerings” can be it’s clear that for most people, offering both a web-based option and an app offers the best level of exposure.

Merchandising via Digital Catalogs: Your Online Storefront

Online merchandising is a less-talked about part of ecommerce that, in theory, should achieve a similar goal as its in-store conterpart:  to “display products in such a way that stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase”.

traditional site

However, the layouts of most traditional ecommerce websites look more like image libraries (organized by item type, size, gender, etc.), rather than well-thought out displays or showcases!   Despite good intentions, even website features such as  “You may also like”, “Recommended for you” and “Related products” just don’t have the same effect as in-store merchandising — where products often pack more punch in combinations than each would individually.

Why are websites so far behind?

And how can online catalogs help?   By enabling the creation of orchestrated e-commerce experiences.

In other words, if done well, online merchandising within digital catalogs blends tactics from both traditional offline and online sales channels — bridging the gap between stark websites and creative brick&mortar window displays.  While print catalogs allow for the same kind of curation, they don’t give you back the same kind of data to learn from!   Digital versions can be rearranged and segmented based on analyses of user behavior within the catalog, such as which pages are attracting the most attention, which products are clicked on most, etc.

Some ways to make the most of your digital storefront:

-Start with traditional merchandising tactics:  Product groups or displays used in stores can provide the basis for website layouts, before in-catalog web analytics comes into play.

-Experiment with creative combinations:  Look at recent sales data.  Which types of items are people often buying together?  How can you encourage them to purchase additional items?  One great example, below, from The Container Store, places shoe storage containers alongside mothballs and air fresheners.

Container Store Merchandising

-See what’s attracting attention:  Heat maps (or in-page analytics) show what your site visitors are clicking on most; shopping cart funnel data reveals which items are carted but for some reason not checked out.

-Look at other key performance metrics for your digital content:   Analyzing what works and what doesn’t work over time (test, adjust, retest!) can  paint a clearer picture of how to combine your online content and merchandise for optimal performance.

-Vary merchandise combinations by segment, such as website entry point:   Where a visitor came from can help predict what they’re looking for.  Product images or combinations shown could be served up differently for users who come from social networks vs. search engines vs. particular referral links (etc.).

The results will be better sales, higher conversion rates, and better engagement metrics for your catalog.  (Recently, a kids’ toys and apparel brand saw an increase of over 300% more dollar spent, and 250% more items carted, when they featured related items on the same online catalog pages!)

Replicating the Actual Experience on Screen Through Digital Catalogs

The success of many enterprises depends on their ability to sell an experience rather than the actual product. This can be done through digital catalogs. In many cases, the actual product would be standard and undifferentiated among the many providers, and businesses would have to compete on providing their customers with a better experience.

Country Walker's online catalog by ZmagsDigital catalogs provide a good way to offer an interactive and engaging experience. Overlaying the dynamism provided by the catalog atop the functionality and the rich media of emerging digital touch points such as the tablets brings to life the content on offer, and is a marked improvement from the experience offered by other channels such as the print catalog, a bland PDF page or even the conventional browser based website.

Country Walkers, an adventure travel company offering itineraries around the world, is a case in point. The success of this company’s online marketing efforts depends on its ability to sell the “experiences” such as guided walking, safaris, biking tours and others rather than the basic tour products such as flights and hotel that anyone can match.

Country Walker’s online catalog, powered by Zmags Professional, engages adventure seekers who search for trips online with invigorating photography, videos, sights and sounds featuring activities, scenery, on-site interviews, cuisine and more, offering a near replica of the actual experience.

The underlying analytics provides rich insights on consumer behavior and trends, allowing the company to fine-tune their strategy. Analytics reveal that visitors to the catalog spend more time and have lower bounce rates compared to the company’s website.

Digital catalogs allow marketers to mesmerize the viewers by transforming a replica of the actual experience to the screen. This however is not the end of the marketer’s job. The marketer also has to ensure that the consumers have easy and seamless access to such content. The ZMags Professional powered Country Walkers catalog, for instance, is embedded into the brand page on Facebook, allowing the brand’s Facebook fans easy and convenient access without having to leave Facebook.

Overall, they’re doing a great job of creating a consistent experience for their customer through digital catalogs.

Enhancing the Brand Experience Through Online Magazines

Many brands understand the importance of digital presence and invest much effort in their online magazines. However, such efforts do not yield any perceptible results to either the bottom line or the brand image without a sizable readership base. To attract people to their digital magazine, merely replicating the print version of the magazine into a digital format and providing some hyperlinks are not enough.

Audi Denmark digital catalogToday’s customers are more demanding and seek to make informed decisions. They not only look out for an enhanced digital experience that would make their quest easy and seamless, but also require high level of access and in-depth information.

To provide a positive experience that would attract new consumers and make existing consumers come back, brands need to bring to life the imagery and editorial content of the digital magazine. One way to do so is by making the online magazine interactive and dialogue based. Most online buyers in today’s digital age consider the one-way monologues that characterize the traditional print magazines as drab and a drag on their efforts to seek relevant knowledge fast.

Seamless accessibility of the content across multiple touch points such as iPad and smart phones is a basic requirement. Brands need to go further and ensure easy accessibility and seamless integration with popular channels, especially social media channels such as Facebook, as well.

At the back end, the brand needs to power the online magazine with a powerful analytics engine that would allow them to monitor results and make tweaks based on what viewers prefer in real time.

Today’s consumers are fickle and spoilt for choice. If they do not get the experience they seek for, they waste no time in moving elsewhere. The challenge for the brand is to anticipate what consumers want and provide it upfront, or failing that make amends in double quick time before the consumer gets around to trying someone else.

Audi Denmark applied all of these to good effect using Zmags Professional. Audi launched a new refurbished magazine in November 2010 and embedded the same into Facebook, to provide consumers with an interactive and attractive brand experience through a medium to which they are anyway using. By November 2011, the magazine increased its viewership by a whopping 1500 percent, with three out of every four views coming from Facebook.

How can an online magazine help your brand?

The Need to Sync Content Across Multiple Devices

In today’s multi-touch point world, the content matters more than the device. People no longer use specific devices to access specific content, but use multiple devices. For instance, they may watch a video or browse a website through the desktop, the tablet or the smart phone. In this scenario, only the content that remains resilient enough to adapt to the multi-touch point world stand a chance of widespread acceptance.

syncing data across multiple devicesOliver & Ohlbaum (O&O)’s annual survey on media consumption trends corroborates this view. The survey reveals that almost half (48%) of all tablet users use the device to watch TV. The corresponding figure last year was 33%.

A bulk of the multi-screen viewership for television is for content strongly linked to apps. 12% of the survey respondents actively use companion apps when watching TV through tablets, and 65% of those who did so felt that it as an engaging way to add value to the TV viewing experience.

However, popular demand is for  free catch-up services rather than subscriber video-on-demand services (SVoD). The former is growing at a rapid pace whereas the growth of the latter has flattened out. The survey also reveals that the three most popular video channels viewed in tablet are BBC’s iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD in that order. YouTube takes the fourth place.

For marketers and content creators, success depends on not just optimizing the various inherent features of the device to provide a truly immersive and enchanting experience, but also on syncing content across various devices to provide consmers with a consistent and integrated experience.

How Digital Catalogs Contribute to a Positive Brand Image

Brand image matters. Very often, it is the brand image, or the positive perception associated with the brand, that makes customers prefer it to competitor products.

This image or positive perception depends on not just the inherent quality of the product, but also on how the products are showcased to consumers.

Brands invest in high-end photography, glossy papers and high quality prints to position the products in the best possible manner through print catalogs. Digital catalogs allow such brands to replicate the success of print catalogs to the digital media at a fraction of the cost, and even expand on the strengths. However, mere replication of the print catalog rarely works.

To maintain (or increase) a positive brand image, the digital catalog needs to deliver an optimized yet consistent experience across multiple touch points, including tablets, smart phones and tablets.

Digital catalogs needs to highlight the product as close as possible to its natural form, with multiple views of the product, ability to zoom and do more, exploiting all other inherent features of the device. It needs to offer an immersive shopping experience that deepens the experience.

The digital catalog also needs to fuel purchasing at the spur of the moment. Integrating the shopping cart with the catalog allows the overawed consumer to buy the product without having to leave the catalog. Encouraging social sharing across Facebook, Twitter, PinInterest and other channels helps to spread the catalog across people with similar tastes.

An example of a brand that has applied all these is Brahmin. Brahmin, which takes its brand image seriously, features exclusive handbags that are both stylishly beautiful and functional. The new catalog powered by Zmags Commerce Pro and the new Verge experience has successfully transferred the positive brand image from the print catalog to the digital catalog.

How can you use digital catalogs to create a positive brand image?

Traits of Successful Digital Content

The fierce competition among brands means that marketers have to roll out innovative ways to attract and retain customers. A crucial task in this regard is developing digital content that provides an intuitive, rich and engaging experience.

The focus of successful digital content is a neat design. The two essential considerations when doing so include providing a highly interactive experience, and ensuring they provide a consistent experience no matter what digital point he consumer chooses to access the content.

In today’s multiple digital touch point environment, the marketers’ job is not done when he weaves an attractive story to entice the consumer to click on the provided interactive elements such as buttons, navigation panels, forms or other call to action elements, or even by making such call to action elements attractive. The CTA depends largely on how easy the customers can access such elements using their device of choice.

traits of a good digital catalog

For instance, a keyboard-heavy interactive experience would fail to impress the tablet consumers. Rather, a tab button, accessible easily by either a tap or a mouse click would suit all devices.
With consistency a key requirement of success, it is imperative to design in such a way that the consumer has the same commerce experience when accessing the content through the Web browser, smart phone, tablet, Facebook, or any other medium.

Marketers would do well to tap into Zmags vast experience gained by developing over one million digital brochures, catalogs and magazines to design digital content that works.

Tablets and Smart Phones Boost Digital News Consumption

The emergence of digital news may result in the death knell for the print news industry. With customers transitioning their loyalty to the digital media, traditional news media is suffering from loss of circulation and consequently ad dollars.

Business news at digital tabletNow a churn is happening within the digital media. Older generation digital devices, such as television, are feeling the heat from newer and more nimble entrants such as the tablets and the smart phone. These new devices leverage the power of the Internet to deliver instant and customized news to consumers, drawing away the consumer’s attention from the stale and generic news content offered by television channels.

The television retained its dominance as the most popular source for news during the desktop era. Even though web browsers delivered real time and customized news to desktops and laptops, the migration from television to the news websites accessed through desktops and laptops was at a steady and gradual pace, primarily owing to the limitations of accessibility and connectivity. However, the emergence of even more flexible and portable devices such as the smart phone and tablets, the development of Internet technology such as wi-fi connectivity and the popularity of news apps that increases convenience multifold has accelerated the pace of migration.

A June 2012 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press place digital mediums just 16 percentage points behind TV as the primary source for news content, among US consumers.

A September 2012 study survey by Mojiva, a mobile ad network, reveals that smart phone and tablet owners still use the laptop, followed by television as their primary source of news, but indications are that this would change shortly.

In fact, television still holding its ground may be due to demographics. The Pew survey reveals that three-quarters of US news consumers ages 65 and older watched news on TV. In contrast, the percentage of respondents in the age group of 18- to 29-year-olds who watched news on television was just over one-third, and this group has actually dropped TV news consumption by 15 percentage points between 2006 and 2012.

Digital news is taking over – what have you noticed about your content consumption habits?

Digital Journals Offer a Positive Content Experience

Digital journals allow readers to consume content in a much better way than any other delivery medium and nothing exemplifies this more than CVS Caremark Insights 2012, the newest digital publication from the pharmaceutical major CVS Caremarks.

CVS Caremark Digital JournalDissemination of information required either printing a journal or publishing an e-book/website. All these methods have their limitations. The CVS Caremark Insights 2012 publication, developed by Zmags, true to any digital publication, not only combines the best of the print and digital medium, but also delivers several new possibilities that allow the reader to consume the content in the best and most convenient manner.

To a detached observer, the digital journal is a replica of the print journal that gels well with the tablet. The various standard features of the digital journal—such as a vertical scroll bar that functions as a preview-based menu and allows proceeding directly to a page; the ability to email, print, share or download as PDF any particular page of the journal—provide user-friendly options to make navigation and content consumption an enjoyable experience in itself. Among the new functionalities featured in this journal is the option to crop any part of the page and download or email it.

Other enhanced possibilities include clicking on the reference note, which leads directly to the list of references and from there to the external link of the reference, allowing the journal reader to seamlessly pursue the topic of interest with ease.

Needless to say, the video and flash elements add life to the otherwise dry information, keeping the customers connected and visually engaged.