Posts categorized ‘Engagement’

Announcing The Who, Why, and How of Digital Experiences Webinar

As the Zmags blog has mentioned before, plug-ins are becoming a way of the future. Applications of all kinds are learning to play nice with everything else to ensure seamless experiences. Google has an easy-to-install toolbar in Firefox and WordPress has an easy plugin for Social Media, just to name a few examples. The benefit to having these plugins is to bring together a variety of functions into one environment. This allows for the end user’s experience to be completely optimized and as streamlined as possible.

Zmags recognized this need with their SaaS platform as well. We released our first plugin for Demandware and Magento earlier this year and have just recently rolled out one for Hybris. The Zmags platform lends itself to an ideal shopping experience inside a customer’s  digital catalog or lookbook. Instead of reinventing the wheel of eCommerce, the next logical step was to develop plugins that eased the pain points of integration and allowed for a seamless experience between two existing platforms. Customers like Lucky Brand Jeans, Mark Ecko and The North Face have been working with Zmags to provide and immersive shopping experience within their digital publications.

Lucky Brand Jeans is a prime example of a major brand utilizing the Demandware Plugin for ease of use and integration.  They recently released their Holiday Gift Guide which showcases some of their most popular items for the upcoming season with a seamless shopping experience that allows a user to shop the items while perusing through the experience. This is done through the help of the Zmags Platform and the Demandware Plugin. The Plugin allows for the already-created shopping experience to be pulled into the Zmag via the use of quickviews. The experience is also optimized on all platforms including web, tablet, mobile and Facebook.

I will be hosting a webinar along with Demandware on November 6th, 2013 at 11am EST to discuss more about the Zmags platform, best practices for digital experiences and the importance of plugins. We encourage anyone in the eCommerce space to join this event, learn more and ask questions!

Zmags Shares Ideas at JUMP London

I wanted to start this post with a big thank you for everyone who stopped by at the booth at JUMP this week! All the team at Zmags had a great day meeting with some of the leading marketers, ecommerce, and multi-channel executives who attended the main event at the Festival of Marketing.

This was our 2nd year in attendance, the event continues to grow in popularity, and draw in people from all over the world.

I was also joined on a packed-out panel discussion by executives from Royal Sun Alliance, EE, and Exact Target, another thank you for all those who attended and to Branwell Johnson, Editor at Marketing Week for chairing the panel and keeping us all in check. This was a superb 30 minutes with questions from the audience about the lack of focus on customer retention, the use of gamification in improving CX, and how to get the whole of your business focused on improving CX.

Big themes from the day that Zmags heard about were personalization, the increasing use of interactive content to help engage consumers, and linking customer experience to ROI.

Please get in touch to find out more about how Zmags is perfectly positioned to help you achieve your business objectives. See some of the pictures we took on the day below!

Zmags Team at JUMP

Zmags at JUMP

JUMP trade show

JUMP London

The Unique Position of the Digital Magazine

Today’s digital world is saturated with spam, e-mail, blogs, tweets, posts, reviews and so much more – so is there still any room in this landscape for a digital magazine? At Zmags, we believe there is plenty, and when executed properly, the digital magazine can be an effective tool for driving more traffic and establishing a strong brand identity among customers.


Digital Magazine


Whether commerce-enabled or media rich (or a combination of the two), digital magazines are still a place for authentic brand building. Magazines offer an opportunity to build engagement, loyalty, and trust, making “add to cart” an easier proposition down the road.  The beauty of all this is the transparency to reader behavior.  The engagement time, reader behavior and purchasing patterns can all be tracked through powerful online analytic.

Digital Magazines offer up the opportunity to bring a traditional print experience alive.   Whether that’s via video, animation, interactive and dynamic content or being able to purchase what you are reading about or is being advertised.  All this is available wherever your customer is, whenever they want to consumer it and whatever device they happen to be using.

If readers are able to view the magazine in a channel or format that they are already comfortable being on, then they are more likely to linger there and consume in-depth content. Audi proved this theory true when it integrated its magazine into an easily accessible experience on Facebook. The result: increased readership by 1500%, three quarters of it attributable to Facebook directly.

Beyond increasing readership and exposure, digital magazines can also still support e-commerce initiatives. For those that are e-commerce crazed, magazines can serve as a cultivator of new customers and an introduction to the brand value in a “get them in the door” strategy. Today’s consumer is concerned with engaging experiences and content that adds value  – the digital magazine can accomplish both of these when executed properly, providing interactive content across multiple channels and editing in real time.

What separates digital magazines from their print ancestors is not simply easier access and saving paper – it’s the ability to be interactive and create a dialogue. When the brand is listening as much as it is putting forth a message, engagement can occur. When a user can expand or collapse content, select from multiple options of images and videos, and contribute reviews and feedback, there’s a sense of control and empowerment that print magazine readers could never have imagined. That interactivity is what breeds trust and brand loyalty, can be measured and will pay dividends in the long run.

4 Characteristics of Successful Digital Content

There is no recipe for successful digital content. It takes creativity, strategy, data analysis, synthesis, and probably some luck too. In today’s multi-channel, social media driven climate, however, we’ve identified 4 characteristics that will help provide a framework for success:

  1. Easy Design
  2. Engaging
  3. Shareable
  4. Adds Value

Easy Design

This may sound funny at first. You’ve heard “easy user interface” or “slick design”, but when the standard for easy usability informs the design process, the result will be better. The relationship between all elements of content – text, images, video – must be easily understood and move the user toward his/her next action.


Viewer Shopping


Another consideration in easy design for digital content is easy viewability across all channels and devices. If the call to action is buried or diminished because it doesn’t translate well from one device to the next, then the content will be hindering its own success.


To engage is to “attract and hold attention”. In today’s cluttered digital world, this seems as hard a proposition as any. But content with this power to attract and retain attention will be content that offers more than reading. Successful content has a mix of text, video, and image, ideally that they can contribute to in some way and share via social networks. Video, for one, has been proven to increase the likelihood of a purchase.


Consider these two commercial videos on YouTube: Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” and Mercedes-Benz “What Is Performance?” The latter video has just under 40,000 views, where the former has approximately 46 million. The difference between the two is that the Old Spice offering has something – in this case a funny man whose location and props seem to change instantaneously – that people want to consume repeatedly and share with other people. The characteristics of “share-able” are hard to identify, but if the goal for content is for it to be share-able in this way, then that will better inform all decisions along the content development and publishing process.

Value Add

Successful content will add value to the user’s experience. Adding value will round out the other 3 characteristics, because without adding value, the other elements are almost nullified. A value-add piece of content will help the user make a decision – for example a telling infographic, a product review, or a demo video. A video can be engaging, but if the connection is not clear and it does not offer something palpable for the user, the video won’t be played for more than 10 seconds. If the goal of content is to “attract and hold attention”, adding value is one way to accomplish that.


Of course there are more characteristics of good digital content than the ones listed above, but checking off some or all of these means that your digital content is headed in the right direction.


All Feedback Is Positive for Customer Support

"Quality, Service & Reliability" keys on keyboardToday, with the variety of ways to contact customer support for online products and platforms – including email, live chat, Twitter, FAQ portals, automated phone menus – the value of actually speaking with a live customer support representative becomes that much more important.  The level of expectations for customer service for online products and tools has risen, making customer feedback critical to continue to exceed expectations.

While you of course don’t want to overwhelm your customer base with feedback requests, there is key knowledge you can acquire at various points of interaction.  The trick is to be consistent and concise with any questions posed, by:

  1. Indicating the importance of feedback to your business,
  2. Proving the value of such feedback with an incentive and
  3. Communicating how feedback has been executed on (at some future point).

First, how to get feedback

For online software platforms, online surveys are a logical tool to solicit evaluations from customers on their support experience.  This could be targeted at specific activities or issue levels, or asked of all who interact with customer service at some level.

At Zmags, we ask for feedback at any and all points of engagement with our Customer Service team, albeit proactive training programs and webinars or reactive technical support and troubleshooting.  We kick off all feedback surveys with a simple question that enables us to gauge a Net Promoter Score across the team:

Based on your recent experience with our support team, how likely would you be to recommend Zmags to a friend or colleague? (0=very unlikely, 10=very likely)

The responses to this simple question can be used to assess performance, satisfaction and potential for improvement – especially when looked at over time and among key customer segments.  Likelihood to recommend is then the building block to follow up questions:

  • How could we improve your experience?
  • Was your rating product or service driven?
  • Thanks for the great rating!  Would you be willing to give a testimonial?
  • If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing what would that be?

You can easily replace “support team” with other areas of the business (Sales, Product, Marketing) to benchmark other departments as well. The subjective date can give you leads on where to improve, but as a business improving and sustaining NPS is critical  – The way the NPS is then calculated is shown below*

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

To calculate your company’s NPS, take the percentage of customers who are Promoters and subtract the percentage who are Detractors.

NPS graphic

In a day where online reviews and feedback is used by many when making decisions it’s so valuable to know whether your customers are recommending you.  Word of mouth is a vital (and free) way to enforce your brand.  Executive decisions are made on recommendations and thus improving NPS is an essential way to improve organic growth.

3 Methods of Implementation:

1. Indicate the importance of feedback to your business

Start out your survey with an honest note about the value it provides so that you can make your services even better.  At Zmags, we use:

Thank you for taking time to let us know about your recent support experience. Your feedback is important, and will help us improve our service.

Having your CEO or an executive “sign” this introduction could be that much more powerful.

check boxes2. Prove the value with an incentive  

At Zmags, we award an iPad every Quarter to one customer who has given us feedback and ensure that we promote it whilst thanking all  those that gave us feedback:

Please take 2 min. to rate my service and as a sign of our appreciation you will be entered into a draw to win an iPhone 5.

Or, depending on your product/service and audience, you could instead offer a coupon or  to donate to a specific charity (or, let them chose the charity!).  The latter works well with senior executives and C-suite respondents.

3. Communicate how feedback has been executed on

Try posting this in your community portal, send out emails to survey respondents, etc. to communicate any decisions and improvements that have been made based on the feedback.  This can help customers develop an even stronger connection with your brand, knowing they have made a material impact!

What to do with all of the data

  • Utilize your Promoters as referrers/lead generator/testimonials
  • Celebrate your scores externally: – Zmags Customer Service NPS tends to hover around 80 which is incredible and a real selling point when pitching against completion
  • Each department will have a different NPS level, which will become clearer over time.  Analyse where that fits and look to top-performing departments for ideas on how to improve.
  • In some cases representatives (support reps), campaigns, product features etc. can also be matched to NPS results.  Again, look to the best and try to replicate their successes!


NPS Leaders – U.S. 2012* NPS Leaders – UK 2011*




USAA – Banking


Apple – Computer Hardware

67 – Online Shopping


First Direct – Banking


USAA – Auto Insurance


LG – Television


Trader Joe’s – Grocery


Samsung – Television


Costco – Department Stores / Apple – Computer Hardware / USAA – Homeowners Insurance


Sony – Computer Hardware




The bottom line is to grab feedback at important moments of customer interaction.  That might be an excited customer or an irritated customer.  Ask and consume feedback consistently and effectively – pick a few key metrics to measure NPS and performance.  Ultimately a high NPS is a sign of healthy business that can boast loyal customers happy to promote your organization.


*taken from

*taken from

Photo Credit: pitbull2013 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dan Eriksson via Compfight cc

Flash is Out: Other Methods of Engagement and Conversion

Flash is quickly becoming the dreaded “F word” of the design and web world. Truth be told, flash is still out there and being used more than the buzz-word-using-techies would like to admit. However, its uses are drastically changing. With tablet and mobile devices gaining traction a design shift has resulted in cleaner, more streamlined, experiences- which tend to be less “flashy” (pun intended). These designs can now be built responsively and in HTML5 making them optimized for any device.

tablet table

So how can I move my brand away from flash and still be successful in customer engagement, you ask? Well, there are a lot of approaches to take. Here are three places to start that could end up increasing your conversion metrics:

Overall Design:

The look and feel of digital deliverables has been shifting over the past few years. With new programming languages and design styles, people are taking an entirely different approach when putting together digital campaigns. A few things to consider when kicking off a project:

  • HTML5: having websites, landing pages, or even digital catalogs in HTML5 conquers half of the battle from the start. This means that the experience will work seamlessly across all devices and channels.
  • Responsive Design: with the ability to design things as “responsive”, we can ensure that they are scaleable, regardless of the device size. This significantly decreases the development and QA time and allows for one design to speak to the masses.

Calls to Action (CTAs):

The best way to convey a message or request engagement from a user is through calls to action. These can be done in so many ways outside of flash that the customer’s engagement isn’t compromised. Here are a few tips:

  • Include in Creative: incorporate the CTA into the base of the creative deliverable. Putting it into the landscape of the design as part of the message (versus adding the animated enhancement above the creative in a layer of flash) ensures it’ll be viewed the same way by everyone- regardless of device.
  • The Look & Feel-  make sure that the CTA looks clickable or conveys a clear message without being wordy. By incorporating  it into the experience it’s going to be seen by everyone- just make sure they know what to do with it.


Digital experiences lend themselves to a deep dive of information. Lightboxes allow additional information, content and promotion to be incorporated within an experience that drives higher conversion. Some great lightbox content ideas:

  • Forms: whether it’s a lead generation form, email signup or special promotional signup, the ability to put the action item in a stand alone experience within an existing experience makes converting even easier.
  • Product/ Promotional Information: when beautiful product imagery doesn’t want to be littered with product details and promotional fine print, a lightbox can be ideal. It’s a great way for users to learn more about a product and even transact if the experience is eCommerce enabled.

The digital landscape is shifting in so many ways that the migration away from flash is just the tip of the iceberg, but an excellent start. Flash won’t be gone tomorrow but it’s not the creative leader of the future. HTML5 will only be improving and becoming easier to use in the next year, ensuring that experiences are optimized regardless of where a user is viewing them.

The Catalog as an Online Engagement Tool

The primary qualitative  KPIs for any web/digital marketer typically involve engagement metrics (average time spent per visit, average page views per visit, bounce rate) and conversion metrics (form submissions, online orders, etc.).

tablet purchase


Here at Zmags we have shown outstanding results in improving these metrics when using a digital catalog/brochure as part of the overall website content mix.

Case Study – Laura Ashley

The 212 store fashion and homeware retailer has been using the catalog as part of the Direct Commerce mix successfully for many years, but as for most catalogers, the increased cost of distribution means expanding the channel has become very difficult — despite a healthy demand from their loyal customers to view new season collections via this format.

Zmags has been able to bridge this distribution gap, and we work with Laura Ashley to provide a rich and engaging digital version of their catalogs to their consumers. It is available to view instantly through homepage promotion, email subscribers, and offers consistent functionality across devices – supporting desktop, tablet and smartphones through the browser of the device. They have also included links to the catalogs with iPhone and iPad apps to further enrich the experience on those devices.

Laura Ashley SS2013 Catalogue

laura ashley catalog


This is helping generate 1000s of additional catalog views each week, with average engagement times at a huge 10 minutes, and on average each consumer gets through at least 100 pages per visit. Bounce rates for digital catalogs (those that do not navigate past the cover page) across the Zmags client base are below 15%, which validates that this is an option that consumers crave, especially with those retailers who have a long history in creating stunning and inspirational catalogs to engage consumers.

This performance actually reinforces the need for a catalog as part of the overall marketing mix for Laura Ashley as a direct sales tool.

With engagement and “experience” commerce becoming a key focus for most retailers right now, digital catalogs that help to harness the curated content format through a linear user journey can offer a huge ROI to those seeking to drive consumers to content, rather than discount promotions. This becomes especially important at new seasonal releases when consumers are figuring out the season’s trends, or at key campaign times such as Christmas or Valentine’s Day when consumers are seeking inspiration for gift ideas. It also allows various types of assets that currently exist separately to be merged together, for example, a product on the page of a catalog may have an associated video that can be viewed, or additional product details/technical specifications that could be important to bring into a light box over the content. This means that the investment made in those assets can go even further to help engage the consumer.

Our 1st Quarterly Digital Catalog Benchmark Report: 2012 Release & Webinar next week

Next Wednesday, April 10th at 11 am ET/ 4 pm GMT I’ll be leading a webinar about the 2012 Zmags’ First Digital Catalog Benchmark Report.  The findings detailed in this report are aimed at helping Marketers, Content Strategists, Ecommerce leaders, etc. know what to expect to achieve via this type of collateral.

We aggregated performance data across more than 24K online magazines and catalogs that were activated by Zmags customers in 2012 to establish a baseline on key metrics, including:  visitation levels, conversion rates, time spent per visit, and more.  Moving forward, quarterly updates will be released to expand upon these learnings – to help you stay up-to-speed on the latest digital catalog trends and developments over the year.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the key points I’ll cover in the webinar:

  • More than 1 in 5 visits to online magazines and catalogs are from mobile devices (smartphones or tablets)
  • The best-performing online gift guides last holiday season were actually fairly short — fewer than 20 pages — and aimed at specific audiences and segments
  • Plus, hear our top 3 digital catalog/magazine predictions for 2013 (hint:  “one size fits all” is a thing of the past!)

Click here to sign-up if you haven’t already!

Share of visits via mobile device

Why Marketers are Scurrying to Provide Video Based Content

Comscore reports that as of April 2012, almost 85 percent of US audience viewed online video. An adult viewer watches 21.8 hours a month on an average and this is double the corresponding figure in 2010.

How to use video in your digital catalogThe emergence of multiple digital touch points with enhanced multimedia capabilities has further facilitated the popularity of videos as a content medium. A 2012 study by the etailing group sponsored by Invodo revels that one in two smart phone users and more than six out of ten tablet users watch one or more product videos in a three month period.

Such a steep increase in the popularity of the video is forcing marketers sit up and take notice. The Social media examiner reports that 76 percent of all marketers plan to increase the space of video in their marketing plans in 2012. This is likely to yield good results, with the Internet Retailer reporting that 85 percent of the prospects who view product videos would most likely make the purchase. Those who view video are 17.4 percent more likely to make a purchase versus those who do not watch videos.

There are many reasons for such a high conversion rates:

  • Videos provide the most appropriate engagement medium for those who prefer visual or audible communications over written or verbal communications. Such people constitute about 60 to 70 percent of all shoppers.
  • Videos help consumers progress to a “ready to buy” state by educating them with product information and specifications. Evidence suggests that people who watch videos spend more time on the website and engage better. When they purchase, they purchase with confidence, with lesser cart abandonment compared to those who do not watch videos. After making a purchase they are less likely to return the product.
  • For the marketer, incorporating video provides an added benefit of improved SEO optimization, resulting in improved search engine ranking and thereby better visibility.

How are you using this medium to increase conversion rates?

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?