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The Evolution Of Retail: Changing Customers And Digital Advancement

Image source: SACSC website.

CEO of the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), Amanda Stops, says that from year to year, the evolution of our industry is one of staggering promise and opportunity – as well as uncertainty.

The future may be unknown, yet two things are certain: customers will continue to change, and digital advancement will carry on reshaping our world in ways that encourage people to form new habits, find new ways to work together and become better human beings. And, in most cases, these changes translate into a range of opportunities and disruptions across every part of our industry.

On of SACSC’s key aspect to address is design that accommodates the needs of consumers in the future and the environmental concerns of our day. It might be a reach to imagine what the shopping centre might look like in the near future, but it is necessary to think about it now. Reimagining shopping centre design will require us to delve into various disciplines including engineering, art, science and architecture.

The other key aspect to consider is the impact technology and digital advancement is having on consumer purchasing habits. A recent PwC report shows that technology has given the consumer the tools to put them in a position to demand a tailored, seamless and multichannel shopping and social-media powered experience. Retailers need to have a blend of physical, technology and digital approaches.

Today, the customer experience is all about ‘inspiration’ no matter what category a retailer plays in. Digital helps to engage the retailer’s community on an ongoing basis, connecting with them in relevant and creative ways. Consumers want to be able to use technology to help them engage with the store, whether physical or digital, at every step of the shopping journey. It is a powerful tool in influencing and changing consumer behaviour. As new technologies emerge to disrupt industries, companies of all sizes can’t afford to sit on the side lines. In a world where new technologies pop up all the time, the companies that put consumer needs first are in a position to win.

The integration of the shopping centre with technology and digital to create a great customer experience is verified by research. Consumers say that the physical store remains an important element of both researching and purchasing. Shoppers increasingly prefer to research online, but many still want to go to a store to make their purchase. With the convergence of offline and online shopping, digital has become the avenue for growth. Stores don’t need to make the sale – they need to deliver an experience that supports the brand.

At this year’s SACSC Congress, we will delve into: how we as an industry we need to evolve to keep ahead and how we need to do things differently as well as how to optimise the blend of the shopping centre experience and use of technology to create a greater return on experience with the customer and thereby gain a competitive advantage.

The 2020 SACSC Congress will take place from 7 – 9 October 2020 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

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This article was sourced from www.sacsc.co.za

How To Approach Digital Transformation

Image source: DYDX website.

Templar Wales, Partner at DYDX explains how you should approach digital transformation in 2020.

Trend predictions are for Fendi, Gucci and Chanel. Even Louis Vuitton opening their new restaurant in Osaka is a trend for luxury brands, following Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Tiffany’s. But, in digital transformation, there are things that, if you aren’t already doing, you should be doing. And what you should be doing depends on your particular business and who your customers and employees are — not trends.

Approaching digital transformation

No email – and the future of work

Email might always have a small role for formalising agreements, just like paper still has a small role, but we find that in workshops on team behaviour, most agree that emails (asynchronous) should be replaced by something like Slack because its synchronous, organised, and the right people are in the right channels — no ‘who should I CC?’ issues.

But what’s important is that the people in the team agree on new behaviours (even if just by majority consensus), commit to trying, and don’t lapse to old ways when they’re stressed or under pressure. And even if they do lapse, that they just get back on the bus again.

The Future of Work is not about selecting and implementing new software. Successful transformation is about shifting teams’ behaviour and skills to use the software and continuously measuring and improving the systems and processes.

No Code – and XaaS

Yes, there will always be some code to be written, but most of the functionality we need is readily available as a service. This means faster implementation, more flexibility and manageable costs. All the time you save building services should be spent on defining the customer or employee experience from end to end, weaving the services together into a more seamless journey and automating anything that computers do better and faster than us mere mortals. By the time you scope, build and test your Titanic/Albatross/Metropolis (needs a better metaphor) it’ll be out of date. Transform at the speed of life.

No design – and better design

There is still lots of design and the experience is vital to the use of a product or service. But with the rapid adoption of voice commands and apps that communicate with us primarily through audio, and minimising visual engagement, we need to consider how people experience brands and their services without aesthetic cues. All of the design decisions you made in the past need to be accounted for in audio. In both visual and sound design, less is better — don’t let your ideas and brand get in the way of good user experience.

No consumers, no users – and the rise of the human

AI, machine learning and automation feel like they could threaten our jobs and our security, but in most cases, they free us up to be more human — giving us more time to do the stuff we’re good at and neural networks aren’t (for now).

Digital transformation is all about improving the human experience, about solving human problems. Service Design and Design Thinking are rooted in Human-Centred Design. The person you’re solving for is at the centre of the solution, not your very, very clever engineering.

So, we need to stop thinking of people as ‘users’ and ‘consumers’ and start seeing them as customers, employees and partners. It might sound like semantics, but the language we use changes the way we see experience things.

While I’m on this point, stop saying ‘Millennials’. People of all ages, colours and shapes have certain emotions and behaviours. Capture those feelings and behaviours and design for them, but seeing Millennials as a segment is just laziness.

No end

Transformation is not an end goal, it’s not a project, it’s an approach to ongoing improvement. It will become as normal as IT – which used to be a ‘thing’. In 2020, transformation will mature to be more pragmatic, more measurable and more achievable.

‘When digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar,’ – George Westerman of MIT.

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Event Promotion Through Digital Marketing

Image source: GL Events facebook.

According to Maxime Rosenwald, Managing Director of GL events South Africa, event planners who have been in the industry for a while are also catching up with the newbies to keep up with the latest trends.

In the past few years, South Africa has shown a huge increase in attention to detail when it comes to marketing an event and implementing the right sources to improve the way events are run. One type of marketing that has caught our attention is digital marketing.

Researching and attending events to get insight into the latest industry trends and campaigns is a good way to start. Social media platforms are far more effective in today’s marketing landscape and are highly cost-effective.

2020 will see increased usage of social media and new technologies that are sustainable. The focus is to pay attention to engagement. Research shows that YouTube is gradually becoming more popular than Facebook in South Africa – this is in both short and long-form. Technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, are not something the industry is rushing to get into, however, they are placed under the long-term strategy for marketing. Digital marketing works hand-in-hand with consumer experience, giving you the opportunity to engage seamlessly with your consumer before, during and after and event.

Implementing digital marketing into your events also means taking the time to know your consumer: what is it that they want? What are they comfortable with and how far are they willing to go for you and your event? Create an environment that allows for feedback-related marketing, as this will assist you to not only better your next series of events but creates a solid loyalty base and great engagement. The systems used for your consumer engagement should feel safe for them as research shows that South Africans are becoming more cautious with sharing data. It is important to keep customer data safe. This will mean keeping a clean database, not sharing data in any unlawful way and always giving consumers the option of opting out of communication as a form of surety.

E-commerce has shown to play a big factor in your events as well. A report compiled by Forbes shows that 72% of Instagram-users make use of in-app purchases and about 70% of surveyed Pinterest users make use of the app to find new and interesting products.

What does this then mean for your event? Electronic booking or ticket systems – selling tickets through existing software that is easily accessible for consumers and be able to track their online behaviour through analytics. The very same software can be used to promote your event. Another option that we’ve seen is having an app dedicated to your event only, this is especially important if your event is held annually. Your guests will have access to live updates, navigating through the event and leaving feedback. This gives event-goers a full-on experience.

New tools and technology are making the event industry run incredibly seamlessly, and every year it becomes better and better. It, however, does not end there. Always extend your knowledge on the latest strategies and align yourself with experts who are better skilled as they could know something you thought your event was nailing but is a huge fail. This year is going to be exciting for event planners and exhibitors. Remember: it does not end with digital marketing.

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Digital Components That Will Boost Customer Relationship Marketing

Michael Gullan, Co-founder and Managing Director of G&G Digital, says the year 2020 once seemed so far away — with flying cars, robots, video calling and even smart homes. Well, the future has arrived and hasn’t changed much, especially in business.

While we have seen many developments in technology and marketing strategies over the last decade, one thing that remains important to any business is customer loyalty. No matter the sector or size still, businesses rely heavily on customer loyalty. Loyalty can best be achieved by listening to customers, acknowledging their value and solving their needs.

Advocacy and Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) and smart strategies to create loyal customers and will give businesses the edge over competitors. Three digital components that will give your advocacy and CRM strategy an extra boost and help take your business to the next level.

1. Data

Business can collect a vast amount of data on a single customer. Data has no meaning unless it is accurately mined for insights. Use those insights to create new opportunities that add value to customers on an ongoing basis. This will build brand love, affinity, loyalty and, ultimately, advocates.

2. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance advocacy and CRM strategies. By integrating AI with advocacy and CRM, customers receive information on their device of choice at just the right time to add value to their lives.

Effective AI and automation deliver personalised content triggered and delivered just when your customers need it most – a proven effective way to boost brand engagement and loyalty.

3. Quality content

Producing quality and authentic content is key to any CRM and advocacy marketing. Use the same insights mined from your data to inform engaging content creation, then build that brand-customer relationship by delivering content that adds real value.

Adding to that, it’s essential for businesses to interrogate their content performance, and surprise their customers with what they’re not expecting, while at the same time always learning and refining their content process.

Technology will continue to impact businesses, and when used effectively can significantly assist businesses in achieving their objectives. Advocacy and CRM will become your most effective tools as they would embrace 4IR.

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PRISA Announces PRISM 2020 Young Voices

The Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) has announced the 2020 PRISM Young Voices – the 10 young people who will be given an opportunity to be mentored by South Africa’s top PR and communications professionals. The selection process is conducted by the PRISM Young Voices (PYV) committee, which is selected yearly from the previous year’s alumni. 

This year’s candidates are:

1. Emma Anderson.
2. Lerato Motloung.
3. Siyolise Shinga.
4. Nombulelelo Fox.
5. Samantha Mabaso.
6. Tashinga James Nyahunda.
7. Siyabonga Thwala.
8. Brenda Sono.
9. Candice Marescia
10. Oarabile Tlhabane.

Deputy chairperson of the PYV, Ayanda Siswana said, ‘There are only 10 slots every year and we have a big responsibility of ensuring fairness in the selection process. We think absolutely holistically about an entrant in terms of the value we see them adding to the programme and their potential to excel.’

Monare Matema, 2020 committee chairperson, and Siswana, commented, ‘The PYV has gained such an incredibly positive reputation in our industry for being the platform that exposes young talent to some of the most-renowned and respected senior experts in public relations and communications, as well as an extensive network of companies and opportunities within those organisations. The calibre of candidate that is presented to PYV every year keeps improving and that poses a challenge to the committee to have their best sharp eyes and minds on when reviewing entries; it is the tiniest details in an entrant’s motivation that puts them ahead of another candidate.’

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Reshaping Your Creativity In A Data-Driven World

A 2017 study by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that the world’s most creative companies financially outperformed their peer firms in revenue growth, return to shareholders and net enterprise value (the assessment used M&C’s Award Creativity Score).

Emma Odendaal, Digital Director at John Brown Media, says if creativity and business performance is directly linked, it stands to reason that we would want to protect and nurture creativity within our organisations. But in a data-driven world of test-and-prove, there is a risk that overreliance on technology will dilute creativity and produce homogenised experiences. 

The McKinsey study highlights that ‘with an increasing focus on the science of marketing – including performance marketing, marketing AI and advanced analytics – it’s important not to forget about the art of marketing.’ The chief marketing officer (CMO) who allows creativity to flourish will ensure that their brand stands out in a sea of digital sameness.

Creative companies do things differently – that’s a given – but does a road-less-travelled approach deliver ROI, and how do you stand out when some technology demands you fit in? 

Reshaping your creative efforts

Most people agree that creativity cannot be automated, but a recent Dentsu Aegis Network survey notes that while 85% of CMOs recognise that their organisations’ future business success relies on creativity and memorable ideas to build a brand and creates an emotional connection with consumers, just 54% of them trust in their personnel to deliver this.

It is important to understand how data, analytics and automation have changed the role that creativity plays in advertising and marketing and how teams need to reshape their creative efforts. Our challenge doesn’t lie in the technology itself, but rather in how we use it to generate light bulb moments and grow businesses.

Technology is a tool for creativity

The companies that performed best in the McKinsey study were those that demonstrated an ability to innovate and a capacity to translate innovation into business value. They embraced rather than sidelined new technology.

The best ideas come from collaborations between people, and technology can create the environment for this collaboration. So, consider how automation can absorb mundane administrative tasks to free up creatives’ time to do qualitative research, have face-to-face interactions with customers and ideation sessions with teams. Data-management platforms similarly allow the easy storage and rights management for creative assets, managing copyright and legal needs through tech systems.

Understand data limitations

Technology follows a formula, which is why an overreliance on data and tech breeds conformity. Creativity, on the other hand, is an expression of free will, diversity of thought and taste.

The data may tell us what people are searching for and the types of content they are engaging with on social media, but by the time content creators have analysed and acted upon the data, it is often too late. The trend is, well, no longer a trend. Creative expertise picks up on intuitive signals to predict what people are interested in long before the data confirms it.

Apply creativity to all touchpoints

According to Forrester (2019), ‘your goal should be to work with agencies that excel in both customer obsession and creative differentiation. This is easier said than done, given the uniqueness of those skill sets’.

Not all agencies support true creativity, as they typically lack deep editorial expertise that can interpret the data or they lack the tech stack that can adequately support the creative process.

Creative execution is not an afterthought. Agencies should start the marketing process with customer experience, data, tech and emotive content. The result is messaging that is memorable and makes a connection with the customer, with creativity at the heart of the solution.

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FCB Joburg Flights Last Number Debonairs Ad

Debonairs Pizza’s ‘Last Number’ campaign by FCB Joburg promotes the Triple-Decker® offering. The campaign has an above-the-line focus with two television executions – a 30-second TVC and a 20-second cut-down.

The brief by Debonairs Pizza’s Marketing Executive, Toni Joubert, was to target the 28-year-old brand’s predominantly youthful target market of single students or part-time workers under the age of 24 and families headed by working moms and dads under the age of 39.

It’s called ‘Last Number’ because it aligns the indulgent Triple-Decker® with the commonly used slang for something that is the best of the best. FCB Joburg Creative Director Mbeu ‘Snooze’ Kambuwa, who worked on the campaign with Art Director Kabelo Mabaso and Copywriter Marvin Mpanda explained, ‘The phrase ‘Last Number’ is used when referring to something that is better than the rest, or in this case someone who has it all. So, the Triple-Decker, with three layers and three cheeses is – of course – the Last Number of all pizzas.’

‘Our ad tells the story of Lebza, a funny, down-to-earth, loved-by-everyone guy who is doing well for himself. He talks and jokes like he has it all, which is why he is fondly known as ‘Lebza Last Number’ amongst his friends. It’s no surprise he chooses the Triple-Decker®, the Last Number pizza from Debonairs Pizza, and does so with obvious pride.’

The TVC was shot in Soweto in Johannesburg over two days, with Your Girlfriend handling the performance shoot and Hungry Films doing the necessary food shots. Media planning was by The Media Shop and post-production by Fuelcontent (along with FCB Joburg, both members of the Nahana Communications Group), while audio-post production was by Produce Sound. It began flighting on January 7 across all major South African television channels.

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M&C Saatchi Abel Supports Gender Diversity Survey – Other Agencies Can Also Pledge Their Support

The SheSays Survey on Gender Representation is initiated by the Cape Town chapter of SheSays – the world’s largest network for women in creative industries. The survey is done in partnership with Kantar and aims to engage the local industry regarding the improvement of gender representation and diversity within the creative sectors. 

The survey anonymously surveys male and female staff numbers by rank and department, and results will be presented in an aggregated format. M&C Saatchi Abel is the first agency to publicly pledge their support to the inaugural gender diversity survey in South Africa’s advertising and marketing sector. Agencies can pledge their support for this cause by taking part before 28 February 2020: SheSaysCTSurvey2019 

Mike Abel, Founding Partner & Chief Executive Officer, M&C Saatchi Abel said, ‘People from different cultures, races, genders and ethnicities bring a diversity of ideas and fresh ways of thinking to the table. Gender representation, particularly female representation, within the creative and advertising industries is a massive issue in South Africa. Diversity of thought and gender representation has been key to the success of M&C Saatchi Abel. And whilst we’re proud to be recognised as one of the companies leading this change, it’s going to take all of us working together to really create a meaningful and visible change throughout our industry. We want to urge all agencies to take part in this survey so we can get a first glimpse of the true numbers.’

SheSays director Anelde Greeff added, ‘We are delighted to have the support of a number of leading agencies in South Africa, including M&C Saatchi Abel, and hope that many more will show their support by taking this survey. As an organisation committed to empowering, educating and advancing women in creative industries, it’s vital for us to understand the actual state of affairs and measure our progress. Advertising informs societal views, and if the people behind these advertising campaigns are not representative of society, these views are skewed.’

Only one person from each agency, such as an HR professional or CEO, needs to share agency staff numbers. All participants will remain anonymous and data will only be reported in an aggregated format. Any queries can be directed to capetown@weareshesays.com


Optimising Websites And Content For Mobile Conversions

Marcus Matsi, Head of SEO at Reprise Digital South Africa.

Head of SEO at Reprise Digital South Africa, Marcus Matsi, says search engines are getting better at understanding content that is crawled. This enhances the user experience by only serving content relevant to the query’s intent.

Take for example Google Featured Snippets (structured data), Google’s Local Packs, Knowledge Graphs, and so on, that result in more than half of all searches being ‘zero-click searches’. This means that the user’s query is answered on the search engine results itself, without the user having to click on any links.  

Search Engines are finally putting the user first – enhancing zero-click searches, local searches and understanding content better than ever before. Ahrefs research shows that if brands rank first in a search and has what is termed position zero (the featured snippet), they gain 31% more traffic compared to just having the first position without the featured snippet.

A second trend in terms of search engines is the proliferation of Local Search. We’re seeing more and more people wanting to find information that is geographically relevant to them. For instance, users want to find food delivery services in their neighbourhood. If a brand’s website isn’t optimised for the user to find that information, chances are high that they’ll move on to one that is.

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, Local Search is a crucial component, with up to 78% of local-intent mobile searches resulting in an offline store visit within 24 hours.

Effective local search means having hyper-local content, augmented for voice and mobile search – brands must always focus on the intent of the user. Does the person want to purely find information or do they want to make a transaction? Interestingly, searches including the words ‘near me’ increased by 590% during 2018 and 2019 searches.

Thirdly, Google is spending a lot more time understanding content. The search engine has released an algorithm update named BERT affecting complicated search queries that depend more on context.

Yes, content remains king but most search engines still don’t understand the content ‘in front of them’ so to speak. There are a lot of cultural nuances, and local pricing references that search engines need to learn by country, by region, by suburb. For instance, using the South Africanised word ‘couch’ instead of ‘sofa’ can go a long way in assisting search engines to learn about geographic-specific data.

Ultimately content needs to be relevant, fresh, trustworthy and authoritative. But hosting sites need to adhere to Google Best Practice and have a fast loading time. In fact, 53% of visitors will leave your site if content doesn’t load in three seconds or less. That’s why it’s so important to optimise websites and content for mobile conversions. Also, the better that brands write content and spell out as much detail as possible, the better search engines will learn and the better the overall user experience for the consumer will be and ultimately for brands too.

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Tips On Ensuring Your Emails Get Delivered To Subscribers’ Inboxes

Everlytic released a thought leadership white paper, elaborating on how businesses can improve their email delivery using email engagement principles, like database hygiene, refining email properties, optimising email composition and email testing.

Achieving and maintaining a high delivery rate is often more complicated than it seems. From the moment a sender hits send to when an email arrives in the recipient’s inbox, it goes through a complex series of checks to ensure it’s legitimate. And, sometimes, even the most honest emails get stuck along the way.

Karyn Strybos, marketing manager at Everlytic said, ‘Email delivery is a problem that marketers all over the world face. You spend so much time crafting your message, only to be left in the dark on whether it’s reaching your subscribers’ inboxes. We wanted to share some helpful tips to help marketers increase the chances of their emails being delivered.’

The email delivery guide

Everlytic’s Email Delivery Guide walks readers through some of the actions they can take in their email creation right now to decrease their emails’ chances of being marked as spam and improve its delivery.

Ursinius Bronkhorst, Everlytic’s deliverability manager said, ‘Email authentication is a must, and one of the simplest ways to improve delivery when using any email platform (Outlook, Everlytic, etc.). It provides assurance to the ISPs that you’re who you say you are, making your message more trustworthy and them more likely to deliver your message to the inbox.’

To explore what else can be done to improve email delivery, download the white paper here

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