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  • Author: Kate Favrow
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Website Data & the Power to Know

Many retailers have a website because they know they should. The site is populated with the weekly ad that gives customers the info on the best deals, recipes that make consumers want to try new meals, and pertinent information like hours and address that help make store visits easier. Very often though, retailers don’t take enough time to understand what can be learned from that website. At a recent Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast, Corey Morris of Voltage KC shared his tips on Google Analytics and how to use them to understand more about who does what on your website. To start, Morris made a great point about data. He explained how while we all know there is tons of data out there, the expectation now is that we’ve harnessed the data that’s assumably there. He also noted that mastering that data is the inherent challenge. One of Morris’s most resonating comments turned out to be “Never bring and opinion to a data fight. Don’t start a discussion with “I think” because with data, we have the power…

Photo of panel participants discussing online shopping.

Online Shopping – Some FAQ’s

With online shopping growing quickly within the independent retail space, I recently attended state grocers association conventions for both the Missouri and Alabama Grocers to join panels discussing the opportunity. Below were some of the most prominent questions and my insight for retailers on them. What were your company’s objectives and/or process in finding an e-commerce provider? For AWG, we’ve been looking at online shopping programs for almost four years. When we started, it was really about helping retailers wade through the influx of providers into the space. We research each company, hear what their features are, and determine whether we believe there is an opportunity to scale both up and down for one-store operators and multi-store operators. Our main goal is to learn how the programs work and how we can get retailers up to speed quickly based on our experience. We also have paid close attention to what retailers are requesting when it comes to a provider. We have four partner provider solutions because we have all different kinds of retailers who want different attributes in an online…

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InKate

Technology Trends in Employee Communications – Unifying or Dividing?

How companies communicate with end consumers has definitely evolved over the last decade, but the ways companies communicate with employees has as well. In a recent Kansas City International Association of Business Communicators event, Jordan Warzecha from Backstitch walked through different ways companies can make sure employees are getting the information they need. According to Warzecha, engaged team members knows their job, but also their role in the organization. Engaged employees are 20% better performers, 87% more likely to stay at a company and contribute $13,000 more to a company’s bottom line. One of the challenges companies have is that they are large. To reach this group, Warzecha said companies have traditionally relied on eblasts, an intranet, or memos in the bathroom/break room. Intranets, while a dumping ground for everything are a source for nothing, said Warzecha, and email announcements were pushed at employees but didn’t hold much value. Social intranets needed engaged employees to contribute and newsletters had much of the same challenges as email announcements. But Warzecha said these strategies are broken. 70% of employees are disengaged at…

Woman with bullhorn

Engaging Influencers on Behalf of Your Brand

Fewer than 6% of millennials believe online ads are credible. In the digital marketing world, that’s a tough pill to swallow. Consumers are skeptical about brands and the stories they tell, that much is known. That’s why the money spent on influencers has gone up so much in recent years. Traditional influencers told their friends and family about great products and services over the dinner table or at gatherings. The digital equivalent of that is an influencer having a robust social following for whatever reason, whether it be she is good at taking pictures, he has a unique flair for food prep, or she just happens to be a social butterfly. These influencers are the ones you want on your side because they help elevate conversion rates 3x-10x. But, it isn’t easy. Liz Hawks of FleishmanHillard and Amy Merchant of Hallmark went through some tips for engaging influencers at a recent American Marketing Association Kansas City lunch. Find a Good Fit When thinking about using influencers, you have to work to find a good fit. For Hallmark, they were focusing…

Gift Cards

Build Your Brand Through Gift Cards

At the Blackhawk Summit, Blackhawk CEO Talbott Roche’s Summit opening talk revolved around Branded Value and she often referred back to a study Blackhawk recently conducted on it. If you aren’t sure what that is, Blackhawk defined it in their study as “a branded object of value that can be accepted in payment or exchange for another product or value”. For independent retailers, branded value gift cards are the ones with your store’s name on them. While Roche was talking more broadly to card partners and retailers who could have their cards sold through the Blackhawk Network, many of the ideas she mentioned applied to small, independent retailers looking at custom gift cards as well. Cards with your brand’s name on them give customers the opportunity to gift an experience in your store. Whether that customer likes you store because you are right on price, customer service, or product assortment, offering a gift card branded for you helps your customers encourage their friends and family to visit your store. Blackhawk’s research showed 91% of people trust their favorite brand somewhat…

Presenter on stage at Blackhawk Network Summit

Inside the Blackhawk Network Summit

Each year, Blackhawk Network holds a Summit. At this Summit, the companies who sell gift cards through Blackhawk’s network and the retailers who sell those gift cards get together to talk about the state of the gift card industry, what’s new, and how it can continue to grow. For the past five years, AWG has attended this Summit to represent the approximately 1,100 store locations on the 3rd-party gift card program. The most recent Summit was held May 1-3, 2017. AWG Corporate Marketing Manager, Kate Favrow, and AWG In-Store Marketing Supervisor, Bryan Wright, were present at the event. They had 17 one-on-one meetings with card partners including Google Play, Apple, Domino’s, Best Buy, Petsmart, GameStop, and Bass Pro Shop, just to name a few. During these meetings, the AWG team presented promotional opportunities to the card partners. In the latter half of 2017, AWG Marketing will be running everyday awareness campaigns, including one solely focused on the big birthday month of September, a Back to School buy/get promotion, a Black Friday buy/get promotion, and a Holiday shipper. These promotions have…

Brainstorm notes of elements that contribute to a brand.

Branding Strategies for Consumer Engagement

As marketers, our most notable objective is to engage with consumers. While that sounds nice, it is often a pretty difficult objective to excel at consistently. Consumers are fickle, their attention is being pulled a million different ways, and our message may one day be their priority, but the next day may not. One way to cut through the clutter is to deliver a recognizable brand experience. At a recent Kansas City Direct Marketing Association luncheon, Darryl Mattox from Gragg Advertising and Julie Pinedo from Guadalupe Centers talked about how a rebranding project led to more consumer engagement. Conduct Surveys The first step of the rebranding project was to conduct a consumer survey. This survey was to all Guadalupe Centers stakeholders and delivered in both online and printed form and in Spanish and in English to ensure equitable participation. While the survey asked for specific feedback, it also gave the team the opportunity to take the temperature of others on the rebranding project and see what opposition they might face along the way. There were five consumer survey best practices…

Puzzle with Social Media as a Puzzle Piece

5 Trends in Social Media

“Should I even bother with facebook anymore?” “Can you tell me how to do Snapchat?” “Why do I need to spend money on social media?” These are all questions I get pretty regularly from retailers. One thing we all know about social media is that it’s always changing. Knowing these types of questions are prevalent across industries and level of expertise, FleishmanHillard’s Justin Goldsborough recently hosted a Social Media Refresher to talk through five trends on social media. Media consumption is changing There are more ways than ever to connect, and the environment is noisy and fragmented. 75% of our waking day is spent consuming media and smartphone use continues to rise. With this in mind, Goldsborough encouraged marketers to create content in ways to grab attention and cater to the screen we’re on. No matter what, he said to look at marketing in an integrated fashion rather than looking at the channels in silos. Facebook organic reach is dying The numbers aren’t good for facebook organic reach. Goldsborough quoted 1-2% of a page’s audience seeing a post on facebook…

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What to do? Evolving Your Traditional Marketing

With all the different ways of marketing to consumers these days, retailers sometimes have a hard time knowing where to spend their money. We all know that as the options for marketing expand, the amount of money to spend on them stays the same. With vendor funding evolving as well, sometimes this bucket of money to spend on marketing is even shrinking. This leaves retailers asking the question: What should I do? Have a website. If you don’t have a website in 2017 consumers might wonder if you’re even in business. Google processes 3.5 Billion searches each day. It’s the default way people find information. If you don’t have a website, you aren’t helping consumers find you or information about your store. Sharlyn wrote a blog post about why you need a website, you can find it here. Whether you already have one or need one, make sure it is mobile responsive, optimized for search and gives your brand authenticity, Google and other search engines care about all those things when showing search results to consumers. Participate in rebate signage…

Scoreboard with 12 to 24 as the score.

Social with Lean Resources

Ever feel like your social media strategy is to just get points on the board? Get the content posted, make sure feeds are populated and interact with someone every once in awhile? At a recent Social Media Club of Kansas City lunch, Dan Smith, Sr. Manager, PR & Social Media Strategist for Cerner, admitted that was the case when he started at Cerner 18 months ago. With minimal resources and a evolving healthcare IT industry, Smith knew he had the opportunity to expand Cerner’s ability to connect with its most vital followers. Look at Metrics The first thing when trying to manage social media with lean resources is to understand what is working. For Cerner, their blog had been up since 2005 and they maintain social accounts on facebook, twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, but the real goal historically was to make sure all content was being posted on different channels. That’s it. To build a meaningful presence though, Smith knew they needed to dig deeper into who was connecting with them on the different platforms. That’s when they looked at…