Digital is an Opportunity for Brands, not a Menace
Most brands feel that their presence online is something they need to do but not necessarily want to. This often leaves customers disappointed if not disenfranchised by an inadequate digital identity for the brand that caters to customers’ e-commerce or research needs.
Doing digital right is a holistic approach that includes online, mobile and digital aspects of a company merging seamlessly to be readily available at any touch point a potential or existing customer might want to get in touch or informed. It’s often boosted by creating a community of users that help push the brand higher, by resorting less to the more traditional ad campaigns and cost-per-click methods.
Of course, doing digital and online right isn’t just about marketing, but also providing better services for your customers by utilizing new technologies and cutting-edge, tested methods. At its core, the digital and online strategy of a brand needs to make transactions easier, and maybe even enjoyable for customers. It’s also a field where a brand might do a great job gaining an edge over the competition, with services or features that help it stand out and build brand loyalty.
There are many examples of success stories, and even more of unfortunate failures. Today, we’ll be taking a few familiar giants and discuss how they’ve succeeded in their respective industries with their online strategy.
1. Amazon’s “Users Also Bought” Recommendations
Amazon might have been a trailblazer when it added customer reviews to each product you can order from their website, but they didn’t stop there. If you shop online on Amazon, you probably noticed a carousel of small photos of products that will probably be complementary to the item you are thinking of, under the details of the product you are browsing. It could be something like a laptop case that fits the model you were about to order, or other accessories like adapters and cables.
This is ingenious both to drive more sales from their customers, but also are a time-saver for users who don’t mind spending a little extra to have a combination that might make more sense to them and what they need them for, based on previous purchasing behavior of Amazon’s massive data.
It’s like almost every week, a new Android phone’s billboards are covering the streets on your commute home and pop up in your feeds as sponsored and boosted posts. However, you’ve probably never seen a simple campaign for Apple’s flagship: the iPhone. That’s because Apple’s approach to marketing disposes with the traditional splurging on traditional advertising, and instead uses carefully executed product placements to generate hype around a new product.
Apart from that, Apple relies on the mostly generous reviews of their products. Over the years, the company has succeeded in creating a significant emotional connection between its customers and the products they create. This means that the secrecy before every release, the grandiose and exclusive presentations at their California HQ and the lines in front of retailers help build the excitement online. It also drives much more favorable reviews than your average smartphone, with critics being able to put aside deal-breakers with other manufacturers, for carrying an Apple product that will always keep a user happy and satisfied, with a reliably simple interface and great build quality.
In 2016, almost 25% of all Starbucks transactions were done over their mobile app. Letting users pay for their coffee with an app made doing business with Starbucks easier for a considerable portion of their customers who prefer to pay via the app instead of card or cash.
Digital strategies need to make attracting new customers, and keeping old ones happy, easier. The Starbucks app is a good example of that, where users could not only make a transaction easier and more convenient, but also stay up to date with offers and even a store locator if a customer feels like a frappucino venti but isn’t sure where the closest Starbucks is.
In the age of Uber, Careem has been able to compete in the region by using the “local solutions to local problems” ethos. Today, Careem has over 1 million captains (drivers), in more than 120 cities in 15 countries.
Just like Souq.com, Careem faced several challenges the region posed for an app-based ride-sharing app. Careem’s focus on research and development helped them innovate features and services that Uber has copied over the years. Scheduling rides ahead of time, updating your location and destination as well as the option of cash payment helped make Careem the powerhouse it is today in the region.
Careem’s approach to digital and mobile was different, understanding that a faceless app interface wasn’t what many potential customers were comfortable with in the region. Instead, Careem sought offline ways to entice customers onto their streamlined, user-friendly app and ensured that their drivers are well taken care of and thus provided a better, safer experience for riders in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Lessons one can learn from Careem is the local approach to local problems. No matter how big an offshore company is, the solutions it has might not always work in a specific part of the world. Careem has understood that perfectly and has been able to tailor-make online services that helped make ride-sharing commutes a vital part of many Arab cities in a relatively short amount of time.
Souq.com, especially after its historic acquisition by Amazon, is a textbook example of a company in the MENA region not only doing digital and online right, but actually helped create the region’s e-commerce ecosystem and its accompanying infrastructure. So much so, that Amazon paid a record-breaking 580 million dollars in 2017 to acquire Souq.com, instead of attempt to compete with it in the region.
A huge part of Souq.com’s success was understanding the different markets in the region, and innovating solutions to problems they were facing. Problems such as a lack of trust in credit cards and the logistical problems in countries with an underdeveloped transport system. Souq.com ended up spawning two companies, PayFort payment service and Q Express courrier service. Both of these separate entities capitalized on technology to solve problems that many other e-commerce experts felt would be impossible in the region. Today, Souq.com and the companies that it started have not just been successful, but have basically created the e-commerce ecosystem in the region.