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Now, more than ever, brand storytelling is driven by digital media.

But the digital landscape is chaotic. It’s a highly fragmented universe that includes online video, display, search, mobile apps, social commerce, interactive TV, gaming and more. These new channels have disrupted the traditional path to purchase… but they’ve also created new opportunities to connect. Consumers today are always connected via mobile devices — at home, on-the-go, and in shopping environments.

But with so many moving pieces, how do you keep your brand’s digital mix straight in your head? Has your boss ever asked what your brand was doing in digital? Imagine the horror of having to explain such complexity!

To simplify that explanation, create a digital ecosystem.

Digital_ecosystem

What is a digital ecosystem?

Simply stated, an ecosystem is a set of relationships. A digital ecosystem visually clarifies how your mix of digital channels works together relative to your consumer’s journey.

A digital ecosystem is categorized by drivers, hubs and outcomes. It connects all the content experiences that your brand delivers and shows how your consumer gets from one place to another. Most importantly, a digital ecosystem highlights an end game for each digital investment.

Download the Digital Ecosystem Planning Template

Start with business goals, KPIs and your consumer!

Your consumer should define the elements of your digital ecosystem. Take the time to understand and chart their persona and expectations along their entire journey. Understand which media connections are most relevant (and why) during each phase of their decision-making process and articulate the type of content that gets them engaged.

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RETAIL FUNDAMENTALS FOR MOBILE-SOCIAL COMMERCE

Retailers have always observed people in their stores to gain insight into how to create a better shopping experience. Where does the customer go upon entry? Can she find the right aisle?  Does she read product information or does she grab-and-go? These insights were critical to “winning the customer at shelf” – for both retailers and brands alike.

But while these insights are still relevant today, they don’t provide nearly enough value - or context - to truly bond with today’s socially-connected, location-aware shopper.

Whether it’s for electronics or egg whites, power has completely shifted to the consumer.

Industry wonks have playfully labeled this trend MoSoLoCo. That is, the effects of mobile devices, social media, and location-awareness on all forms ofcommerce. It’s driven by three things:

  • Smarter, faster technology (mobile devices)
  • Access to information and trustworthy opinions about anything (social media)
  • More relevant contexts (location-aware)

Commerce is mobile (mCommerce)

The ability to initiate or complete transactions via mobile is still in its infancy, but usage is already widespread. Oracle reports that 48 percent of consumers research and browse products and services from their handheld. And comScore says 38 percent have used their smartphone to make a purchase at least once.

When consumers are able to learn about, find, compare, buy, and review products and services without breaking a sweat-and when they’re able to perform these actions from any location, at any time, that creates challenges for brands and retailers.

For example, The New York Times recently characterized Best Buy as a “showroom” for Amazon.  And Target, incensed by mobile-social research in their stores, sent a stern message to suppliers:

“What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices without making investments, as we do, to proudly display your brands.”

Adding fuel to the fire is eBay, who created TV ads that embrace showrooming as a way to drive their own business:


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One of the challenges with engaging fans on Facebook every day is finding relevance. The easy thing to do is connect your posts to  the calendar. But that’s what everyone does, as evidenced by my current Facebook stream. Yes, it’s Groundhog day. But unless your brand can draw a highly relevant connection to this event, figure out a different way to engage. Pepto and Dunkin Donuts do an adequate job here, but if every brand is talking Groundhog day, are they really breaking through?

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President Obama’s latest proposal to fix healthcare demands that every American carries health insurance. The legislation is controversial.  It will soon be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, debated by talking heads, and contested on couches and in coffee shops across the land as the 2012 election unfolds.

shaun-quigley-games-fixing-american-healthcare

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Imagine having Bob Dylan as your brand’s spokesman.  For cents on the dollar.

Display advertising on the mobile web–or in-app mobile advertising–provides some of the richest opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers.

Here’s a mobile ad that converted me recently. And here’s why it worked:

photo1. Personalized to me based on a recent mobile search

2. Location-aware with a map to help me connect when I’m on-the-go

3. Strong call to action with the option to call (without expanding the ad)

4. Creative content connection thru Pandora internet radio (to which I’m addicted)

5. User review star rating authenticates quality via UGC/third party

This ad caught my attention initially because I was intrigued by a Dylan song I hadn’t heard before, on a station that was curated by a friend (bonus social connection~!).

This plumbing supply store gets two thumbs up for smarter, faster mobile advertising.

download2Each weekend in August, I cross the Chesapeake from Washington, D.C. to Delaware’s beaches.  And on the Sunday return, usually hit up a farm stand to gather produce for Sunday dinner.

It’s rural. Really rural.  No phone service. Just cornfields and cicadas.

This past Sunday, I stopped at Mason Farms to collect loot for this delightful  salsa verde  recipe.

Boy did they have their act together. Upon checkout, the farmer whipped out an iPad2  and ran my card to complete the sale. I used my finger to authorize the transaction with a signature.

Seamless. It felt like an Apple store. Only the product was tomatoes and snap peas instead of tablets and smartphones.

The lesson here? Even if  you’re selling to (or from) C&D counties–there’s still an opportunity to surprise and delight your consumer through technology.

Is your retail business keeping up with rural Delaware?

Join Brunner’s Shaun Quigley for Brunner’s latest webinar, “Realign your Digital Strategy” webinar.

A website overhaul can be expensive and time-consuming. Throw in all the factors like the convergence of mobile with social media, and you’ve got yourself a full-scale strategic initiative. Shaun will discuss the latest trends with website design and development as well as cover how to develop and optimize content strategy, take a deep strategic approach to planning, and align your social media properties.

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Boxing promoters get paid big bucks for a reason–and it’s not to manage the bout. It’s to get people to the main event. 

Most websites get lousy traffic because all the effort is put into the site and people forget about promotion. And if there is promotion–it’s typically a few wildly-thrown punches that never land, with no sustained strategy beyond that. Draw your own crowd with these website promotion best practices:

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This is the first in a two-part series rethinking what it takes to make a best-in-class website.

We get a lot of RFPs for website redesigns. All of them are well-intentioned. Some are granular in detail. Others are more “big picture.”  Some have a clear sense of what they want to achieve. Others haven’t a clue. Some are so procurement-driven they feel like a tax audit.  But they all say “website redesign.” And whenever I see or hear this phrase—website redesign—it conjures up the same image:

lipstick-on-pig
Five years ago, I got a note from a former client who had just moved into a new job. I printed it out and put it up on the wall, because it challenged the conventional wisdom of what it takes to truly be best-in-class.

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A website overhaul is expensive, time consuming, and requires an enormous commitment from a client and the partner they choose to help them lead it. So with all that’s at stake, why redesign when you can realign? It may sound academic, but there are several critical distinctions.

A redesigned site:

is driven by a creative brief

understands the target

aesthetics first, then content

focuses on form

starts with design mock-ups

pleases mgmt in the short term

A realigned site:

is driven by business objectives

unlocks the key consumer insight

content strategy before aesthetics

focuses on form and function

starts with an idea

accomplishes business and user objectives

More after the jump.

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A friend tweeted today that he was going to start using Quora more…. if he could make the time.

Quora is the social Q&A engine where people write their own answers to questions and post questions of their own.  It’s like Wikipedia–in that it’s continually improving (in theory).

In our business, it’s important to make time to explore emerging things. I try and devote ~10% of my social media usage to trying something new.

But integrating something new into your regular work stream creates a problem. There simply isn’t time.

So here’s a simple solution: apply the law of conservation of social media.

The law of conservation of mass: a fundamental principle of classical physics that matter cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.

The law of conservation of social media: a fundamental principle of time management that social media usage (for heavy users) cannot be increased without going insane or living in complete technological isolation.

More simply, if you’re adding something new–do something else a little less.

Then get out for a walk and leave your phone behind for once.