Barbara Bates, Global CEO, Hotwire
The future of traditional media is beyond our wildest dreams thanks to technology’s latest and greatest innovations. Ask anyone who went to CES this year and they’ll tell you we’re seeing a fascinating trend that may initially seem counterintuitive – the rise of the joint physical and virtual world. Savvy brands are realizing that even in today’s digital lifestyle, consumers want the physical touch. We are calling the confluence of the physical with the digital – Phygital.
Take books for example – everyone predicted the death of the bookstore, so it came as a surprise that eBook sales in the US dropped by 19 percent in 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Or that sales of vinyl records have risen for the 11th consecutive year, according to Nielson Music. The rise of Phygital allows consumers to experience the tactile joys of analogue without skimping on the speed and convenience of technology.
This emerging concept is effective communications at its best – connecting brands and consumers across both environments. As you begin to develop digital campaigns for 2019, be mindful that consumers are still looking for that physical presence.
Personalization is preferred
What makes a phygital experience a more enjoyable one? Personalization.
When it comes to brands who are successful at personalization, I can’t help but think of Coca Cola and their named Coke bottles. Here Coca Cola launched a marvellously simple campaign to put names on bottles, and the results of such a decision were staggering: Sales growth outperformed Pepsi, Coke pulled in 28 percent more customers than a year prior, customers shared their personalized experience more than 250,000 times with the hashtag #ShareaCoke, and nearly all regions in the US recorded positive year on year growth at the end of the campaign.
By making it personal, Coke succeeded in creating special moments of happiness and memories for its individual customers. Everywhere we look, personalization is part of driving a great customer experience. It’s about connecting with the customer; it’s about tapping into that emotion. Succeed in doing that, and you build affinity and trust.
Keep Customer Experience Top of Mind
Everything we hear from clients and influencers today revolves around customer experience, and that’s not going to change in 2019. In fact, 91 percent of high performing marketing teams agree that a connected customer journey across all touch points and channels positively impacts customer loyalty. Another 89 percent say the same for its impact on revenue growth.
As communication professionals it’s up to us to activate the right channels to engage with the customer most effectively. This will require advanced insights into the behaviors and journey of target audiences, helping to deliver personalized content, improved awareness and engagement levels, and a higher customer acquisition rate.
2019 is going to be an exciting year, and as comms pros we can help our businesses and clients exceed their goals by embracing the innovations to come. Consider integrating non-traditional mediums in your comms plans, keep things personal, and always put the customer experience top of mind in everything you do. I guarantee you’ll be a leg up from the rest.
About the Author: Barbara is the Global CEO of Hotwire and the former founder and CEO of Eastwick Communications – which was acquired by Hotwire in 2016. She has more than 25 years’ experience working with brands to tell their stories, accelerate growth and build value working in Silicon Valley and beyond. Barbara has partnered with some of the world’s biggest technology brands as well as emerging leaders to create high-impact communication strategies and was named in Business Insider’s 2014 list of 50 Best Public Relations People in Tech and one of the Top 5 Women in PR by the PR World Awards. More recently, she has been recognized as one of San Francisco Bay Times’ Most Influential Women In Bay Area Business, one of the winners of CEO Today’s Business Women of the Year, and a finalist in Silicon Valley’s Women in IT Awards Series.