BRANDE : Website development

January 27, 2014

Learnings from ERE’s Creative Excellence Awards Webinar

Last month, Brandemixwas fortunate enough to co-host the CEA awards presentation, along with ERE Editor-in-Chief Todd Raphael.

The CEAs are an award program designed to recognize outstanding achievement in recruitment advertising and marketing. Each year, recruitment ad agencies and corporate recruiting departments from around the world enter their best creative advertising campaigns. Each entry is judged by a panel of the finest creative and professional talent from across the country, of which I was one.

As context for the awards ceremony, Todd and I did some research on 2014 recruiting trends, much of it already familiar to readers of ERE, particularly John Sullivan’s illuminating articles. In case you weren’t able to attend, here are some of the important learnings you might have missed.

·      Layoffs are at their lowest level since 2001.
·      Hiring is heating up.
More employees quit their jobs in October than in any other month since the recession of 2007-09.
In fact, according to Dice.com, 55% of hiring managers and recruiters plan to hire more professionals in the first half of 2014 than they did in the second half of 2013 – a jump of 9% from the same period one year ago and the highest level on record since Dice first posed the hiring question in mid-2010.

Other 2014 Trends
      Employer branding is considered the best long-term recruiting strategy, as recruiting looks more like marketing.
      “Apply with LinkedIn,” instead of a resume, is gaining acceptance.
       Employee referrals and social media are melding.
       The idea of attending college is changing, and thus college recruitment marketing is changing as well.
       A metric-driven employee referral program is becoming a dominant hiring source.
       Boomerangs are a primary target once again.
       Predictive metrics and the use of big data have moved from interesting to essential.
       The mobile platform continues to be a critical tool.
When McDonald’s launched its first mobile career site in 2008, three million people visited it and 24,000 people used it to submit applications. By 2012, those figures had jumped to 30 million visits and two million applications. Now, it brings in a little over 10% of total applications.

      Though Facebook recruiting is becoming a more significant part of the recruiting budget and a more accepted as a recruiting source, here’s a bit of advice: Keep your eyes on the next trend. Teen panelists of Ignition 2013 had these comments: 

 “I hate Facebook. It’s just so boring. Now I’m an Instagram user.

 “I used to scroll down Facebook and read every single status. Now I just love Vine.”

From the CEA submissions themselves I learned the following:

      Augmented reality is really here. The seamless process from ads to booths and banners with QR codes or other ways to connect with smart devices has made for a totally immersive recruitment experience.
       Website redesigns on the rise — in fact, there were more than 50 submissions this year. Flash is out, HTML is in, and content is king.
       As a words person, I am disappointed to see that copy is still a second-class citizen to creative. While people and pictures were front and center, copy and provocative headlines have not evolved as much.
       The link from employer brand research to uniquely branded creative is still missing a beat. Those of you looking for DIY branding have the research part down, but take my advice: Call in a professional to do the analysis and brand architecture.    

And finally, my favorite. There is more transparency and greater detail given about the hiring and selection process, from attraction through onboarding. That’s great, as recruiting comes out from behind the curtain.

Want to know more? Download the full presentation here.

June 6, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: The Best of Both Retail Worlds

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, explains how retailers can combine the best elements of online and in-store shopping for a great customer experience.

June 3, 2013

How Retailers Can Connect the Online and In-Store Experience

The great overlap has started.
In the last few months, the worlds have physical shopping and online shopping have collided. Walmart, the country’s biggest retailer, has increased its massive e-commerce effort, using its thousands of US locations as distribution points for same-day delivery. At the same time, Amazon, the country’s biggest online retailer, now ships items to “lockers,” physical kiosks which can be accessed at any time. With Amazon Lockers, Brand Channel has declaredAmazon’s strategy to distribute its products through traditional retail outlets is already underway.”
These retail giants are reacting to customer behavior. They know that customers want an online experience that’s connected to the in-store experience. So how can this strategy be implemented by specialty retailers? Here are some easy steps to get the best of both worlds.
Bringing Online Information to the Store
Price is not the only factor driving customers to online shopping. “Customers demand quick and easy access to relevant product information,” says Mark Brixton in Australia’s Power Retail blog. With turnover in the retail industry higher than ever, and employers unable to fully train their staff, many customers find that sales associates can’t help them make informed decisions about products.
The solution? Make your associates (and managers!) as knowledgeable as possible – even if it means “cheating.” At Best Buy, I once inquired about a camera, and the associate simply pulled out an iPad and looked at the Best Buy website with me, showing all the good reviews. It certainly was better than being told “I don’t know,” which makes me leave the store to find more information.
Another online feature that’s very effective is the recommendation engine: “People who bought X also bought Y.” Store associates can make those suggestions, of course, but there’s another option: reconfiguring your store so that items that are often bought together are actually displayed together.

Chico’s online recommendations
What about online customer recommendations? Brazilian clothier C&A has “special hooks on the racks in its bricks-and-mortar store” that display Facebook likes for each item of clothing in real time, “giving in-store shoppers a clear indication of each item’s online popularity.That technology may be a ways off for most of us, but that doesn’t stop you from putting a sign on an item that says, “Our most popular item on Facebook,” or “Our most pinned product on Pinterest.”
Bringing the Personal Store Experience Online
Jiadev Shergill, founder of Bundle.com, told a recent Internet Week New York panel, “Walking into a store and feeling the clothes, trying them on – this is a data point that you can’t get online.”
He recommends “product videos, multiple angles, more product measurement details, and real-world comparisons,” to simulate the in-store experience, making customers more comfortable with an item they can’t hold, use, or try on.
Many have us know at least one sales associate that has been helping us for years, who know lots of our personal details, and uses that information to help us shop. So why not ask for that information during online shopping? Asking for a birthday is expected, but you could also ask for more (optional) information, such as hobbies, favorite colors, or preferred brands. That allows you to offer exactly what the customer wants the next time they visit your online store.
This may seem obvious, but you should also make online returns as easy as in-store returns. Zappos led the way by making returns both free and hassle-free. Now many websites offer that service.

Zappos provides a video explaining how to return items.

Linking the Two Experiences Together
One good strategy is to keep a customer database that can be accessed by both your online store and your physical store. So when an online customer finally walks into your store, all they have to do is give their name or email address and a sales associate can look at their purchase history, preferences, and recommendations.
To the customer, your online store isn’t some separate entity, so if they’ve bought from your website five times, why should they be treated like a stranger when they finally pay your physical store a visit?
Most importantly, this entire philosophy is dependent on employees to deliver your brand experience. Whether you’ve been in the same location for 50 years or are a new internet startup, your brand has value. And it’s your employees who have the greatest power to make or break it. They’re the ones who shift your message from a concept to an experience – positive or negative. So whichever strategy you implement, make sure your employees can define your brand. If they can’t define it, they can’t deliver it.
I hope these ideas have helped you look at online shopping and physical shopping as two sides of the same coin, with each complementing the other. And if you’d like to create an online store – or refresh an old one – my agency, Brandemix, is happy to help.