Planning a Tablet Commerce Strategy

Mar 02, 2012 6:13 AM  By

When you formulate your tablet strategy, you really need to think of a tablet as an integral part of your multichannel marketing strategy.

First, you need to understand how tablets are used in your customers’ buying cycles, and which demographics have the highest tablet usage. Studies show that tablet usage is highest at home on weekdays during the eve­ning, prime-time hours. That is a very telling statistic for those who buy television ads.

Second, you need to better understand the role of tablets in your media mix. Your customers are con­suming media across the four screens—television, PC, mobile and tablet—and expect a seamless experience when switching devices.

The number-one issue with cross-channel cam­paigns is that the focus is put on converting a prospect immediately. For example, the focus for an infomercial is getting the viewer to dial that 1-800 number. I am not saying this strategy is misplaced, it’s just outdated.

Traditional direct campaigns need to adjust to opti­mize across emerging devices in a multichannel envi­ronment. Marketers are remiss to ignore the reality that consumers are using multiple channels to verify information and become better informed before making most significant purchasing decisions.

In my opinion, not enough thought is given to understanding, measuring and effectively capitalizing on the “digital spillover”—i.e., when your customers are engaging with your brand through digital media chan­nels as a result of being exposed to a traditional adver­tisement. When you place an ad on television or send a catalog, do you have all the digital channels aligned to provide a seamless experience when your customers are interested in buying from you on their tablets?

Below are the six key strategic considerations when plan­ning a tablet strategy for your cross-channel campaigns:

1. Apps vs. websites
If your focus is direct response, a tablet-optimized website is your best bet. Apps are great to engage and build brand loyalists, but they are not as effective in pushing shopping cart orders. Make sure your website is optimized for tablets so that you provide an effective experience to consumers engaging with your brand on tablet devices.

2. Shopping cart optimization
If you are running a cross-channel cam­paign and your payment processing is not optimized for tablets, your prospects will be dropping out of the conversion funnel before they get to the “sub­mit” button. Have you ever tried to fill out your credit card information on your iPad while interacting with a website that is not optimized for tablets? It is a painful experience, and your prospects often don’t have a mag­nifying glass handy to complete the order. If your goal is selling, be serious about your digital storefront when your customers want to buy from you on their tablets.

3. Conversion path strategy
Keep in mind that tablets enable you to close the deal without requiring your prospects to switch devices. Make sure your tablet-optimized website is designed to convert—from effective copyrighting and site navi­gation to a tablet-optimized shopping cart solution. Offering live chat is a smart move that will help you increase your conversion rate.

4. Measure and learn
Make sure you utilize advanced reporting features in your website analytics tools (such as Omniture and Google Analytics). You should segment your audience by device and analyze website traffic coming from tab­lets. Track metrics such as the keywords users searched to find your website, the times of day you see increased traffic coming from tablets, the average time spent on your website, your bounce rate, etc. You should be able to identify the key trends that are specific to tablet users and then turn this data into insights that will enable you to optimize your website for better tablet engagement.

5. Tablet marketing
Once you put up a great, tablet-optimized website, you should also identify the most effective tablet marketing tactics that will allow you to generate incremental tablet traffic. The most frequent tablet activities that your con­sumers spend time on are entertainment, email, search and gaming. You should align your tablet marketing tactics with those key activities.

Search engine marketing is a very effective tablet marketing channel, and Google Adwords now allows you to create tablet-specific campaigns that you can use for testing different keywords and ad copy variations. For banner ads, you should engage only in HTML5 ad formats that are more engaging and will provide you with a better return on your investment.

6. Multichannel integration
Last, your tablet strategy needs to be integrated across all of your marketing channels. Multichannel integra­tion is a key component of an effective tablet market­ing program. If you create synergies among the four screens (PC, TV, mobile, Tablet), you will be able to drive a seamless engagement through the entire pur­chase funnel—and increase your profit incrementally.

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Matthew Capala is managing partner at digital marketing agency Mixed Digital.

Fairytale Brownies Taps Into Tablets

This past holiday season, Fairytale Brownies went live with its first catalog app on Catalog Spree, Coffee Table, Google Catalogs and Catalogue by The Find.

But did Fairytale Brownies spread itself too thin? Cofounder David Kravetz says no.

“The upside to these apps is that you’re more likely to be seen by prospects, so the focus is on new customer acquisition,” Kravetz says.

But there’s a downside: You’re shown right alongside your competition, so there is a concern about promoting these apps on their own, Kravetz says.

Just to jump in the game, Fairytale Brownies imple­mented an exact replica of its print catalog on tablets. But, says Kravetz, one of the problems it encountered is that the print is too small to read—although all the catalog apps it is part of use some sort of magnification feature to deal with this.

Ultimately, Kravetz says, the tablet will have oppor­tunities to incorporate features that cannot be as easily accomplished in print. Kravetz believes merchants should be part of an app like The Find or Google Catalog, but also have a standalone app.

Since tablet commerce has just begun began for Fairytale Brownies, Kravetz says the company will have to wait a year for usable sales figures to be generated because an “insignificant” number of orders came in via the tablet in 2011.

Even if a desktop site renders well on a tablet, Kravetz believes you still need to consider an app.

“I think that, ultimately, the app will give us the oppor­tunity to create a more fluid and enjoyable user experi­ence,” Kravetz says. “The use of finger swipes and gestures will eventually replace the mouse, and the app should take full advantage of that.”

Screen size is also a concern: Its site looks decent on a 9.7-inch iPad screen, but not so great on a 7-inch Kindle Fire, and terrible on a 3.5-inch iPhone, Kravetz says.

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Staples Starts its Tablet Strategy

Office supplies merchant Staples launched its tablet-optimized website in January.

Brian Tilzer, the company’s vice president of ecommerce, says its first priority was to make sure all of its ecommerce interfaces were designed with the goal of making shopping as easy as possible for its small-business customers.

For example, Tilzer says his team took its weekly ad and turned it into a catalog that can be easily sorted, swiped and read.

“All companies’ tablet offerings should have the same look and feel as their print catalogs for consistency,” Tilzer says. “If merchants just make it a carbon copy of their print catalog, they’re not really taking advantage of the capabilities of the medium.”

Tilzer says Staples’ analytics show its customers are using tablets more as a purchasing tool and less for research, unlike a smartphone. So certain features that lend themselves to an app, like having your purchase data with you, aren’t as important for a tablet.

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Wait Till Next Year

2012 is not the Year of Tablet Commerce in Gordon Magee’s world.

2013? Maybe. But Magee, the Internet marketing and media manager for Drs. Foster and Smith, says there isn’t a blueprint for tablet commerce amid “all the hype and anxiety” about the need to tap into mobile.

“As with everything that comes down the pike, there is a healthier and more rational phase that comes along after the breathless excitement phase calms down,” Magee says.

Social media has a lot to do with Magee’s wait-and-see approach. He says that six years ago, when the ecommerce world started talking about Web 2.0, many merchants jumped into social without having a clear picture. And the merchants who were early-adopters of social media were not at a better advantage than those who waited a while.

It’s clear, however, that Magee is doing his homework on tablet commerce. And he’s determined that digital cata­logs make the most sense. Digital catalogs may not have made sense in traditional ecommerce, but the touchscreen technology employed by iPads, Kindles and the like make them very practical for tablets.

Magee says the evolution of the Nook and Kindle e-readers into web-ready tablets also helps: People like reading books on those devices, and that translates into digital catalog success.

“Digital catalogs may well be the way that a significant number of people choose to receive their catalogs in the future, thus saving catalogers money in the long run,” Magee says.

But right now, since Drsfostersmith.com renders will on a tablet, Magee says there’s no reason for his company to optimize for those devices.

“The other thought is that because of the touch screen capabilities of a tablet (vs. a desktop computer), there may be some cool things that can be done to make the website experience fun for the cus­tomer as well as profitable for the retailer,” Magee says.

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Moosejaw is all-in with tablet commerce

When it comes to tablet commerce, Moosejaw Mountaineering is all-in.

Gary Wohlfeill, creative director at Moosejaw Mountaineering, realizes how important it is for mer­chants to take full advantage of the surge of tablet commerce.

“We see a dramatic increase in traffic coming from iPads on the weekends—and you can tell that shopping while hanging out at home on the couch is becoming a hobby for a lot of people,” Wohlfeill says.

A tablet catalog gives you the opportunity to add a media rich experience, Wohlfeill says, whether it’s product videos or additional pages not in the print version. Also, in Moosejaw’s iPad catalog, the hot spots “glow” for a moment when you first reach a new page, Wohlfeill says.

“[The iPad version] is a great space to play with for showing customers something new,” Wohlfeill says. “It also gives them a reason to view the tablet version even if they’ve received the print version.”

Moosejaw also has its digital version available as a part of the Google Catalogs, Catalog Spree and Coffee Table iPad apps. Wohlfeill explains that since his company puts a lot of effort and creativity into its catalogs, it wants the digital version in front of as many eyes as possible.

In November, Moosejaw released an app for Androids and iPhones, called X-Ray, for customers to use with the print and digital catalogs. The app uses augmented real­ity technology that allows users to see a “hidden layer” of images in the pages of the catalog.

With the release of the X-Ray app, Moosejaw produced a video to show downloaders how to use it.

“We made sure the message was simple and used a video to quickly demonstrate the value the X-Ray app would add,” Wohlfeill says. “It worked extremely well, and we had 100,000 downloads in the first 45 days.”

As for its ecommerce site, Wohlfeill says they have customized their CSS so tablet users across different plat­forms can have an optimized viewing experience.

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