There is a lot to consider when creating an e-commerce site. Do you know what platform best meets your needs? More importantly, do you know if you’re meeting the needs of your consumer in a world with multiple touchpoints?
Increasingly, we’re finding that more and more customers are doing their shopping online. Forrester expects e-commerce to reach $780 billion and represent 9.3% of total B2B in the U.S. this year. Our love affair with browsing endless pages of options and having products delivered to our doorstep is forcing businesses to rethink everything from marketing strategies to inventory control.
As we see more requests for e-commerce sites come through, we’ve had to adjust some of our thinking, as well. While user experience is first and foremost the most important aspect of any website, adding in options for making purchases requires a different strategy. We recognize and track trends to make sure our e-commerce sites are satisfying the needs of our client while providing a unique experience for their consumer.
According to Tech.co, look to these five 2015 trends for e-commerce focus this year:
- - User experience and customer service
- - Mobile is no longer just an option
- - Social media is becoming more influential
- - Same day delivery or faster
- - Thinning distinction between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar virtually disappearing
Understanding the experience of the user is critical
Marcin Malinowski, director of international services at Outbox, notes: “Customers have long been present online and are used to taking custom journeys through retail channels. Modern businesses are expected to provide them with a uniform and consistent experience, service, product descriptions and prices. They are also expected to keep up with latest developments in their markets, as disruptive technologies like Apple Pay shift the way customers like to make purchases. Understanding customer experience is essential, and will continue to be in 2015.”
Diversifying with Omni Channel
Omni Channel is reaching consumers wherever they are, on whatever device they may be using. As consumers use various platforms to shop—in-store or online—being accessible and creating an experience in all aspects is key.
Mobile shopping, or "m-commerce" as some call it, is growing, and growing fast! According to Google data, for much of the 2014 holiday season, mobile shopping clicks exceeded those on the desktop as shoppers made their purchase decisions on the go. And, people are no longer discriminating between mobile and desktop when it comes to shopping.
According to a Nielsen study, 84% of consumers are directly influenced by what their social network says about a product. Experts expect social commerce to ramp up in the coming months. Sales via social media are expected to represent 5% of online retail revenue, or $14 billion. Again, consumers are using all channels when shopping.
Delivery and crossing lines between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar
Designsensory Web Developer Stephan Zerambo touches on the importance of the user experience and delivery, “Obviously, since the goal is to get the site users to purchase the items, a bit of strategy to funnel them to the checkout is set in place. What's great about the recent Better Bushel site created by Designsensory is that there are some great assets and information, yet the products are peppered throughout those types of pages. One thing that sets this site apart from other e-commerce sites is that you choose a location to pick your items up.”
This approach allows the user to decide what products they want and where they would like to pick up their products, making for a more personalized experience. For other clients, we are continuing to bring the offline and online experiences together by coding to generate gift certificates that will be usable in the brick-and-mortar stores and, vice versa, the physically produced gift cards will be usable online.
E-commerce will only continue to grow, and the trends will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the consumer. Curious if you’re meeting the needs of your consumers? Designsensory can help with your e-commerce needs.
Breaking news! For the first time in Designsensory history, our work is going to be honored at the Volunteer Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s V Awards! This is also the first time we’ve entered, so it's very exciting for us.
Each spring, public relations practitioners in East Tennessee submit their work to be judged by their peers and celebrated at a fun evening event called the V Awards. Our local PRSA chapter is celebrating four decades of V Awards this year, and we’re happy to be a part of it.
We had so much work to be proud of in 2014 that it was difficult to narrow down our submissions. However, we decided to submit the following:
The V Awards will be held in downtown Knoxville at The Southern Depot at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 14. The event is open to the public, and tickets may be purchased by contacting the V Awards Chair Morgan Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll let you know how it goes. Wish us luck!
We are a visual society with a shrinking attention span. We love small doses of video that tug at our emotions. They make us laugh and cry, we relate and reminisce. These video snippets that are on websites and in our daily feeds are telling brand stories in snackable, shareable moment.
Do you have video in your latest marketing plan? Perhaps you should. The thing is, creating a video isn’t the hard part. It’s creating a video that tells your story in a way that is both engaging and shareable, that can be the challenge.
With strategic planning and determining how to evoke the right emotion in your target audience, video content can take your brand to a new level.
Does your budget have room for video?
Maybe the better question is, can you afford to not have it? According to a recent Aberdeen research, organizations using video require 37% fewer unique site visits to generate a marketing response.
Telling your brand story through video doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it’s more cost effective now than ever. Decades ago, traditional commercial and videos were much longer, but with the ever-shrinking attention span of today’s audience, the same message can be shared in a quicker, more cost-effective way. Setting goals on the front end—to determine your needs and how to maximize the video, b-roll and vignettes in a way that allows you to tell your brand story through multiple facets—will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Trending on social
Along with an uptick of shareable video content has come a shift in the way videos are performing on social media. According to new data from social media analytics company Socialbakers, photo posts are half as likely to be seen as are videos.
Looking at more than 670,000 posts by 4,445 brand pages (not including celebrity, entertainment or media pages) between October 2014 and February 2015, Socialbakers found that video posts had an organic reach of 8.71%, meaning that an average of nearly nine fans out of 100 see such posts. The reach was only 3.73% for photo posts, well below the results for text-only statuses (5.77%) and link posts (5.29%).
Taking it a step further with Advertainment
This is where advertising and entertainment collide. It’s utilizing various forms of entertainment to promote a product or brand. It’s going beyond the traditional 30- or 60-second commercial and using other creative ways to promote a brand. Today, we see brands everywhere. It’s not always obvious, but they are there. We see products through content sponsorship, product placement, branded short-form, performance and participatory art, episodic narrative and even cinematic long-form.
At Designsensory, we believe in telling our client’s brand story in a way that intrigues, entertains and delights. How will you tell your brand story?
When Designsensory began working with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on the concept for a new television show, we wanted to a look at current trends as well as the needs of viewers. With the rise of “reality” entertainment, the digital and mobile explosion, and rise of social and content-sharing networks, it was evident that viewers' needs have evolved.
Tennessee Wildside, TWRA’s previous show, was a variety show in the traditional sense. Behavioral trends showed a rise in outdoor leisure activities versus traditional hook and bullet activities. It was evident that Tennessee Uncharted needed to extend the brand by showcasing what the Tennessee outdoors had to offer through hunting, fishing, and the gamut of recreation, but with the emphasis on outdoors adventure.
We also know there is more competition today when it comes to brand exposure, and engaging video is more important than ever. The new show would engage viewers by making them feel as though they are experiencing the action, with viewers becoming part of the show. What set Tennessee Uncharted apart from Wildside was that the show wasn’t about simply showing . . . but doing. Tennessee Uncharted tells the story through actual hands-on experiences.
In Season 1, the crew edited 16 episodes, running 26:47 in length, filmed in high definition, and they shot endless hours of beautiful video content and interviews. When edited, the additional footage provided snackable videos to be shared through social channels and websites, creating awareness for the show, TWRA, Tennessee tourism, and all involved.
PBS digital channels across Tennessee aired Season 1. In addition to the traditional television broadcast of Tennessee Uncharted, it could also be seen online via www.tnuncharted.com, Tennessee Uncharted YouTube channel, East Tennessee PBS app on smartphones, Apple TV, Roku box, Amazon Fire and Xbox.
As an extension of each episode, the Designsensory public relations team was able to share behind-the-scenes images, vignettes and teasers on Tennessee Uncharted social channels. Providing shareable video and imagery maximized exposure and shares each week. This contributed to the increase in views, ultimately leading to the show’s popularity and success.
In just over four months, the Tennessee Uncharted crew has a strong social media presence and following. To date, Tennessee Uncharted has 242 subscribers and more than 24,600 views on YouTube, 1,884 Facebook fans, 247 Instagram followers and 128 followers on Twitter.
The Tennessee Uncharted crew is well underway with Season 2. Their work brings more ways to promote Tennessee’s uncharted territories and more creative ways to enjoy those recreational opportunities.
Want to know more about how video content can extend your brand? Check out this month's Utilize.
Each year, Designsensory provides college students an opportunity to develop their skills with internships dedicated to giving the best experiences possible in an agency setting. Interns Alex Hunt, Greg Simpson and Alyssa Garbien are currently with us for the spring semester.
Alex, research and strategy intern from Morristown, TN, is a senior at the University of Tennessee and will graduate with a bachelor's in advertising and with minors in business and psychology. When Alex isn’t at the office, she plays intramural soccer and is learning fun things to cook at home, such as zucchini and pita pizzas. Alex likes that Designsensory is a small, tight-knit group. She thoroughly enjoys the freedom she has to learn more about the advertising industry and the experiences she is getting in the field.
“Advertising is constantly evolving and becoming more effective and efficient," says Alex. "It keeps you on your toes. If you want to stay current in this industry, you have to always be learning, reading and adapting.”
In the future, she wants to work where she can enjoy the type of work that she is doing now.
Greg is a web developer intern from Bristol, VA, and a senior in computer science at UT. Greg is not only a huge Game of Thrones fan but enjoys working on cars, attending shows and spending time playing video games to unwind. Greg likes the friendliness of Designsensory staffers and their passion for what they do. He feels good about the staff's helpful approach and has a deep appreciation for the support shown him by team members Michael Pryfogle and Ian Fitz.
“I love working with software because of all the unique challenges and problems I get to solve," Greg observes. “It keeps my brain busy and lets me be creative in how I go about approaching a problem and finding the solution.”
Greg is most interested in a job in software development engineering and architecting, but his overall goal is to work with a great team to collaborate on ideas.
Alyssa is a public relations and strategy intern from Shelton, CT. She is a senior at UT, pursuing a degree in communication studies. Alyssa enjoys hiking, attending concerts, the ocean, traveling, and playing board and card games. Alyssa likes the diverse range of clients and projects at Designsensory.
“I absolutely love the public relations side because of how creative you get to be," Alyssa says. “It gives me a good feeling to know that I just helped a company or organization grow, even if what I contributed was a minor task.”
She likes working in an agency because she enjoys the close relationships the employees have with one another. In the future, she hopes to work in an agency and be involved with a nonprofit organization.
Is a DS internship for you?
Designsensory offers competitive internships to provide hands-on experience in graphic design, web development, strategy and public relations. If you are interested in working with us, take a look at our internships page. We will hire another batch of interns for the summer. We look forward to hearing from you!
Here, at Designsensory, we believe in the power of campaigns that are inclusive of all audiences, with creative that is reflective and welcoming, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or ability. Our Brand Strategist Josh Loebner writes a blog on advertising and disability, and we’d like to share his recent post on disability, inclusion and the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLIX was a historic event for so many reasons. This includes advertising and disability taking center stage in, what I would consider, the best ads of the evening. The title of this post comes from the hashtags of Toyota’s and Microsoft’s campaigns and, combined, share exactly what each brand’s chief marketing officer and agency creative director did when they made the decision to be inclusive. One bold choice is empowering.
One of Microsoft's 2015 Super Bowl spots focused on "empowering us all." Microsoft’s description on YouTube shares, "Born missing the tibia and fibula bones in both of his legs, six-year-old Braylon O’Neill is now thriving and playing sports with the help of Microsoft technology.
I've been a huge fan of Amy Purdy’s for several years. If you read my blog, you’ve seen her in several earlier posts. Toyota’s YouTube commentary shares, “Amy Purdy triumphs to the iconic words of Muhammad Ali. To save her life, her dad had to make some life-changing decisions. She then went on to win a medal in Sochi and dance in front of millions. Nothing can stop Amy Purdy."
According to USA Today’s Ad Meter, “Paralympian Amy Purdy stars in this Toyota Camry commercial that is sure to get you fired up. The minute-long spot, which will air during the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIX, chronicles a typical day for the bronze medal-winning snowboarder/author/Dancing With the Stars contestant. (In reality, it’s anything but typical.)
"It feels like a great training montage from a sports movie. What makes the ad even better is the voice in the background. Saatchi & Saatchi, creative agency for the ad, used a snippet of a speech by Muhammad Ali for the narrative. Leading up to his fight against the heavily favored George Foreman in 1974, Ali delivered the short soliloquy during a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.”
Having no depth perception, I was always a bit timid to try out team sports and definitely never considered football. But, being in advertising, there’s a whole different game played out during the Super Bowl that draws me in. For those in the advertising industry reading this post, what one bold choice can you make that is empowering?
You’re writing an RFP for a new website. How do you know that your RFP has the right information to get the website you want?
The Designsensory business development group receives 15 to 20 RFPs every month—good, bad, average and ugly. To help you get the website you need, we’ve put together a few tips on what (and what not) to put in your RFP.
Before you get started, take a look online at best practices for web RFPs. Put together a clear, concise, unambiguous document that tells us what you have, what you need, how to set up the proposal, how you will score it, your deadline and your budget.
We don't use floppy disks
Do review your RFP carefully for conflicting or out-of-date information. Especially if you are reusing an old RFP, please go through it with a fine-tooth comb. We can’t quote your project accurately if you reference outdated technology or provide contradictory instructions.
DO identify a contact person, not a department, and the format in which we’re to submit. If you give us both an email address and a mailing address, please clarify which way to send our response. We always prefer to send digitally, when possible.
DO allow us to ask questions. You can tell a lot about companies by the questions they ask—or fail to ask.
DON’T start this process without a budget. It’s a waste of your time to list things you want but can’t afford. We can usually create a workable website within your budget, but it may require compromises.
NOT a thesis
Too much information, such as a company overview or paperwork that goes on for pages, can distract from the important points you’re trying to make. Tell us, in a couple of paragraphs:
- Who you are and what you do
- Who your audience is
- Why you want a new website
- What you want your website to do for you
DO be clear and concise. Instead of jargon and lofty language, tell us plainly why you want a new site. Has your business grown? Have you added new products? Do you need to add functionality?
“The objectives we see are often too vague to be helpful,” says DS technical writer Chris Cable. Be specific. Do you need to boost sales, reach a new audience or add e-commerce? “Tell us that,” Chris adds, “and we can help you figure out how.”
You can't always get what you want
To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, be flexible about what you think you want and you’ll be more likely to get what you need. Be prepared for things to change from your original expectation.
DO listen to advice. After all, you’re writing an RFP because you want professional help. Give us the requirements, but be open to suggestions and conversation. Every day, we develop websites that perform. At times, we have helpful ideas that you may not have considered.
What you have vs. what you want
You don’t have to spend time writing reams of technical information. Simply be specific about the tech requests you have. Our goal is to provide a site that perfectly matches your needs.
DO tell us the changes in functions you require, what you need to add, as well as what you have but don’t like.
Do list your third-party integrations, such as e-commerce platforms. Do you like what you have? Or, do you need something better?
DO tell us what’s wrong with your current site. For example, maybe your site map is too convoluted, or you have features you don’t need.
DO ask questions about our process and understand what would constitute a change in scope for your project.
DO include a proposed site map, if you have one. Even a tentative site map shows us the complexity of the project and tells us, for example, whether you would be better served by one big site or a group of microsites. We scope the project based on the functionality and size of your current site as well as additional requirements that you provide.
After the RFP party
You put a lot of time and thought into getting this far. But choosing the right web development company doesn’t mean your work is over. Any misunderstandings about the process usually occur after the contract is signed and the work has begun.
DO review the line items in your contract that establish approval processes, timelines and other expectations. If you think you’ll need options for extra revisions or additional work not in the RFP, let us know so we can work out a plan to address those issues before they arise.
DO include an in-person presentation opportunity, when possible. You might be convinced that a company can build a great website, but few companies actually have the skill sets needed to build a complex website.
Paying attention to details can prevent missed deadlines, budget overruns and other unhappiness along the way.
We strive to create websites that meet our clients' needs, but we know that every client has different priorities. State clearly in your RFP what will drive your decision, and you're more likely to find a compatible web partner. For example, if your priority is a less expensive, templated site, knowing this early in the process will allow us to provide appropriate pricing and direction to you from the outset. If, however, you want to build a relationship with a company that can advise you on multiple aspects of your communication strategy, we will engage all departments of our team in order to provide a more robust plan of action.
Updated March 5, 2015
On Saturday, February 28th, several DSers walked across the stage at the Downtown Hilton Hotel in Knoxville to pick up ADDY Awards for the past year's work. In addition to winning recognition for ALL of our entries, DS Strategist Josh Loebner was inducted into the Knoxville Advertising Hall of Fame. Congratulations Josh!
- Gold ADDY Awards
- - Brochure. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development: Made in America. Mastered in Tennessee.
- - Pitchbook. Blount Partnership Economic Development: Bring Stone to Blount County
- - Website. Sugarlands Distilling Company
- - Logo, website, logo animation. Boy Scouts of America: STEM Scouts
- - Website. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development: TNVacation.com
- - App. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture: Pick Tennessee
- - Brochure. Designsensory: Promotional
- - Title sequence. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: Tennessee Uncharted
- Silver ADDY Awards
- - Brochure. The Tennessee Fund: Membership guide
- - Website. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development
- - Website. The Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission
- - Website. Knoxville Central Business Improvement District
- - Video campaign. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development: TNVacation.com
- - Campaign and TV spots (30- and 60-seconds). Boy Scouts of America: STEM Scouts
- - Campaign and gala program. The Medal of Honor: Knoxville Convention
- - Website and poster series: The Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games
- - Campaign: Goodwill Industries of Knoxville: Vintage
- - Stationary package. Designsensory
- - Brand identity. Sugarlands Distilling Company
- - Brand identity. Better Bushel
- - Logo. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: Tennessee Uncharted
- Bronze Citations of Excellence
- - Campaign. Tennessee Tech University: Community Day
- - Campaign and logo. The Legacy Centre: EntreVision
- - Print campaign. BASI Pilates: Greatness
- - Campaign. PetSafe: Fountain
- - Campaign. A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of Tennessee: Rock the Cradle
"I was very proud to see the amount of entries that received gold and silver awards," said Creative Director Joseph Nother. Our ratio of gold and silver awards to total entries was the best of the evening. Our STEM Scouts Logo Animation also won a Special Judges Award.
We want to give special thanks to our local AAF (American Advertising Federation) chapter—and especially the ADDY Awards Committee—for the hard work invested in showcasing Knoxville’s creative talent. We’re also proud of our very own Sarah Loebner for chairing the committee.
The Knoxville ADDY Awards is the first tier of the three-tiered National ADDY Awards, the advertising industry’s largest recognition of creative excellence. Founded in 1959, the American Advertising Federation of Knoxville is a professional organization that promotes excellence and awareness of advertising in the greater Knoxville area.
For more information on this year’s festivities, see www.knoxville50th.com. If the design looks familiar, that would be because Designsensory donated the creative. Sarah designed the site and elements, and Joseph designed the 50th Anniversary mark.
Content marketing continues to dominate in 2015. It seems that lots of people missed that memo. In fact, issues we regularly face with clients indicate that few people outside the marketing world even know what content marketing is. And, content strategy? They've never heard of it. So, let's take a look at some common client questions.
What is content, anyway?
Isn’t content just a few words on a few pages? Actually, "we'll be providing our own content" may be the undoing of the thought and hard work you put into your shiny new website or your latest marketing brochure.
Prateek Sarkar, creative director for the Walt Disney Company, has said, “Content is story. And content strategy is storytelling.” So, listen up. After all, who knows how to tell a story better than Disney?
What’s wrong with our old content?
Perhaps nothing. For example, evergreen content, such as great white papers, is content that stays relevant and can establish you as a thought leader in your field. However, the world changes fast. So does language and the way we use it. And, people don’t buy the same way they did five years ago. With millions of websites competing with yours, you need fresh content to capture and inspire your audience and a strong strategy to sustain audience interest.
Where do I start?
To tell your story in a way that resonates with readers and pays off at the bank, you have to ask the right questions and set the right priorities.
Margot Bloomstein, in her book Content Strategy at Work, writes, “Prioritization means holding your work and efforts accountable to a bigger plan, a sort of raison d’etre: why this and why now?”
- Why are we doing this website/video/social media plan?
- Who are we trying to reach? (HINT: “Everybody” is not the correct answer.)
- What are we trying to communicate? What is the heart of our story?
- What do we want our intended audience to do?
How do I create good content?
Paul Grice, a linguist known for studying how people communicate, developed four maxims for conversation—a good place to start when you evaluate current or new content.
The short version: Give readers content that is appropriate in quality, quantity, relevance and clarity.
Know your audience’s needs and tell them what they need to know, not what you want them to know. Speak to them in language and tone they understand.
Although Paul Grice didn’t ask me—from an editor’s point of view—I would add consistency to the list. From staying on brand to correctly employing all those pesky commas and apostrophes, errors and inconsistencies can confuse readers and redirect their focus in a negative way.
Why isn’t our SEO better? Or "Shhh! Don’t tell anybody."
Your Search Engine Optimization depends on good content, thoughtfully written, organized for ease of use, with appropriate links. Cram a lot of keywords into every paragraph, and Google will punish you. “Borrow” from other websites, and, yes, Google will punish you.
One of the most common, and most counterproductive, mistakes we see is burying information deep within the site. Again, Google will punish you. Some clients are strangely shy, even secretive, about what they do. “We sell widgets, but we don’t want those words on the main page. Let’s get people deeper in the site before we start selling them.”
The bad news is twofold:
1. They won't get deeper into the site if you don't give them a reason to go there.
2. It doesn’t matter if you sell the most righteous widgets on the planet, nobody will buy yours if you don't talk about them.
Give them information up front. If your FAQs page is one of your most frequently visited areas, chances are good that you aren’t giving readers adequate information when they first visit your website.
Above all, make it easy for potential customers to know what you do and why they should give you their business and their money. To do that, you need a marriage of great design, great content and the right medium for the right audience.