TECHNOLOGY

Vitamin Shoppe expands access to its subscription service

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Vitamin Shoppe wants more customers to become members of its subscription service.

The retailer’s product subscription program, called Spark Auto Delivery, features automated replenishment of customers’ favorite wellness items, as well as new product samples. By partnering with OrderGroove, Vitamin Shoppe is making it easier for customers to sign up for the service.

OrderGroove’s platform will enable users to enroll in Spark at any of the chain’s 775 stores. Those who enroll will receive tailored offers through the “VShoppe” mobile application, and can also stay abreast of their membership via text messages and online, according to Vitamin Shoppe.

In addition to being a scalable platform, OrderGroove will also give Vitamin Shoppe access into data-driven insights — information that will help the retailer learn more about its customers’ buying behavior, and create innovative customer experiences.

“OrderGroove is helping us activate valuable customer data in our CRM, e-commerce and point-of-sale platforms to create increased loyalty and engagement among customers enrolled in the Spark program,” said John Hnanicek, senior VP and chief customer innovation & technology officer at Vitamin Shoppe.

In addition to receiving personalized merchandise, Spark Auto Delivery subscribers also receive 10% off of more than 1,000 participating products, double Healthy Awards points, and free shipping in the continental United States. Customers can choose their own product shipping schedule.

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TECHNOLOGY

Discount giant banks on recipe video app to drive online orders

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart has a “Tasty” new way to reach online shoppers — especially those among the millennial generation.

Starting Thursday, customers watching videos on BuzzFeed’s Tasty recipe video app will now see direct links to the kitchen tools, bakeware, and appliances — from a slow cooker or a nonstick pan to measuring cups —needed to create a dish. All merchandise, which is supplied by Walmart and its online arm, jet.com, can be ordered directly through the social media app.

Here’s how it works: While watching a video, users can scroll down to see the tools needed to prepare the meal. Viewers simply hit “add to cart,” and place their online order through Tasty. Merchandise is delivered by Walmart.

The discounter is already planning to expand the service early next year with the addition of groceries, and the option to use its online grocery pickup to retrieve orders, according to Walmart.

The partnership gives Walmart exposure to a vast customer base — the recipe app has more than 65 billion video views and is the biggest franchise on Facebook with over 90 million followers. It is also a “go-to” destination for recipe inspiration among millennials — which is natural extension of Jet’s target audience, Walmart said.

This is also the first time that Walmart and Jet are coming together for an exclusive partnership with a media outlet, according to Business Insider.

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TECHNOLOGY

Taking Social Media Marketing to the Next Level

BY Patrick Kuehn and Daniel Ripes

Social media is so ingrained in today’s culture that we forget Facebook is already a teenager, while Snapchat has just graduated preschool. Other social media — including LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp — have joined them to gain an impressive user base. In the second quarter of 2017 alone, 110 million people started using social media for the first time, increasing total users to 2.9 billion globally.

Beyond their initial role as vehicles for communication and social expression, however, each social media application has also become a revenue-producing engine. And marketers have been eager to pay for access to a social media audience that is not only growing quickly, but is enriched with data that enables targeting around individuals’ likes and dislikes, demography, affinities, buying behaviors and much more.

Even setting audience growth aside, Facebook could be considered the greatest data management platform ever built, because its users self-declare demographic and psychographic information on a daily basis. Every Facebook “like” and “follow” represents extremely powerful third-party data for brands to harness.

The impact of social media on top line sales is undeniable. A recent study shows that social media is now the primary driver of all website referral traffic. U.S. social commerce sales — purchases made directly from social media posts — grew from $3 billion in 2012 to $14 billion in 2015. The most up-to-date marketers are riding the wave, spending $31 billion on social media ads in 2016 — nearly double what they spent just two years ago. And while Facebook continues to dominate the space, all social media platforms are advancing monetization strategies around their expansive user bases.

Most marketing executives have been scratching their heads as to how to take social media to the next level and show a measurable return on investment in it. Indeed, only 16.3% of CMOs report having the ability to quantitatively show the impact of social media on their business; in a seeming contradiction, they expect to expand social media spend by 89% in the next five years.

We’re now at that Holy Grail point where with social media, marketers can gain a measure of offline return on ad spend by taking sales data and matching it within Facebook to determine whether a product was purchased by someone who had seen an ad. And where POS data isn’t available, geo-based targeting and tracking is an alternative optimization strategy. This scenario drives people toward in-store coupons pages, for example using geo-fencing to measure “directions to the store” page visits.

We’d like to share some additional ways marketers can optimize their return on the investment they make in social media.

Targeting
An important recent innovation in marketers’ use of social media has been the ability to allow first-party data to be easily and inexpensively ingested in multiple ways. Examples of this capability include Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Twitter’s Tailored Audiences, and Snapchat’s Snap Audience Match. It is possible to align campaign objectives by audience within these platforms, either by using offer ads to reintroduce a brand to audiences who have not made a purchase in the last 6 to 12 months, or by introducing new products and increasing purchase frequency with dynamic product ads. Targeting has thus reached a level of granularity that is producing better results for every dollar spent.

A logical next step for marketers using social media for targeting is lookalike audiences — that is, prospects that have many similar attributes to your top customers. Lookalike targeting isn’t a new concept — all platforms have their own methods of reaching “similar audiences” — but none of them seems to have extrapolated to having insights about the modeling and what is behind it. Rather than relying on one platform, marketers might consider leveraging a social ad-tech solution such as 4C Insights.

There are two reasons why this is a good idea. First, there is no certainty that first-party audiences will match demographically with lookalike audiences, since factors such as age, gender and location may be equally weighted among likes and interests within the algorithms. Second, and more obviously, the platforms will sometimes inflate the cost-per-impressions on their lookalike audiences.

Brands need to make sure that they have the Facebook pixel installed on their website — something that may seem obvious, but in fact many sites don’t have this tracking code properly integrated. Facebook’s remarketing pixel can help target all site visitors for up to 180 days at a granular level, giving brands a leg up in their targeting efforts.

Measurement
Even with today’s data-driven approach to marketing, many brands are still using outmoded performance measures such as shares and likes, which do not translate into return on investment. Now there are ways to report on actual business goals achieved through social ad spend — typically sales and/or in-store visitors. Measuring offline conversions within the social media platforms is relatively straightforward as long as analytics and tracking have been properly implemented and maintained.

As mentioned above, Facebook and other platforms now allow marketers to connect offline transactions and events to their digital media efforts, providing a more objective measure of offline return on ad spend.

The importance and evolution of the social media platforms is nearly unparalleled in digital marketing. Until very recent years, businesses used social networks only to communicate to audiences that already knew them, or that may have been liked or shared by that audience. With this new ability to ingest first-party data for targeting and measurement, brands can now reach current customers, and find new ones, more often. This, combined with the fact that social media is driving more direct sales, makes it almost a certainty that the power of social platforms will only continue to increase and multiply.

Patrick Kuehn is senior VP, Sales and Marketing at ObjectWave Corp., a full-service provider of digital commerce solutions ([email protected]).

Daniel Ripes is VP of global partnerships at Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency specializing in digital media, analytics, and customer experience ([email protected]).

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