Break for the Borders
Book retailer Borders has become the latest retailer to use social media marketing. New Media Knowledge spoke to industry players about how this sector can gain from a conversational approach.
Borders has made its first foray into social media marketing in a bid to extend its brand, increase traffic to its website and build brand loyalty. Word-of-mouth recommendation is a key element of the programme.
Digital agency Hyperlaunch is behind the three-month campaign and hopes to create a network of influential literary bloggers across a number of social networks. Customers will be targeted with incentives such as money-off vouchers and access to exclusive content, including author interviews and podcasts.
Borders’ digital marketing manager, Nick Atkinson, is quoted as saying: “Community building is an integral part of the marketing strategy behind building and retaining the customer base. By implementing structured viral marketing campaigns, consumer advocacy programmes and creating an effective brand presence across the social networking arena, we feel we are able to engage with our customers on a really personal level.”
Stephen Davies is managing director of online PR consultancy 3W PR, which helps firms communicate more effectively online. Davies told NMK that by taking a more personal approach with its customers and by mixing the ‘old media’ of books with new environment of social media, Borders’ initiative was an interesting offer, but that the company needed to work harder to attract customers.
“In a world where time is a valuable commodity, the proposed incentives by the company aren't that inspiring, particularly the price discount,” he said. “One only has to look on Amazon to find most of the books on the website can already be bought for considerably cheaper than the recommended retail price; which, no doubt, most online book lovers already know.
“If Borders gave bloggers access to book authors then that, to me, would be much more of an eye-catching proposition, and one that would really add value to the people they're trying to engage with. That said, full praise to Borders for taking advantage of the online landscape by being more personal with its key audiences in its marketing efforts,” he added
For Jouko Ahvenainen, founder and Chief Strategy Officer of social advertising intelligence firm Xtract, the subtlety of word-of-mouth marketing will be the key to success for Borders.
“Research suggests that 65 to 70 per cent of all purchase decisions are made via word-of-mouth endorsement. Digital means, including social media, have only made these transactions easier to come by,” he said.
“Human beings are a 'we' species. We have an innate need to connect and communicate. That is why there are 100 million people on YouTube and is also the basis for any social media marketing strategy. The question shouldn't be whether to go after a social media strategy, but in the very creative ways it will be implemented by the minds of the high street,” Ahvenainen concluded.
The Web is becoming an increasingly competitive landscape for retail. Online retail sales rose 14 per cent on 8 December compared to the same day in 2007, and £320 million was spent. Proactive online lead generation is another online sales tactic which has provided a major boost to catalogue retailers in the run-up to Christmas, according to digital marketing firm Clash-Media. The company has created campaigns for high street brands including Bravissimo and Littlewords Direct.
“Proactive online lead generation can act as a very cost-effective and powerful distribution model for various organisations and we are noticing that more and more catalogue companies are benefiting from adding this new strategy into their marketing mix," said Luke Pursey, UK Managing Director, Clash-Media.
Pursey said that performance-based marketing is coming to the forefront in current market conditions as marketing managers need to prove return on investment from any initiatives that they undertake.
“Traditional direct mailing campaigns have often been criticised for wasting both time and money, as well as not being seen as the most ‘green’ approach,” he added. “Proactive online lead generation is targeted, can be switched on or off quickly and can provide a significant and important boost to any campaign. This performance-driven approach enables retailers to drive seasonal sales.”