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Why bother too much with your Web site if you are a packaged-goods marketer who doesn't sell much, if any, online? Ask Procter & Gamble and Unilever about how they connect with consumers willing and motivated to engage with their brands....


According to comScore Media Metrix, and as reported by Jack Neff in an Ad Age article yesterday, while low-cost, low-involvement brands tend not to generate much search, "...the Web sites of P&G and Unilever now reach nearly 6 million and 3 million unique visitors, respectively, in the U.S. each month."
And, those visitors are uniquely influential -- in their blogging and email feedback-ing ways. The article also cited recent VNU Nielsen BuzzMetric's "Homescan" consumer panel research, which showed that:

"...33% of creators of consumer-generated media (in the form of video or blogs) also provide e-mail feedback to companies or brands via their websites, and 13% participate in brand or company blogs. Their engagement with corporate and brand sites is well above the norm for the general population."

If our whole life as marketers now revolves around generating/inspiring/encouraging/leveraging word-of-mouth, a further point from the folks at BuzzMetrics is worth noting: more than 40% of people who give a brand e-mail feedback are likely to recommend it to others.
Now -- who do YOU have monitoring, reading and responding to your consumer/customer email? It suddenly takes on a whole new level of significance!
Even if it is initially a bad experience that gets someone to email or give feedback in some way, what WONDERS can be done by responding to and incorporating their comments into your further product and website development! On the offline front, I know of one consumer electronics retailer who really focused on ALL feedback from its initial soft retail store launch and was amazed at the powerful guidance provided by those piles of emails/comment cards.
Consumers want to be heard - and we still live in a time where a lot of brands haven't figured out how to listen. Engage with your customers, even in some small way, right now - and learn, grow, learn.
Engagement, branding style, seems to have worked particularly well for Dove - as Jack Neff points out in the Ad Age article's closing:
"Unilever's 'Dove Evolution"'viral video has generated more than 3 million views online since it launched in October -- and helped spur a 34% increase in visitors to the Unilever websites."

(You can access the video from my post about it here.)
I know you wouldn't mind even a little of that type of engagement with your market.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Andrea Learned
Andrea Learned is a noted author, blogger, and expert on gender-based consumer behavior. Her current focus is on sustainability from both the consumer and the organizational perspectives. Andrea contributes to the Huffington Post and provides sustainability-focused commentary for Vermont Public Radio.