Link Walls, VP of Digital Marketing Strategy at ChannelAdvisor chats about top eCommerce trends and how online buying journeys have shifted through the years:
Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Link, tell us more about your time being in marketing at ChannelAdvisor for all these years, how has the team and core marketing and martech processes evolved over these years here?
Thanks for having me! There’s never a dull moment working at ChannelAdvisor. E-commerce has an inherent dynamic nature that doesn’t allow it to be stagnant; it has to keep evolving to meet every iteration of consumer behavior. My role as a strategic consultant has given me a unique vantage point. For over 15 years at ChannelAdvisor, I’ve seen e-commerce innovations that worked exceedingly well and others that missed the mark. Brands and retailers can’t rely on guesswork to be competitive, which means I have to constantly ask: what will attract (and keep) a consumer’s attention when the landscape is loud and crowded? That means the marketing that goes along with e-commerce has to be dynamic too and deliver messaging that resonates with the modern consumer who has a plethora of online and offline shopping options. Over the years, there’s been a lot of growth in e-commerce, and our marketing processes have had to become more operationally agile in order to help our customers adapt to changing consumer trends. As a multichannel e-commerce platform, we leverage technology to meet client demand and add value to partnerships, whether that’s improving a retailer’s product information or building a data-based foundation for their advertising campaigns. The result is marketing campaigns that are optimized and that meet the consumer where they are.
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When it comes to marketing in today’s dynamics, how would you tell marketing heads and marketing teams to redefine processes and strategies to build shorter customer journeys and cycles?
Today’s consumer is shopping from their very first search. In many ways the consumer journey is less of a linear funnel and more of a series of activities with intent that ultimately end up in a purchase. Brands and retailers can work to streamline this journey and get the sale by making sure that all the relevant information is visible. For example ensuring that promotions are reflected on Google and clearly visible on the website to avoid the dreaded bounce. Search is another area that can play a role – if it is easier and better for the consumer to search on Google then your website you are likely adding paid clicks to the journey unnecessarily.
In what ways do you feel marketers can align strongly with their sales counterparts to help build collaborative business growth and healthier pipelines?
Collaborating with sales teams is crucial to aligning on key business goals. Using a collaborative process where consistent communication and check-ins occur ensures both sides are in sync from the start. This process is designed to give a collective, deep understanding of broader business strategy, objectives and pain points — beyond just the marketing objectives.
Tell us about your own marketing learnings and faux pas over the years and your biggest takeaways?
It’s only natural that brands and retailers want to maximize their reach by taking advantage of and having a presence on every digital touchpoint available now. And they should. But it’s best to be realistic and smart about what’s working and what’s not, especially as it pertains to marketing. Or else it’s just throwing money down the drain. This requires building feedback loops — such as through social listening, where brands and retailers can hear how consumers feel about campaigns on social media platforms — in order to gauge sentiment on marketing’s performance. The good thing about digital advertising, in particular, is that feedback is nearly instant. So if a campaign isn’t hitting the mark, brands and retailers can quickly see that, regroup and reassess their strategies accordingly.
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Can you share a few examples/thoughts on some of the best marketing tactics you’ve seen in the recent past?
We have seen enormous challenges with the global supply chain over the last 18 months. One impact of these issues is that marketers are challenged to deliver profitable advertising programs on an ever-changing assortment of product. One approach we’ve used to solve this is to build a dynamic digital advertising program that’s flexible as inventory changes. Many companies see fluctuations in inventory caused by the supply chain issues, and oftentimes it’s quite variable – with only certain categories impacted and, in many cases, just specific SKUs. By integrating their inventory directly with their digital advertising campaigns, companies can quickly shift spending on the fly – moving ad dollars to those products that are in stock and ready to ship. As stock comes back in, the system can automatically revert to pushing those products. These types of dynamic systems ensure that ad dollars are being used in the most efficient manner.
We’d love to hear a few thoughts on your views on the global martech industry and predictions for 2022!
I think we’ll see continued growth from marketplaces in the coming year. More and more brands and retailers want to expand their online reach, and marketplaces offer a cost-effective solution. This gives them the chance to try new markets and deliver product offerings in massive catalogs.
Shoppable TV is also an area that’ll see more growth, especially among smaller brands and retailers. With streaming not showing any signs of slowing down, incorporating interactive ads into the TV viewing experience helps get products in front of millions of consumers without the heavy financial burden that often comes with primetime TV spots.
Automation and AI will continue to be a major force in the coming year – the ability to digest all available signals to serve the right ad is an area that is ripe for opportunity for technologies such as machine learning. Leveraging these technologies is key to winning in the modern digital ad landscape.
Some last thoughts, takeaways, digital marketing and martech thoughts, tips and best practices before we wrap up!
Digital marketing strategies today need to focus on understanding audiences and speaking to them. If they don’t, brands and retailers leave the door wide open to their competitors. This means brands and retailers must know who their customer base is, where their target market is, who they’re selling to, etc. Having in-depth knowledge of customers allows for more personalized experiences, which helps to build that crucial customer relationship. Once it’s built, brands and retailers will be on their way to having a loyal customer base.
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