Digital tools offer distributors the potential to improve productivity and sales, offer a better value proposition for customers, and strengthen relationships with suppliers, but success isn’t possible without a smart strategy and some trial and error.

That was the conclusion of Mark Dancer and two industry experts on Wednesday at the NAW 2015 Executive Summit. Those experts — Ellen Holladay of Motion Industries and Brian Nichol of Performance Food Group — offered their experiences in planning, testing, deploying and refining digital tools to drive e-commerce sales at their respective companies.

Digital tools, in this context, include the Web/e-commerce, social media, CRM, marketing automation and more. Dancer surveyed wholesaler-distributors on a number of questions, including:

  • Overall experience with specific digital tools, in terms of “experienced user,” “implementer or shopper,” and “person with understanding of features and benefits.”
  • Leading priorities for improving business results, in terms of distributors and manufacturers.
  • The leading benefits of digital tools for wholesaler-distributors.
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Everyone goes through what Lulu Gephart, REI’s manager of social and earned media, calls “content deserts.” There aren’t any campaigns or promotions going on, you’ve got nothing from your creative department, and finding something compelling to post is difficult. But, Lulu explains, at REI, they’ve developed a hashtag strategy that’s helped them capture user-generated content to use for the long haul.

For REI’s 1440 Project, they asked fans upload photos to a microsite or Instagram, tagging what outdoor activity they’re doing, where, and what minute of the 1440-minute day they’re doing it using #REI1440Project. And Lulu says, in just a few months, they gathered over 10,000 photos and over a half-million visits to the microsite.

Here are three key points from her presentation at our SocialMedia.org Brands-Only Summit:

  • Your fans show the true side of your brand. The variety and authenticity of user-generated content they received couldn’t have been recreated by REI’s creative team.
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Do viewers really tune into the Super Bowl each year just to see the ads? How engaged is the audience during the game?

Crowdtap polled more than 6,000 Super Bowl viewers to get their take on Super Bowl as it relates to advertising and social media.

Some key takeaways:

  • Thirty percent of respondents said they watched the game for the ads, up from 25% in 2014.
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they were somewhat or extremely likely to take action if asked to by a Super Bowl commercial.
  • Eighty-five percent of respondents said humor would make them remember an ad, while just 16% said crowdsourced content would do the same.
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Jonathan Farb ​is the chief product officer at ListenFirst​ Media​, a data and analytics company that helps brands make sense of the vast amount of data at their fingertips, predict outcomes and optimize performance.

The start of a new year means a new slate of predictions — we were pretty pleased with how the bets we placed on 2014 turned out, so we’re back for another round. Here are a few of the things we expect to see shake out in 2015:

1. The marriage of digital data and traditional data to provide business context: ​As once-­shiny­-new digital and social channels continue to mature, we believe more and more brands will begin looking at data from these channels next to more traditional data sets, be it sales figures, call center data, survey data, traditional research metrics, etc. While finding a correlation between your digital activity and your bottom line is the holy grail, the only way to get there is to take the first step: getting all of these inputs in one place. (read more…)

In terms of brand positioning and reaching new consumers, businesses of all sizes and sectors can benefit from a strong online video presence. YouTube, with an estimated 1 billion unique users every month, is too big a potential showcase for any brand to miss out on. What’s more, as the Net’s second-biggest search engine behind parent company Google, YouTube offers those who keep their channel well maintained and search-optimized a near peerless opportunity to reach consumers with their content.

YouTubeAs with company websites, video channels must be attractive to the user, easy to navigate and quickly searchable. This desirable state can only be achieved by organizing both the channel interface and the content that sits on it. Although organizing your YouTube channel isn’t an exact science and can be dependent on your content type and industry sector, there are a number of general guidelines to follow when aiming to get the best out of YouTube’s channel infrastructure. (read more…)