At Olapic, we are immensely proud of our partner ecosystem — we designed it with innovation and strategy in mind in order to drive value for our clients across their entire marketing stack. Through these partnerships, we are able to facilitate the activation and analysis of brands’ visual earned content within the marketing ecosystem, including email, ads, mobile apps, and more.
Each of our partners has a unique perspective on the digital marketing industry, so we thought what better way to share this knowledge than through a new blog series! Welcome to Better Together, a partner spotlight where we interview key players at our partner organizations to share their perspectives and thoughts on the industry.
Partner Company Name: PowerReviews
Author Name: Theresa O’Neil
Author Title: SVP, Marketing
What does authentic marketing mean to you?
There are two parts to authenticity in marketing. The first is transparency: making sure that your brand, your offerings, and your communications align with your behaviors, internally and externally. This can be as simple as making sure your product descriptions are thorough and accurate so your shoppers know what to expect when their order arrives. Transparency builds trust, and consumers purchase from companies they trust. The second part of authenticity in marketing is about highlighting the voice of consumers through user-generated content such as ratings, reviews, photos, and videos — even if this feedback isn’t always positive. Consumers want to hear from other consumers, and featuring this content adds another layer of authenticity to your marketing. PowerReviews research has found that 65% of shoppers are more likely to trust products that have user-submitted photos or videos in their reviews.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a marketing executive today?
There are so many new marketing technologies and tools that are springing up every day. One ongoing challenge I face as a marketing executive is balancing experimentation with new tools (what I often call “shiny objects”) and sticking with tools and technologies that are proven to help PowerReviews’ meet our marketing objectives. In addition, just as the retailers we work with are tasked with bridging unique, personalized online and in-store experiences with digital marketing, I’m always thinking about how to balance digital marketing initiatives with high touch events to create broad awareness and personal connections.
In that same vein, what are the most common challenges you hear from your customers?
One of the most common challenges I hear from customers is a challenge that I also face — a long list of priorities and a much shorter list of resources. That’s why it’s so important for us to make the connection between our technology and results really tight for the brands and retailers we work with. In addition, Amazon is top of mind for many of our customers, especially retailers. A recent PowerReviews study found that 38% of shoppers are starting the shopping journey on Amazon. And the top reasons they’re doing so are a variety of products and pricing considerations such as free shipping. Retailers can’t compete with Amazon on variety and shipping, but they can compete by providing a differentiated customer experience for customers throughout the shopping journey, fueled by comprehensive product information.
The lines between creative and technology are continuing to blur; what are your thoughts on the interplay between the two?
Technology provides analysis and insights that– along with the human imagination– spark and inform creativity. Technology also provides an amazing array of tools that help shape creative ideas into art, inventions, and marketing that have changed our lives. Technology has truly become a creative partner with imagination.
More and more, we’ve been reading about the “content commerce” model. But the skillset to produce engaging, authentic content is quite different from what’s required for commerce success. What are your thoughts on this?
It’s essential for companies to create a seamless bridge from inspiration to commerce, and vice versa — which isn’t always easy. Houzz does a really great job with this. A consumer visits Houzz to get inspiration for remodeling their bathroom. The consumer not only gets lots of ideas from user-submitted photos, but she can also purchase the products she likes — all from one platform. Similarly, ratings and reviews are including more and more user-submitted photos and videos, which helps improve SEO and conversion, turning browsers into buyers.
How can brands tell cohesive stories across all of the channels where their consumers live?
Traditionally, different challenges are managed by different organizations. In-store is managed by an in-store team, and digital is managed by a digital team, often without collaboration between the two. However, omnichannel is quickly moving from being a buzzword to a necessary organizational change. In order to tell cohesive stories across all channels, there has to be collaboration across the organization.
With marketers on the line for larger shares of ROI, how do you advise your customers on ways to maximize their marketing strategies?
Experiment with new tools and technologies. But at the same time, double down on what works. In addition, make sure you’re not taking a “set it and forget it” approach with your marketing strategies, but rather doing everything you can to maximize your investment. For example, ratings and reviews are proven to boost SEO, conversion, and sales, but with a long list of priorities, companies sometimes “set and forget” when it comes to ratings and reviews.
This is a case where “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is not the right approach. Over time, technology advances and best practices change: customers need to continue to move forward; else they will be left behind. You must be mobile optimized; you should ask for reviews for all purchases, not just the most recent. You wouldn’t dream of setting and forgetting when it comes to AdWords; you should bring the same level of attention to reviews, which are proven to convert those click throughs to customers.
With such a focus on data and analytics (ROI), how can brands leave room for true creativity in their marketing efforts?
Data and analytics should inform creativity. The two aren’t mutually exclusive at all.
Name one bold prediction to you have for marketing and brands in the next few years?
Making a human connection will become increasingly important for marketers that are competing among the endless shopping options of today’s consumers. Marketers understand how to leverage data and technology, but the companies that will stand out will be those that figure out how to successfully make a human connection and create experiences — whether in-store, online, through events, or on the phone — that delight customers. We can already see this coming through for some retailers. For example, many stores have eliminated their self-checkout lanes, recognizing that one on one, personalized service is key. For any company competing with Amazon, this high touch service is important. Retailers can’t compete with Amazon on things like pricing and free shipping. However, they can compete by delivering a great customer experience across all touchpoints. And customers are willing to pay more if they know they can expect a great experience.
A big thanks for Theresa’s participation in our first-ever Better Together series. Learn more about her and see her UGC below!
BIO: Theresa is the SVP of Marketing for PowerReviews. She is responsible for building and leading the PowerReviews marketing team in the development and execution of programs that increase awareness of the PowerReviews brand and technology, generate leads and support direct and indirect channels to grow revenue and profitability. Theresa brings more than 20 years of experience developing marketing, sales and business development strategy. Prior to PowerReviews, Theresa founded Artha Communications, a firm dedicated to marketing for software companies. Before founding Artha, Theresa led marketing and business development for companies including IBM, InRule Technology, Showcase, and Platinum Technology.