How Slack and MailChimp Gained New Touchpoints With Their Consumers Through Brand Commerce
A brand is the sum total of all experiences a customer has with the company, and nowadays most of these interactions happen via digital channels — on websites, mobile apps or social media. In the times when access to information about a product got quicker and easier, remaining competitive requires a strong online presence and constant “contact” with our potential customer, preferably across all the customer touchpoints with the brand. One example is e-commerce, recently developing in the direction of brand commerce. Interestingly enough, brands like Slack or MailChimp recently reached for such solutions, although they’re not what immediately comes to mind when you think of online stores. But each, in their own unique way, have effectively applied this trend to get even closer to their audience.
Ok, question time. Which one of you has Slack socks, envies them on your colleagues or at leastsaw their online ad? I’m assuming some hands just went up, but I can also see those of you who are saying “Socks, schmocks. A gadget like any other. But what do they have to do with the image of a brand with an estimated worth of $2.0b offering a marketing support tool?” True, the “legendary” and “stylish” Slack sock in itself reminds of thousands of other gimmicks mass produced by the less creative marketing departments desperately seeking a cheap way to ingrain themselves in the memory of the customer:
There was even a time when Product Hunt fell victim to the sock buzz:
and, in response to the hype on Product Hunt surrounding Slack socks, stated that they “are working on something for Product Hunt.” too.
So what’s the buzz about if we all know that the Internet era consumers don’t want to be sold to, they want to be connected with? “Much like the expectations of a brick-and-mortar experience — the consumer wants personalization, context, relatability, and they want to be engaged emotionally” — writes BASIC Agency’s CEO Matt Falk on their company blog and explains: “To do this, brands must focus on transforming the mundane and uninspiring »transactional« model of e-commerce, into a compelling consumer experience that builds loyalty and speaks to their unique ambitions, desires, and needs.”
The Slack case is very special when it comes to this.
Love Brand — How to “Sell” Engagement and Loyalty
When it comes to me, I choose the socks that will make my feet happy ;) But that’s not all. While Salesforce is simply cashing in on their online store, Slack donates all proceed from its shop to charityand informs that the beneficiaries will receive a minimum of $10,000 and will be changed every 6 months. It’s a huge step toward Millennials who are increasingly looking for real world experiences from their favorite brands, who will “offer more than just a product or service” (Lisa Rodwell CEO, Wool & The Gang).
It is equally ingenious as the earlier “SwearJar” campaign where each curse word in Slack communication was matched with a donation to the needy. In short, by being bad, you could actually do some good. This comment made by SwearJar’s Head of Product, David DeParolesa explains the idea: “We are constantly looking for new ways to insert philanthropy and social good into people’s everyday lives. Given how much of our life is spent chatting on Slack, we thought it would be a perfect place to do some good in an unexpected way.”
Bill Macaitis, Slack’s CMO, emphasized in an interview for Mashable: “It’s important to think about the entire customer lifecycle and relentlessly improve the interactions customers have with your company.” After all, these interactions will directly impact your brand. Because Slack is a technology company, their brand strategy oozes digital first. Not without significance are these words of Slack’s CEO, Stewart Butterfield: “Every customer interaction is a marketing opportunity. If you go above and beyond on the customer service side, people are much more likely to recommend you.” Undoubtedly there’s something to it — Slack is the quickest growing software ever.
MailChimp: Integration of Commerce, Community and Content
I especially like this case. Why? Because the MailChimp store is a platform that shows excellent content in context. Yes, they also sell socks, among other things. And yes, they also donate all the money to good causes.
But besides that, they also created a blog “What’s in Store,” where they describe, step by step (or #issue after #issue), their experiences related to starting and running their online store. Below, you will find a couple of entries:
And here’s a quote from the first issue which landed in my inbox: “Each week, this newsletter chronicles our adventures, including our successes and failures along the way. We don’t really know what we’re doing, but we’re happy to share what we learn as we go. If everything goes as planned, you’ll learn something, too.”
“But hold on!” some will say. “They don’t know what they’re doing, and they even admit it?!” Exactly! This seemingly poor attempt at attracting readers is actually a very well-thought-through approach which follows a simple idea: “Focus on learning what it’s like to sell online.” Because, how are you not going to trust a huge brand, one of the biggest e-mail marketing platforms worldwide, when they open an online store and willingly confess all their decisions, successes, and failures and then advise based on what worked and what didn’t.
Also, the person writing to us is Meg. A real, normal person like us, who in her first post openly admits “Do I have retail experience? Haha, nope. Have I ever started my own business? Definitely not.” What’s more, she also tells us on her Twitter that a friend of hers, who makes fun of her specific handwriting, decided to create a special font named after her which will be part of all Meg’s future entries.
Boom! We’re hooked, and the bond only grows stronger. In the first #issue, “First there was an idea,” we witness the birth of the main idea behind MailChimp’s e-commerce activity: “This store isn’t even really about MailChimp. It’s about our users. We’re selling their items, giving the money to great causes, and learning something along the way.” Later on, we find out how to choose the best sales platform for our store, what to name it and how to start on the mission of the venture.
This is the world of brand commerce — a world where every point of brand interaction can become a point of transaction.
Each entry contains something about the MailChimp store and so, for example, from Freddie and Company’s mission statement we learn that MC collaborates “with creative people to make fun, unique products for good causes.” For instance, initially, they involved their client (Odd Pears) in the project to create — you guessed it — socks with the Chimp logo on them. But they also love supporting organizations that support the people in their community, so they decided to pair each product partner with a nonprofit who could reap the benefits from the sales of the items.
To a trained eye, there is a key message here which Meg serves us as an advice of her Creative Director who wonders why MC needs a store in the first place: “This is great content for an email.” — Ron will say. And Meg applies this strategy in the real world, and oh, by the way, she:
– shows MailChimp as the best and most intuitive tool to promote a ready store (#issue 6: Setting Up Mail Chimp) while walking us through various easy to apply templates, samples, plug-ins, etc.
Of course, it’s just a by-the-way-kinda-thing. No comments needed. That’s why I would like to leave you with this Pats McDonald quote from an article on brand commerce: “In a world where the path to purchase is woven so seamlessly across channels and devices, the notion of e-commerce becomes redundant. This is the world of brand commerce — a world where every point of brand interaction can become a point of transaction.”
Originally published on Prowly Magazine.
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