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Four more approaches to brand engagement

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Retailers that take the time to strike up and engage in conversations with existing and potential customers stand out in the IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement Report 2019. For by providing information or inspiration that’s of real value to the people considering buying their products, these traders make it that bit more likely that shoppers will buy. Here, Chloe Rigby outlines four highly-practical approaches that leading retailers are taking as they find new ways to open conversations with customers

1. Deploy reviews and ratings strategically 

When retailers go beyond simply sharing their reviews and ratings they can attract customers’ attention and inspire them to trust their brand. Shoppers can see the independent evidence that a retailer is trustworthy and choose for themselves. 

Guitar and musical instrument retailer Andertons Music Co isn’t shy about sharing its feedback. It boasts ‘customers love us!’ on its home page, and demonstrates the point by sharing its latest Feefo reviews and star ratings, warts and all, above its Feefo ratings for customer experience and products.

2. Make space to talk

Giving customers the space and place to talk can help them find new ways to use a product they already have, or be inspired that a product is the right one for them to buy. Community forums enable browsers to ask questions of others who share their interests, and find problem-solving recommendations. 

There are examples of such forums across retail categories. Department store Debenhams’ Beauty Club combines a very active community forum with the chance to try out free samples, win prizes and build up points towards purchases. Members discuss products and share recommendations and images of how a product looked on them. 

Over at the Screwfix community forum, meanwhile, conversations range from extending pipes to choosing scaffold towers. Insights gained through such conversations are not only useful to those taking part but also to those who subsequently browse conversations as they look for answers their own questions as well.

3. Use images to engage customers

An image says a thousand words – and retailers can get their message across by sharing the images that best represent their brand on social media. Instagram is no longer just for fashion retailers: in 2019 81% of Top500 retailers use the channels to share inspiring images and videos. Andertons Music chooses stylish images of guitars and other musical instruments, while Aldi uses its account to share inspiring food images and videos.

4. Use new ways to engage

Asian fast food chain Wasabi has used mobile to deliver a ‘smart packaging’ marketing play. When it launched its new Home Bento range in 200 branches of Sainsbury’s, packaging featured a unique QR code that shoppers could scan in order to enter a competition to win a trip to Japan. Alternatively they could type the one-off short URL into a web browser to enter the code featured on the ready meal packaging. The promotion uses technology from Thyngs to turn their packaging into, effectively a new engagement channel. Thyngs’ analytics platform can in turn tell Wasabi who is picking up their ready meals at Sainsbury’s and, as each competition entry code is unique, whether they are coming back for more.

Wasabi already uses Thyngs near-field communication (NFC) technology in its frictionless Wasabi Club loyalty scheme. 

Andreia Harewood, senior marketing manager at Wasabi, said: “Using Thyngs was a no brainer as we had already run a successful loyalty programme with them and knew they would deliver both great service, and fantastic returns.”

Thyngs CEO Neil Garner said this represented “an entirely new channel of engagement” – that would also give Wasabi insights into its customers, and their preferences.

This feature first appeared in the IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement 2019 report. Click here to explore that report in full, and here to explore the Top500 series of reports.

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