Spot Studio digital marketing news 112

Weekly Roundup #112 – Empathy, Blockchain & eCommerce

Before reading the five best stories from the week in digital marketing, did you read last weeks edition? We discussed how mobile has taken the top spot for ad spend, Snapchat’s new shoppable features and how behavioural science informs marketing strategy… Back to this week where we explore:


The Best Insights from Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, writes an annual shareholder letter in which he provides a broad overview of the past year for the company. As you’d expect, there are many insights to be found in these fascinating and well-written letters, so here are a few of our favourites:

In every single letter from 1997 to the present day, Bezos has included a manifesto that states that, “It’s all about the long-term.” This makes clear their commitment to long-term investment and growth in order to be an innovative market-leader.

“If you’re going to invent, it means you’re going to experiment, so you have to think long-term.”

The focus on the long-term also means that short-term failures are accepted as part of the journey – as Bezos says,

“Failure comes part and parcel with innovation. It is not an option.”

In fact, the very features that have been instrumental in Amazon’s growth – such as AWS, Marketplace and Prime – were, at the time, thought to be risky and worrying experiments.

The long-term nature of Bezos’s strategy also means that the stock market has less power over decision-making in the company. During periods where Amazon’s stock prices dropped (by up to 80% at some points), it would be typical to see the company become reactive to the situation – instead, Bezos decided to build a ‘heavier company’ which he justified at the time due to predictions that eCommerce was about to boom – and he was right.

The long-term strategy also works to satisfy customer and shareholder interests, as Bezos sees offering the best customer service as a way to create trust and more business.

“Proactively delighting customers earns trust, which earns more business from those customers, even in new business arenas. Take a long-term view, and the interests of customers and shareholders align.”

Bezos’s theory of long-term business means that the company has grown an intuitive understanding of their customers. Rather than relying on surveys and market research in order to understand their users, Amazon’s,

“remarkable customer experience starts with the heart, intuition, curiosity, play, guts and taste.”

Bezos also makes clear that the company makes ‘high-velocity’ decisions, as this gives Amazon a competitive advantage over slow, de-energized companies. There are many reasons that Bezos advocates quick decision making, the first being that ‘type 2 decisions’ can be easily reversed.

“If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong is less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”

Amazon, under Bezos’s direction, makes decisions with 70% of the information needed, as waiting for the 90%+ that its competitors do, slows you down. The company policy is to ‘disagree and commit’ in situations where a consensus cannot be reached, as this speeds up the process making it less painful for both sides of the argument.

Finally, Amazon has a strategy in place to ensure that they hire the best of the best. Interviewers are asked to consider three questions before making a hiring decision:

  • Will you admire this person?
  • Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?
  • Along what dimension will this person be a superstar?

Company leaders are pushed to keep ‘raising the bar’ by coaching others, recognising exceptional talent and ensuring that every hire is as good as – if not better – than the one before it.

Bezos states that,

“You can work long, hard or smart, but at you can’t choose two out of three.”


Know the Value of your First-Party Data

First-party data (which is derived directly from your customers) is the key to delivering the type of personalisation that consumers have come to expect in eCommerce. CPC Strategy has found that marketers are showing a preference for first-party data, with 39% of retailers asking for data points directly, whilst 27% are recording more observed data.

56% of people say they are more likely to buy from a company that recognises them by name, so imagine the power of personalising the whole customer experience from start to end…

We bring you five different strategies in order to make the most of your first-party data.

Ad Targeting

In order to make the most of an ad budget, proper targeting – based on customer shopping behaviour, previous purchases and browsing history – is essential. The same information can also be used to predict future behaviour and purchases, with Facebook Lookalike and Google Similar Audiences, this data can be built upon for prospecting campaigns that result in finding new customers.

Facebook’s Custom Audiences was created to improve their ad targeting – and it has quickly become a go-to for customer prospecting and retargeting across the shopper’s purchase journey (with email match rates on Facebook between 40-80%).

Abandoned Carts

Knowing which products to show which customers should be informed by their browsing history, and their abandoned carts. Crafting the perfect ‘abandoned cart email’ is incredibly important, especially as customers walk away from the overwhelming majority of online carts and baskets.

Let customers know that a product that was in their cart has now been marked down, or has become part of a special promotion, as this is an easy way to potentially trigger a conversion.

Customer Segmentation

Even your target audience can be further edited and grouped – some are buyers whilst others are browsers, some shop at full-price, whilst others hunt for discounts.

By segmenting an audience, it becomes possible to communicate more directly with each group’s individual needs and preferences. If you can identify the most loyal fans, you can target them with a more personalised shopping experience, which will nurture their loyalty.


Retargeting has evolved – it is no longer acceptable to bombard browsers with images of the same item on each site that they visit. Instead, look to up-sell and cross-sell in order to craft a more sophisticated retargeting.

Showing complementary products that first-party data has proven to be of interest, should see a lift in sales.

Print Marketing

Finally, don’t forget that a message can be just as powerful when received in the post. One’s doormat is less cluttered and overwhelming than their inboxes, so take advantage of this fact to send personalised branding and coupons/discounts…


How Empathy will Improve your Business

empathy map
Source: Gamestorming

Mary Beech, VP and CMO at Kate Spade New York, believes in the power of empathy in marketing. The ability to put oneself in someone else’s position, is to establish an understanding of their mindset, and this has been instrumental in creating campaigns and brand messages that speak to the consumer.

Beech discusses the three most important lessons that she learnt on her journey to become a more empathetic leader…

In-Store Experiences

The in-store experience offers customers the chance to get advice and insight from the in-store team. So in order to translate that into the online shop, Kate Spade New York created the Talking Shop.

The Talking Shop is a YouTube series where two real-life retail assistants share their knowledge, styling tips and show off new products in a way that is reminiscent of the in-store experience. Customers are truly engaging with this content – spending lots of time watching the videos and leaving great feedback in the comments section.

Honest Adverts

Old fashioned campaigns would create a dream-like image of perfection – think of all of those ads that feature hyper-real, airbrushed celebrities – however, according to research and data, consumers are actually looking for more honest, raw messages and images.

Working with Google, Kate Spade focused on bringing the issues of confidence, love, happiness and success to the fore in their latest campaigns. By using TrueView Discovery ads, the campaign videos would appear in YouTube searches by people for these issues, meaning that their ads could help to answer these questions by their target audience.

Ads as Entertainment

Research and data has shown that ads which function only as a sales pitch are no longer enough for the modern audience. Consumers expect to be entertained by content that they watch, and as such, Kate Spade New York created a long-form series called #MissAdventure, which felt more like a TV series than an ad campaign.

Each of these three lessons is driven by putting the brand in the customer’s shoes – understanding what, how and when the consumer wants to see their content.


Mega-Retailers Adopt Blockchain

Blockchain technology has started to infiltrate everyday life, and 2018 could be the year that it goes mainstream. Some top retailers are exploring how blockchain could be incorporated into their businesses – and how the ‘unbreakable trust’ of cryptocurrencies will affect them.

There are many ways in which blockchain could alter how business is done, for example, food safety, food fraud and supply chain accounting would all become far more transparent, with consumers seeing the true origins of their products.

Blockchain could, essentially, eliminate counterfeit goods with Crypto-anchors, a type of tamper-proof digital fingerprint.

“Crypto-anchors add trust to the last mile by extending the blockchain platform into the realm of physical goods by embedding actual products with tamper-proof digital fingerprints,”

Laurence Haziot, Global Managing Director and General Manager for IBM Consumer Industries.

“They’ll be used in tandem with blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to ensure an object’s authenticity from its point of origin to when it reaches the hands of the customer.

These technologies will create new ways for retailers to work on solutions that tackle food safety, authenticity of manufactured components, genetically modified products, identification of counterfeit objects and provenance of luxury goods.”

With this in mind, we take a look at five retailers who are exploring how blockchain may be of use to them…


Walmart is reportedly ready to use blockchain technology on its live food business, according to Frank Yiannas, the VP of Food Safety and Health. This new system means that produce can be tracked in two seconds rather than six days, and it could reduce food waste, improve contamination management and transparency.

“Since 2016, Walmart has been working with IBM to develop software that uses the blockchain to track products through its supply chain, from the farm to the consumer.

Last year, Yiannas asked his team to trace a package of sliced mangoes back to their source. He says it took them six days, 18 hours, and 26 minutes. After Walmart used the software developed with IBM to track mangoes from a farm in Mexico to U.S. stores over a 30-day period, the same exercise took a mere 2.2 seconds.”

notes Haziot


Starbucks is preparing to launch a pilot program with its farmers in Colombia, Costa Rica and Rwanda to track its coffee from ‘bean to cup’, whilst sharing this information in real-time with consumers.

Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson, explains that,

“Over the next two years, we will look to demonstrate how technology and innovative data platforms can give coffee farmers even more financial empowerment […] We’ll leverage an open-source approach to share what we learn with the rest of the world.”


Launching ‘Europe’s first food blockchain’, Carrefour is using blockchain to track its free-range Carrefour Quality Line Auvergne chickens (a product that they sell over a million per year).

This will make information such as the location and environment that the chicken was raised in, the farmer’s name, what feed was used, if antibiotics were administered and where they were slaughtered more transparent and available to the consumer.

Their traceablilty technology will be expanded to include eight other commonplace items, such as eggs, cheese, milk, oranges, tomatoes, salmon and ground beef steak.

The consumer will see a QR code on these items, which, when scanned with a smartphone, will reveal the origins of the item and information about the journey that it took in order to reach the store.

In a similar move, the Chinese eCommerce site has created a blockchain system to guarantee the quality of the Australian Pure Black Angus Beef products that it is now importing.


Amazon recently announced that it will launch ‘BlockChain Templates’ which provides retailers with an easy and accessible way to include blockchain technology into their business using popular open source frameworks.

“Amazon’s Blockchain Templates will allow retailers to keep a recorded ledger securely and accurately throughout the supply chain,”

Arran Stewart, co-owner of blockchain recruitment platform, explains to RIS News.

“This information will make it easier for companies to reduce shortages/pilfering of goods, trace the source of all items all the way to the customer, reduce logistical costs and time, whilst have an accurate open ledger. This sort of technology is especially interesting for FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) where consumers want full traceability of where the food comes from.”


eCommerce Trends for the Year Ahead

eCommerce is an integral part of the busy modern consumer’s life, who can purchase items, services and experiences at the touch of a button. eCommerce has created giants such as Amazon and eBay, but it is also essential for small and medium-sized businesses, who are also profiting from the rise of online shopping.

From its beginnings, eCommerce has developed, grown and expanded to suit the current climate and consumer habits, and it will continue to do so. Scroll down for an infographic that explores the upcoming trends and buying preferences that could affect your business…




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Sebastian Paszek

Marketing manager

Controlling the chaos of the digital landscape, Sebastian is a multiplatform executive, project manager and photographer.