Best practice from Adjust Your Set.
Marks and Spencer has pioneered online video with ‘M&S TV’ (marksandspencer.com/tv) – a great example of v-commerce in practice, and proof positive that compelling online video increases sales.
One year old in March 2010, M&S TV is delivering a new form of customer engagement, delivering longer dwell times, repeat site visits and a significant uplift in conversions.
Marks and Spencer is known for its innovative online approach, and with online predicted to plateau in growth over the coming years, the retailer was keen to find ways of growing its online business while retaining the customers already visiting the site. In addition to enhancing the experience, the channel had to ultimately drive sales.
• M&S TV was launched in March 2009 with a range of objectives, including:
• Raise the level of customer engagement on marksandspencer.com
• Illustrate the hidden stories beyond the shop floor, for example interviewing the people responsible for making M&S cakes, or the farmer who supplies the company with milk
• Provide an elevated customer experience by raising the level of information available around key product ranges
• Allow deeper insight into the company’s social and environmental responsibility programme, Plan A
• Streamline the shopping experience through sympathetic integration of e-commerce tools
• Raise awareness of the brand beyond www.marksandspencer.com
• Provide a deep range of content to the consumer that informs, educates and entertains
• Increase sales
M&S TV is a collection of over 500 films divided into 12 channels. Each channel focuses on a particular company theme or business vertical, be it womenswear, menswear, home or the M&S sustainability pledge, Plan A.
To maintain brand consistency, the channels are managed by a central commissioning team consisting of staff from both M&S and Adjust Your Set. This team also plans future content and measures the consumer response.
The videos tend to be under two minutes long in order to fit the consumption patterns associated with branded channels. In order to maximize engagement and conversions, links are weaved throughout the editorial, and displayed prominently next to the player.
Engagement levels are constantly measured and regular refinements are made in order to improve the quality of the editorial and the rates of conversion. For example, if the channel manager sees that users are dropping off significantly within the first 10 seconds, the content will be examined in order to understand why this may occur.
Similarly if viewers are dropping off before the end, or certain links are not being clicked, then further changes are made.
The type of programming that works best on M&S TV draws the viewer in to the experience and encourages them to interact with the site, rather than simply sitting back and watching passively.
To do this, the editorial style of content production for M&S TV is more akin to “visual radio” rather than “TV on the Web.” Visual radio adopts many of the broadcast techniques of radio but with added pictures and clickable elements.
Radio DJs are always encouraging listeners to send in emails or phone in or text for a competition. The language used is highly inclusive and all about interaction, drawing the listener in and painting pictures with words. Increasingly this style is crossing over to TV, in particular on news bulletins when users are asked to send in their opinions or pictures/videos of a particular story.
M&S TV uses those same techniques, but instead of telling people to click, interaction is driven via visible cues, delivered by the appearance of clickable links next to the video. This closes the gap between the call-to-action and the reaction, driving a significant increase in conversions without detracting from the quality of the content.
For particularly busy periods such as Christmas 2009, a range of clips shot for M&S TV were re-packaged into pre-roll ad placements, and targeted to online media titles frequented by the M&S audience, including The Sun, GMTV, BSKYB, Hello and so on.
This process turned these publishers into a point of mass syndication, further extending the reach of the brand. Click-through from these bespoke ads shot specifically for online achieved rates of over 5 percent, which is up to five times the industry average for pre-roll.
Finally, in order to start the conversations within social media networks, M&S TV developed a stripped-down version of its video player, complete with click-to-buy links, and embedded it into Facebook.
Customers can view content as a shared experience amongst their peers, discuss what they like and don’t like, and even click-through to the M&S purchase pages from within Facebook.
In the future, M&S hopes to get more involved in community shopping initiatives online, as it is a great way to work with customers to deliver the right kind of products in the right way.
M&S TV has been a huge success. More than three million minutes of content has been viewed, and delivered the following results:
• Three times as many product views when supported with video
• Up to twice as many repeat visits by customers who watched M&S TV as opposed to those visiting the site alone
• Up to twice as long dwell time for customers who watch M&S TV as those who don’t
• Average uplift in basket size roughly 23 percent
This case study is from a white paper by Adjust Your Set and Brightcove, which can be downloaded from: http://www.adjustyourset.tv/
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