Last week, we had the chance to sit down with the ever busy, Fredrik Ihre. Fred is our Digital Experience Manager at Firefly360. Hailing from Sweden, he brings a refreshing perspective to projects. His years of experience working with an impressive portfolio of European clients has given him a unique insight into what’s to come in the realm of digital marketing in Perth.

In our interview we gain an insight into where he sees the digital customer journey heading. Plus, a few exceptional examples of how brands are using these changes to their advantage.

Fred, guide me through what you are seeing as the customer journey online in 2018.

Fred: Customer journey mapping in 2018 is so different from even five years before because it is absolutely not linear anymore. It’s far more fractural – a potential customer can funnel in at any point in the journey. There is no longer a clear A to B conversion. In-fact, the customer journey is now looking less and less like a funnel and more and more like a spider web. With the sheer amount of information that is out there, you’re able to be led into a journey with one brand from a completely different brand altogether.

Unlike before, it is now the customer who dictates when, where and how they get information. A brand can’t expect potential customers to just listen to what it is saying, and unquestioningly buy because they’ve seen an advertising or sales message. It doesn’t happen like that anymore. Customers are now far more discerning and sophisticated than that. If you provide them with something they want – that will save them time or provide them an emotional tie they might jump in. However, the customer journey is more personal now than ever before. It’s now more about determining the state of mind that the customer is in when they see your brand or message and then, making the experience personal and being the answer to their unique circumstances.

What does this mean to you and your brand?

Fred: Branding is now even more important than before. Brands that do well online have an overarching longer term brand focus with more tactical on special offers or price differentiation. They’re storytellers. Focusing too much on price point, or offer-centric messaging can create a negative, annoying perception of the brand.

Take for example, a telecomm company. If they want my attention, they better be focusing on messaging around how their product will solve or better yet anticipate my problem. Or, they can catch me on an emotional level. “No more buffering at a pivotal scene in your favourite Netflix series.” You, as a brand have to try to make life easier for the person you are trying to reach at that particular time.

Tell me about the difference between Sweden and Perth in terms of digital content creation?

Fred: The market is mature and very competitive in Europe. In Sweden, in particular, there have been many years of fierce competition, which have pushed brands and agencies to take big risks and be very creative in their marketing approaches.

One great example of this creative holistic thinking is when the Government of Sweden created an entire campaign around the “freedom to roam” law to encourage tourism in Sweden. It is something that signifies Sweden. By law, anyone can walk, camp, fish or forage for food- anywhere. It is the fundamental freedom of what Sweden stands for.

After establishing the freedom messaging at the heart of their brand, the agency built an entire campaign around this messaging. Thinking creatively and divergently collaborating with Airbnb to host the key messaging, then promoting the campaign across Facebook, Instagram and TV was central to its success.

The promotion stood out because it used an unconventional marketing channel (Airbnb) in a very creative way. It wouldn’t be as effective, or clever on any other channel like Facebook or Twitter alone. Built into the campaign was a very witty, very on time and very relevant Swedish personality. The ads featured relevant ambassadors and prolific public figures, like the Prime Minister of Sweden. They used precisely the right tool to spread their message to connect with their audience on an emotional level, creating a more holistic, positive view of Sweden as a place to visit.

As we advocate in all our strategies at Firefly360, it’s about shaping the conversation by creating well-placed, topical content on just the right channel. Sparking a conversation which is then nurtured,

Sweden’s clever campaign on “the freedom to roam” rolled out on Airbnb

 


An example of one listing page for a seaside camping spot- entertaining, concise and attention-grabbing.

 

What is the most important thing for all brands to focus on right now?

Fred: User experience. Hands down. But also, to keep an eye open on what’s happening in the AI field and how that will affect you, and your clients. If not, be sure to get overrun by someone who does.

There is so much data now, how can we use it effectively to guide and inform marketing decisions?

Data is nothing without knowing what you are looking for. Data can give you an answer but to the wrong question. So, make sure you define carefully what you want to measure and what goal you want to achieve

What should brands do to keep front-of-mind in our digital world?

Less is more. Don’t try to be everything to everyone everywhere. The more channels you use the more difficult it is to keep consistent across them, in service and experience.

What are you most excited about in the digital space?

Fred: There are two things that I am especially excited about in the digital space. One, I’m really excited by augmented reality (AR). Two, Artificial Intelligence methods and its impact on the market. I would say that the changes we’re about to go through can be compared to the industrial revolution as computer science will not only have a huge impact on society, people’s behaviour pattern but will also replace a lot of people’s jobs. This is not necessarily a bad thing as more time will open up to create more interesting markets and customer-oriented solutions.

The most well-known Swedish brand in the world, Ikea does AR really well.

The IKEA Places App offers customers the opportunity to visualise and move closer to the actual experience of seeing and owning its furniture in their own homes.

AR will allow us as marketers to get people closer to actually interacting with our service or product. It is a disruptive technology that opens up new markets.

At an event, for example, it gives the ability to capture the attention of those who want to experience an event live AND those who want to sit at home and watch it from their sofa.

One industry that I predict it will really offer a competitive advantage is the hospitality industry. Just imagine being able to walk around a hotel you are about to book. Even to be able to walk around outside a hotel in the surroundings to give a more realistic idea of what the experience will be like. There is so much untapped, great potential in AR.

 

Ikea’s Place App uses AR to improve customer experience and drive sales.

 

What do you think is the single most important digital tool to nail as a business in 2018?

I would say SEO. If you look at how our decision-making process has evolved, it is more and more based on information provided by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

For example, Google Home, Alexa, Siri etc. You say: “Alexa where should I grab dinner tonight?” Then Alexa brings up the top, or top few recommendations based on different factors that include SEO. As our dependency on AI increases, and we use these voice-recognition technologies to save time, it will be increasingly important to build website and content that is optimised for these platforms.

Where do you think the most opportunities lie for marketers looking to expand their digital ecosystem?

If brands are willing to go outside their comfort zone they will understand that they might be a part of many brand’s marketing efforts to reach the same customer. There is lots of room for collaboration between brands right now.

For a simple example, if you are washing your car, you are in the mix with say, ten other brands. One company is selling the sponge, another one is selling the brush, one is selling the soap, you are selling the wipers. If you can recommend products, being a helpful and trusted expert in how to solve the problem your customer is facing, you’ll benefit as a brand. Don’t be afraid of collaborations and partnerships- this is a HUGE opportunity in the new digital world.  Understand where you fit into the customer journey and then find out where you might be able to expand your role to be helpful across a larger chunk of it. That is the essence of this idea. It will reflect in positive sentiment towards your brand.

How do you see the more traditional role of PR fitting into the online world?

Even hyper-connectivity has its downsides sometimes. In our digital world, we are always on our phone, and always able to be interrupted. That means that when we are browsing on our phones, we always have that noise filter on.

On the flip side, digital PR is also important, as the line between organic and paid content continues to blur. Using blogs and influencers will continue to be a factor in 2018. Again, it breaks through that noise filter. If you opt in to following that person on Instagram or reading their blogs, you are more receptive to what they are saying.

At Firefly360, we have the view that traditional and online PR are complementary. In fact, the metrics that digital offers now mean we can measure more effectively and gauge audiences even more closely. This can help inform our traditional PR strategy as we have a better understanding where customers are coming from and what they enjoy. Then, we can use this information to holistically develop our clients’ strategy across print, radio and TV- with the same messaging as digital PR. The two go hand-in-hand.

Thanks for sitting down with me Fred!