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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Executive Summary

This report is aimed at analysing the cross-channel customer experience which has been created by Swansea Business Improvement District through the Big Heart of Swansea marketing campaign along with its main option – Loyalty card scheme. The target audience and value for each segment is therefore considered in terms of BID object – to make Swansea a better place to shop, visit and stay.

The current challenges facing BID in terms of marketing through specific models and concepts will be briefly discussed. In particular, Global Marketing Trends, along with the Need for Digital Marketing in today's world will also be considered as a main point of review and rethinking current BID marketing strategy.

The customer experience of the Swansea Big Heart is investigated through McKinsey approach called ‘consumer decision journey' (reference) which includes four steps in ongoing cycle: consider, evaluate, buy and enjoy, advocate and bond in contrast to previous ‘funnel' approach. Each phase is analysed through the experience of tourist exploring Swansea City Centre area starting with online search, card order, offers evaluation, purchase and bonding in the end. The importance of Big Data collection and its challenges is also considered.

Finally, there will also be an attempt to discuss specific recommendations associated with the digitalization of marketing for the Swansea BID. For the purpose of this report, the Digital Roadmap was developed for the Big Heart of Swansea digital marketing strategy. It is based on AA RRR Metrics model (McClure, 2007) and Noob Guide (Gardner, 2015) to demonstrate the connections between main metrics and digital marketing elements such as SEO, SMM, Content and Email marketing.

1. Introduction

The Swansea Business Improvement District is a Not for Profit organization which was formed in 2006 and represents over 800 businesses/organisations in Swansea City Centre. Its objective is to make Swansea a better place to shop, visit and stay (BID, 2015). The BID's current activities focus on Car Parking and Transportation, Safety & Security, Marketing / PR, Cleansing, Supporting & Attracting Businesses. Swansea is the only City Centre in Wales with a Business Improvement District (BID, 2011).

Currently the Swansea BID has reached a saturation point in its lifecycle, and needs to be able to continue  to generate further growth in order to be sustainable for the future within a complex environment. In this report therefore the BID's main marketing campaign ‘The Big Heart of Swansea' is analysed.  

‘The Big Heart of Swansea' is a Loyalty Card scheme launched in August 2013 by Swansea BID and The City & Council of Swansea. It is aimed at bringing the shoppers and visitors of the South West Wales region, and beyond, into Swansea City Centre and providing them with the latest promotions and offers from regional national and independent retailers as well as the latest news of events and competitions within the City Centre. It is aimed at becoming the signature logo of Swansea City Centre which will be identified by the consumer as meaning assured quality, value and customer satisfaction (BID, 2015).

Swansea is in a prominent geographical position within Wales, and is supported by strong transport links. It is rich in culture and supports a vibrant lifestyle. The BIDs loyalty card enables a lot of local entrepreneurs to encourage business. Although BID states in its Annual Report that throughout the year over 646,000 people have seen and heard of its Big Heart of Swansea campaign (BID, 2015), however, there is a low level of awareness of the Big Heart campaign, low outreach, and low level of digitalization in terms of marketing (7th position in Google search, …… website visitors per day).  (clarify)

To overcome potential competition from nearby cities such as Cardiff and Newport there is a constant need to rethink current marketing strategy and cross-channel customer experience by focusing on digitalization opportunities and trends.

2. The Big Heart of Swansea value delivery and its challenges

As early as the 1960s it was realized that in order to compete companies needed to be more customer-oriented instead of product-oriented (Levitt, 1960) and focus on the creation of customer lifetime value (Rust, 2010). Traditionally the customer's value is considered in marketing as a sum of the tangible and intangible benefits and costs to the buyer (Kotler, 2012). It is also a ratio in terms of efforts spent in order to acquire the product (Geraerdts, 2012). In order to maximise the customer value (Kotler, 2012) and to archive an operational effectiveness it is needed to extend value creation into the implementation of the customer value delivery (Walters, 1999), where companies now see themselves as part of this process (Kotler, 2012).

Previously it was assumed that consumers made their decisions through ‘funnel' approach - consider, evaluate and buy, narrowing the vague number of potential brands in mind to eventually one product. However, recent researches revealed that after purchase consumers tend to go through the next step - enjoy, advocate and bond (Edelman, 2010), what turns into an ongoing cycle. This approach is called ‘consumer decision journey' (Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., Jørgen O. V., 2009) where companies themselves need to be the shapers of this experience (Edelman, D. C., Singer M., 2015), rather than solely to record a history of the customer (Peter C. Verhoef, Katherine N. Lemon, A. Parasuraman, Anne Roggeveen, Michael Tsiros, Leonard A. Schlesinger, 2009).

To understand how BID creates a customer experience through the Big Heart of Swansea loyalty cards, it is firstly needed to identify value provided for all stakeholders. According to the Strategic Marketing Plan 2014/2015 BID is targeting locals, neighbours, tourists, students and investors (BID, 2014) which in turn could be divided into two big groups: consumers and businesses. The former group benefits from offered discounts at more than 50 businesses from popular bars and quality hairdressers to clothing shops and jewellers (Big Heart of Swansea, 2015). The latter group benefits from the opportunity to engage more customers and reinforce their brand at local level by being represented in the offers list.

Customer experience might be the main differentiation point of BID, especially in an age largely defined by an incessant use of technology to aid purchase decisions (Econsultancy, 2015). The Global Digital Marketing Trends as of August 2015 according to Kemp illustrate a 3 billion figure for active internet users with 2.2 billion users also patronizing social media (Kemp, 2015). The need for digital marketing has risen rapidly over the past few years, and according to Charlton in 2015 – 77% of companies stated an inadequate marketing budget while 48% stated a tight restriction on overall digital marketing budget (Charlton, 2015). The figures in the Internet of Things suggest that by 2020 there will be 4 billion connected people over the internet (Shewan, 2015). As a result, a radical integration of the consumer experience across physical and virtual environments is expected (Bommel E., Edelman D., Ungerman K., 2014) where in order to obtain a competitive advantage the offerings are suggested to be properly designed and delivered for well-defined target markets (Kotler, 2012).

3. The Big Heart of Swansea customer experience

In considering the BHS' customer experience journey from the initial starting point a tourist who is planning to go to Swansea for a couple of days is searching the Internet for information regarding leisure time in Swansea. For instance, he/she uses keywords such as ‘Swansea shopping'. The list of connected word combinations might be seen through Google Ads free keywords tool. However, as we can see through incognito window in the the Big Heart of Swansea website is ranked on the 7th position and significantly BID website is ranked even lower – 11th position searched through keywords – ‘Swansea business'. To improve visibility of a website in search engine the technique of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is used which enables better search over the Internet for keywords (Jain, 2013). Without proper SEO settings the search is based solely on mathematical algorithms of assumed relevance and popularity ranking (Fishkin, 2015).

If marketing has one goal, it is to reach consumers at the moment that most influences their decision to purchase. In this case, there is a very low probability that the tourist would satisfy his needs by BID's propositions. This first step is extremely important as initial consideration which is represented in McKinsey's circular journey of the decision-making process. The next three phases are active evaluation, closure, and postpurchase (see Figure 3.1.) (Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., Jørgen O. V., 2009).

Figure 3.1. The consumer decision journey

Even if the tourist finds the information regarding loyalty cards, signs up and completes the form on the website The Big Heart of Swansea, he might have to wait up to two weeks for it to be delivered. If only he decides to collect it in person at one of the eleven available locations (Big Heart of Swansea, 2015), it might be more convenient. At this step we see the congruence of online and offline customer's initial consideration.

The second phase of the process is active evaluation, or the process of researching potential purchases (Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., Jørgen O. V., 2009). It starts when the loyalty card holder is considering the variety of offers provided by Big Heart of Swansea businesses. There are three main sources of information regarding latest offers for card holders: website, social media and leaflet issued together with the loyalty card. It is suggested that BID uses each channel for targeting a specific audience.

On the Big Heart of Swansea website and in the leaflets the offers are divided into six categories: Shopping & Fashion, Health & Beauty, Home, Food & Drink, Leisure & Hobbies and Miscellaneous (Big Heart of Swansea, 2015). Such segmentation is sensible for companies in order to better match of customer needs and more effective target communications. It is believed that the customized marketing is most successful because of unique approach to each individual customer (David Jobber and John Fahy, 2009). The messaging could not therefore be the same. Combining segmentation with cross-channel capability allows increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing campaigns (Moore, 2014).

Since the launch both Swansea BID and Big Heart of Swansea social media presence has grown (BID, 2015) to 3,772 Facebook followers and 2,121 Twitter followers (dated to 11.12.2015). Facebook data suggests the Big Heart of Swansea needs to target the 18–24 age range as the biggest demographic using this social network (Patterson, 2015). Although, it is impossible to categorise messaging like on the website, BID daily provides continues update of offers and upcoming events through its social media channels. It is suggested that digital channels no longer just represent ‘a cheaper way' to interact with customers; they are critical for executing promotions, stimulating sales, and increasing market share (Bommel E., Edelman D., Ungerman K., 2014). However, we can see a low outreach of their posts through few ‘likes' and ‘shares'.

The reason of low outreach and popularity of the Big Heart of Swansea social media might be because of inconsostent social media marketing (SMM) policy, as we can see, for instance, by changing logo of the Big Heart of Swansea (see Figure 1).




   Original logo   Logo for  Logo for  Logo for

    Eastern holidays   Christmas holidays   Purple Flag campaign

Figure 1. Changing logo of Big Heart of Swansea Facebook page

The next phase is closure, moment of purchase  (Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., Jørgen O. V., 2009). When the tourist finds a special offer according to his needs and wants he might use his loyalty card. Hypothetically there are two options of its implementation: to issue a loyalty card in person in the moment of purchase at physical store or redeem it through smartphone The Big Local App as BID stated (Swansea City Centre, 2015). Although this app contains detailed lists of Swansea City Centre businesses, it works too slowly and is not user friendly. Actually, it is impossible to find information regarding the Big Heart of Swansea. Furthermore, the option to redeem vouchers does not work.   

The inconsistency in customer journey might negatively influence the last phase ‘postpurchase' experience which shapes the customer's opinion built on his expectations and experience in order to contribute to next decision journey in an ongoing cycle (Court D., Elzinga D., Mulder S., Jørgen O. V., 2009). As we can see the integration of all company's communications choosing proper options is essential in order to reinforce the Big Heart of Swansea marketing campaign (Kotler, 2012) both in physical and virtual environment. As mentioned previously, the last phase takes into consideration that customers after enjoying a product will advocate and bond it. Instead of focusing on how to allocate spending across media, BID marketers should therefore target stages in the decision journey (Edelman, 2010).

McKinsey suggests BID needs to develop four capabilities to provide an interconnected holistic customer journey: automation, proactive personalization, contextual interaction and journey innovation (Edelman David, Singer Marc, 2015). Each capability is aimed at formulating of better value proposition that is based on identification of customers wants from a product or service (Silvia Martelo, Carmen Barroso, Gabriel Cepeda, 2013) where Big Data analysis plays a significant role. Advanced technologies enable a data collection anywhere at any time (Michael Chui, Markus Löffler, Roger Roberts, 2010). Currently BID does not use data to segment and target customers. Although there is a social tension regarding personal privacy, Big Data enables a real-time personalization and targeting, which could increase purchases of higher-margin products by its most valuable customers. BID therefore is not able to provide testing hypotheses and analyzing results of marketing campaigns to guide its investments properly, what could reduce the variability of outcomes. (Brad Brown, Michael Chui, and James Manyika, 2011)

4. Conclusions

The Swansea BID, a Non for Profit organization, is aimed at improving a business environment in Swansea City Centre, in particular though its marketing campaign ‘The Big Heart of Swansea'. The report shows that currently BID is facing challenges in a complex environment with advanced technologies.

This study has analysed a customer experience on example of a tourist exploring a loyalty card scheme ‘The Big Heart of Swansea'. The case reported here illustrates that main weakness of customer experience is a low brand visibility of marketing campaign. The relevance of it is clearly supported by current findings. The website suffers from low awareness because of lack of proper Search Engine Optimisation settings. Social media marketing has low outreach despite of daily posts and continues increase of followers. The changing logo negatively influences a brand visibility in social networks as well. The proposed mobile application does not conduct the purchase options and decrease attractiveness of the Big Heart of Swansea marketing campaign and BID as well. Although BID provides segmentation and targeting through six categories listed on the Big Heart of Swansea website, the lack of Big Data collection may cause obstacles in a real-time personalization and targeting for BID customers.

The findings of this investigation have significant implications for BID goals, presented in its Business Strategy Plan. In general, therefore, it seems that in order to extend value creation it is needed an holistic approach to implementation of the customer value delivery (Walters, 1999) through consumer decision journey (McKinsey, 2014), where integration of the consumer experience across physical and virtual environments is expected.

The consumer decision journey tends to be more integrated and ongoing cycle while traditional ‘funnel' approach is more straightforward narrowing potential brands to eventually one product. Rather than solely to record a history of the customer, the consumer decision journey approach suggest the companies themselves shape this experience.

In order to continue growth BID needs to review and rethink its marketing strategy regarding the Big Heart of Swansea in terms of digitalization and integration of each phase in customer experience. Instead of focusing on how to allocate spending across media, BID marketers should therefore target stages in the decision journey and create awareness through identification of the Big Heart of Swansea logo which represents all things important in Swansea.

5. Recommendations

Low brand visibility of the Big Heart of Swansea marketing campaign as main problem identified in this report could be solved though implementation of digital marketing tools. Therefore, the Noob Guide to Online Marketing (Gardner, 2015), developed version of ‘Marketing Growth Wheel' (Bosomworth, 2012), would help to keep the Swansea BID on track to improve digital marketing strategy through elements such as Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per-Click option, Google Ads, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and Analytics (see figure 5.1). It might improve on the Big Heart of Swansea digital image and reputation, and increase digital interactivity with BID target audiences.

Figure 5.1. Noob Guide to Online Marketing

In this report it is suggested to use the AA RRR Metrics model (McClure, 2007) to assist the use of Noob Guide in terms of how to focus on customers and narrow down target audiences. On this base the Digital Marketing Roadmap (see figure 5.2) was developed to demonstrate the connections between AA RRR Metrics and digital marketing elements recommended for further implementation. The considered Facebook statics mentioned previously is taken into account in this roadmap as it is more focused on engagement of working age population that seem to be main target audience of virtual marketing.   

Figure 5.2. The Digital Marketing Road for the Big Heart of Swansea.

The first step is Acquisition. Noob Guide suggest to focus each marketing campaign around organization's website as main source of information. SEO is therefore extremely important to let new people discover the Big Heart of Swansea. Free keywords option, provided by Google Ads, is therefore recommended to use. Furthermore, it is always possible to provide better-paid search through Pay-Per Click option.

The second step is Activation, where SMM could be a main marketing channel to reach young audience. Creating events, organized in Swansea City Centre, in Facebook is therefore recommended as 64% of Facebook's monthly active users return every single day. Every post should be supported by call to action as well (Summers, 2015) with link to relevant website page. The continuously updated content with nice pictures or short videos about how it was before could attract more people to attend current events, festivals.

The third step is Retention of main target audience where subscription option on the Big Heart of Swansea website is recommended to provide. Nowadays, it is easy regularly to create automated mass newsletter campaigns via Mailchimp or Unisender. With right content marketing and again nice pictures, BID would reach high results.

Here it is also important to develop own mobile application to enable purchases with loyalty cards for their holders. This app should be considered from user and interface experiences (UX/IX) in contrast to Big Local App.

The next step is Referral. People love stories. So, Content marketing is suggested in the blogs on the Big Heart of Swansea website and with interesting stories what is happening in Swansea City Centre and engagement of experts to give useful recommendations for Swansea residents. It is assumed that small and medium businesses would be able to propose their offers here as well.

The audience is reached and retained but it is important not to forget to measure the success. In this case, Google Analytics will be useful. It is free and very user friendly. There is no need to engage specialists to work with it. However, with Google Analytics BID will know better its audience and the results of online marketing campaigns.

Swansea BID should try to create a new role in their team in terms of customer experience designers taking into account listed recommendations that could help to ensure more valuable cross-channel customer experience journeys along with big data collection based on the AA RRR Metrics. However, it is firstly suggested to provide further research regarding target audience and its wants to maximize the effectiveness of mentioned marketing tools, as these recommendations were based to some extent on assumptions because of lack of access to all internal information of Swansea BID.   

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