In this series on managing the digital revolution, Ari Aronson and Stephan Argent collect insights from both the agency and the brand sides of the street.
This week, Marketing contributor Stephan Argent chats with Angela Scardillo, Vice President, Marketing & Communications for Best Buy Canada, to get an idea how the company is navigating its way through the digital marketing revolution.
Angela, talk about your vision for the future of digital at Best Buy.
We don’t look at digital as just a marketing activity – it’s a company-wide priority as it impacts all areas of our business. We interact digitally with our customers throughout their shopping journey with us. From research to purchase and giving us feedback or reviews, digital interaction is a key part of our customer experience. So whether it’s an ecommerce transaction or a specific marketing play – we always think about it from a customer-first viewpoint.
This year, we’re focusing on developing more relevant digital content – everything from re-targeted display ads that are personalized for each customer to ‘how to’ videos helping customers get the most out of their tech device.
What areas of digital do you do in-house vs. outsource?
Generally it all starts here at Best Buy and almost all our digital work is done in-house – we have an incredible capacity to do that here. We’ve invested in hiring skilled talent, and are continuing to strengthen our in-house digital capabilities.
If you’ve read Tony Hsieh’s book – Delivering Happiness – in which he talks about why he’d never outsource his call centre – I feel the same way about digital. We understand our business and our customers more than anyone else, and given the importance of digital and the speed of retail, we feel that an in-house team is best positioned to deliver the best customer experience.
I don’t want to knock the value our agencies bring to the table – both our brand agency, Union and our media agency, The Media Experts, come to us with strong digital ideas and we collaborate on how to bring those ideas to life. I have a ton of respect for agencies and love working with them because it gives us the opportunity to be challenged on our thinking and deliver fresh and innovative ideas.
How has digital impacted your marketing org chart?
We’re very integrated here at Best Buy. Our digital marketing team reports into our brand marketing team, but we also have digital specialists and expertise in almost every area of our business from e-commerce, merchandising, to our media and communications teams.
From a budget point of view, digital marketing isn’t just its own line item. Of course we have display ads, paid search and mobile ads, but digital marketing is also included in many other areas. For example, we have a printed flyer – but we also have a digital flyer. We’ll have experiential campaigns executed by street teams that are then turned into pre-roll video and promoted on social media. So you can see, it makes sense to integrate digital marketing throughout the budget.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing from a digital perspective?
The biggest challenge is the speed of change. There are new opportunities to consider almost every week. We want to make sure we are always learning and evaluating new digital initiatives to ensure we deliver the most relevant messages in the most effective ways.
What are the key expectations from your agencies from digital perspective?
Every agency partner needs to understand our business.
It’s our responsibility to ensure our partners recognize and understand that everything we do requires a strong ROI. If whatever they’re recommending isn’t going to move our business, then we’re not going to do it. We strive to expose our partners to the inner workings of our business to help them fully understand both our company and our marketing objectives.
What key lessons have you learned as an organization when it comes to digital?
The biggest lesson is to keep trying new things, and not to be afraid to fail. We do a lot of testing of different digital tools and tactics. We learn what’s most effective, then we refine and scale up.
What’s the one thing you’d like your agencies to do better from digital perspective?
We love hearing about wonderful and exciting new digital ideas, and we’re open to trying them! It’s important, however, that agencies can bring those ideas to life in a way that fits our business.
I think agencies who demonstrate that they understand both the marketing and business challenges of their clients will make the most valuable partners.
Stephan Argent is president at The Argedia Group, an agency management consultancy.