Indelible: Breaking ground in the digital space

It’s safe to say there’s been a seismic shift in the world of digital marketing turning conventional thinking on its head. It is also hardly a secret that everyone is rethinking their media spend with disproportionate percentages of their budgets now being allocated into the digital / mobile arenas. Needless to say, these profound shifts have their upside…at least as far as iNDELIBLE is concerned.

For those who aren’t familiar with iNDELIBLE, this Manhattan-based digital marketing company is known for blending world-class creative with consumer insight and technology. With the hope of gleaning some fresh insight, I interviewed iNDELIBLE CEO, Ross Glick, and Director of Digital Marketing, Derek Goode to discuss the current state of affairs in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Q: iNDELIBLE was launched in 1999 in a former SoHo sweatshop, when ‘digital marketing’ was emerging and still an enigma. But iNDELIBLE has always been known for its digital chops. How has the digital business changed since your beginning 12 years ago and who were your clients then and today?

Ross: When [Chief Creative Officer] Dimitri Falk and I came together, we were fully entrenched the field of digital video and content production, and helping reshape the discipline of shooting, encoding, and using new technology to push high-bandwidth content. One thing we learned is that being on the bleeding edge is not always a good thing…there is such a thing as being too far out there. We learned it’s all about timing and tying the right creative solution to clients’ business objectives.

Obviously, today’s Internet is profoundly different. In some ways good, some ways bad. Something I’m personally excited about is how we’ve moved from a monologue to a dialogue and campaigns are much more narrative-driven. One advantage iNDELIBLE has over our competition is we really do everything in house: that means overall creative strategy, design, video production and technology, social media activation and analytics and CRM. We’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most famous brands and cutting-edge marketers including, MAC COSMETICS, CHANEL, Allergan (Botox), Shering-Plough, Sears, K-Mart, Laura Mercier, Scoop, Viacom, Victoria’s Secret, Matrix Haircare, Playboy, Esquire and Ladies Home Journal, who have challenged us to always push envelope.

Q: Your agency was recently named a finalist at the Social Media Influencer awards for its work with Sears’ footwear division. Your agency also is a finalist in the 2011 “Best of the Web” awards for an online project for Ladies Home Journal. Can you offer a snapshot of these projects and what do you think made them stand out to the judges?

A: The Sears footwear division came to iNDELIBLE with multiple challenges: first, expand the customer base to a younger demographic while protecting the older core target; next, correct negative perceptions of the Sears footwear quality, brands and value; and finally improve customer experience across all channels.

Our solutions included creating a strong emotional connection with the wide spectrum of Sears’ consumers by segmenting the amorphous Sears footwear offering into four distinct sub categories: Fashion First, Family First, Fitness First and Work First. We elevated perception by leveraging celebrity authorities in each sub category to develop authentic content that evolved the relationship from a monologue to a dialogue and we created and fostered a robust social community by truly giving the consumers the ongoing ability to interact with the brand.

Since the campaign launched, revenue’s been up 67%, it’s considered most successful social campaign in Sears history. page views are up 160%.

Regarding Ladies’ Home Journal, our challenge was to bring the "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" column to the Internet age, and attract younger viewers. Our solution was deceptively simple: we ripped true tales of marital woes straight from the magazine, and transformed them into a series of outrageous webisodes. The videos became instant sensations, featured on the Today Show, and covered in The New York Times and other online/offline publications. An unintended benefit included over 100,000 consumers driven from to in less than 3 months.

Q: Experience commerce is a phrase getting lots of buzz right now. You’ve done projects with luxury retailer Scoop and cosmetics brand Laura Mercier where experience commerce was a critical component to these companies enhancing their online offering. How do you define experience commerce and what makes for a compelling experience commerce strategy?

A: We see experience commerce as a fusion of brand marketing and product merchandising that enables visitors to access an entertaining online experience that also serves as a portal to products they might like to buy. Experience commerce is fundamentally changing the way people shop and experience brands online. For Scoop, our objective was to develop and grow their online business and integrate that with their tradition retail channel. We fused e-commerce savvy with the polish of magazine editorial to help Scoop break through the digital clutter of online boutique shopping.

For Laura Mercier, we partnered with the cosmetic company to create their first-ever digital and social media campaign. Among other activities, we redesigned the entire Laura Mercier website and produced online banner ads, and integrated the brand’s national print campaign into Laura Mercier’s e-commerce side. Again we leveraged our social media experience to activate a separate social media strategy tied to the campaign.

Q: We’ve gotten wind of your plans to launch a Social Media “Listening Command Center.” Without giving away your secret sauce, can you tell us what this is about and how it will help your clients?

A: The Social Media Command Center will study, analyze and affect social behavior in real time with measurable results. We strongly believe that incorporating the millions of conversations into our client’s marketing at every facet is paramount and game changing for advertisers. Our idea is simple: we will turn the vast Internet into a navigable resource.

Q: Just over a decade ago, online commerce was simply a digital version of print. But iNDELIBLE and a handful of other companies have evolved online commerce to provide a much richer, deeper online shopping experience. As user experience is so important to a brand’s success online, what are the steps companies need to take to ensure a potent experience commerce offering?

A: Elements of a "good" experience commerce site include appropriateness, 'common sense' and bridging the gap between human expectations with business and technology requirements. We believe that to ensure the potency of an experience commerce initiative, social media activation must be employed. This means developing and delivering timely and engaging content to users.

Q: Everyone in the digital marketing world is trying to figure it out: how do marketers assess, measure and provide metrics for a social media campaign?

A: The entire social media industry has been hamstrung by the fact that Facebook won’t allow for companies to cookie their communities. By this, we mean the ability to attach a tag to each community member that would track consumer behavior (namely when it comes to activity on the brand’s website). This would ultimately allow advertisers to learn if communities were converting on their websites and how messaging was driving such conversion, similar to the way clicktags work within online display media.

While this is certainly an obstacle, at iNDELIBLE we believe that prior to any campaign, social or otherwise, it is mission-critical that we collaborate with our client’s to clearly define marketing objectives that drive our strategic and creative development which ultimately drives our metrics/analytics campaign. We track awareness, perception, loyalty, advocacy and even sales with multiple types of tracking strategies.

Q: ‘Mobile marketing’ and its sister discipline ‘location-based marketing’ are getting lots of attention this year. What are clients asking for in this, and what are the challenges in executing a mobile and/or location-based marketing campaign?

A: At this point every digital strategy we develop has both mobile and location based elements supporting the campaign of communicating with and adding relevant value to the consumer’s life. We develop platform-agnostic ideas across all platforms (iOS, Android, HTML5, etc.) creating a seamless and integrated experience for the consumer.

The biggest challenge is that no two brands will use mobile and location based marketing in the same way. iNDELIBLE develops the most creative, fun and relevant strategies to leverage each medium for our specific brand that ultimately serve to achieve our marketing objectives (from awareness, to relevance to perception). For one brand it might be location-based couponing whereas for another it might be a scavenger hunt or entertaining content, whereas for another brand, it might be a combination of them all.

Q: Another niche getting favorable reviews in the online marketing area is the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical company Allergen tapped iNDELIBLE to create interactive experiences for two of its major brands – in one case even developing a teen musical for one of them. Can you tell us more about these projects and how they are significant to the world of online pharma marketing?

A: iNDELIBLE was charged to introduce the world to ACZONE, a new Allergen brand in the competitive teen acne prescription market. With the success of GLEE and other musically inclined pop culture influences, we opted to bring ACZONE to life with song. On the surface, ACZONE: THE MUSICAL leveraged the success of High School Musical or Spring Awakening, but that's where the similarities end. ACZONE: THE MUSICAL was an exceptional mix of originally produced glam rock with dazzling motion graphics and first-class choreography. ACZONE: THE MUSICAL was backed up by a full-scale marketing campaign featuring rising star, Michael Welch of Twilight. In addition to being the centerpiece of the musical itself, he also promoted the musical at various red carpet events, high-profile exclusive interviews, and user-generated contests. The campaign reached a broader audience by a robust social media campaign.

The videos were viewable in a fully interactive website, complete with a 'Backstage Area' that boasted free music downloads, games and a look behind the scenes of the production. 

Regarding Botox, ever hear of Hyperhydrosis?  Well, neither had we (it means severe underarm sweating).  Our mandate from the branding team at Botox was to solve the following riddle: How does a brand engage, educate, and motivate sufferers via the internet, online publishers, and social channels to seek a doctor about a solution to their "cosmetically" defined medial condition? We were challenged to educate people that severe underarm sweating is a real medical condition treatable with Botox, while adhering to the stringent requirements of one of the most regulated industries in the world. Our inventive solution was a daytime talk show called "Ready, Sweat, Go!" hosted by Vanessa Branch (the Orbits gum girl).  iNDELIBLE directed and produced three episodes where women candidly dish about what it is like to live with this condition.

In addition to “Ready, Sweat, Go!”, iNDELIBLE fully redesigned Allergen's website  Architected to ultimately funnel viewers to the "Find a Dermatologist" tool, the website features additional educational videos, informational content and a dynamic self assessment test. This project was recognized by the OMMA Magazine awards as a finalist in web site excellence.

Q: What’s next for INDELIBLE? How will your craft change over the next few years? Any digital trends you want to forecast?

A: We see significant digital trends in three areas.

First, we believe the meaning of social marketing will be redefined. We now have the Internet technology readily available to track everything being said about brands, products, competitors and categories. We can isolate our pockets of influence, learn where our most enthusiastic customers converse and also identify our detractors. Brands will begin to hire agencies that have the capabilities of affecting these behaviors in real time.

Next, we will see a shift we call ‘the smart phone and tablet effect.’ In 2011 smart phones and tablets will trump PC sales. This means that the cloud will get exponentially larger by ways of the services offered through it: an increased number of applications and Software as a Service (SaaS). What this really means is an influx of interesting new ways for advertisers to integrate these services into digital marketing plans that add value to the consumers’ lives.

Finally, there will be a ‘move toward meaningful.’ The days of massive ad network buys are becoming extinct, or at least we hope. Brands need to influence their consumers more efficiently and more effectively. We contend that this will lead to smarter and more robust strategic partnerships between brands and publishers (from blogs to mega conglomerates). Content will be integrated, shared and ultimately result in more powerful marketing campaigns. As evidence of things to come, a publisher we recently met with regarding a digital campaign offered up their print properties as value add to the digital components. Ten years ago that would have been unthinkable.