As the Internet becomes a more social place, Web widgets have become a popular way for marketers to spread their brand messages.
But are they worth their weight in embeddable chucks of code? It depends on your audience, said panelists in an eTail 2008 session on increasing the value of the user experience.
Jack Jia, CEO of social media firm Baynote, said a widget will only work for you if you have a loyal following. You can’t just throw one up and hope it helps build brand awareness.
“If you already have a network that has an affinity, then your widget will work,” Jia said. “But you can’t use a widget to create a network that doesn’t exist.”
And if you have that brand affinity, and a widget, you still need to let your followers know that you have one.
For that matter, you need to know if a widget is something your followers would use if it was available to them.
“We have a widget, but it has a very low adoption,” said Barbara Mousigian, senior director of e-commerce at CDW. “I can’t say that I can speak to exactly why, because it could be an awareness issue, or it could be a usage and adoption issue.”
And of course, Mousigian said the reason could very well be relevance. Just because a widget works with one audience doesn’t mean it will work with another.
Mousigian said marketers need to do their homework before they decide if a widget is right for their brand.
“Bright shiny objects only work if you give customers a relevant reason to use them,” Mousigian said. “The idea has to come first, and it has to come from the voice of customer information. And then the device needs to fulfill that idea. Too often, I think we get caught up in the device before we get the relevance.”
“I think you have to know your customer and know whether or not it makes sense,” added Rose Hamilton, senior director of e-marketing at Chico’s. “Is it going to provide a value, is it going to differentiate you in the customers eyes and in their wallets? At the end of the day, there’s something else that may be a better return on your energy to better serve that customer.”
But if it’s not going to take a lot of effort to build and deploy, Mike Madeo, chief Internet architect at QVC, said marketers may as well give it a shot.
“I think widgets are still up in the air,” Madeo said. “If you can put something together without too much effort, then it’s worth giving it a try.”