Fingertip Marketing With Widgets
That is the basic premise behind "widgets," the little web-enabled applications that run on a computer's desktop--outside of a browser or a cluttered inbox.
Widgets can be successful if they put what your customers want right at their fingertips. Literally. For example:
One of the first widgets Euro RSCG Edge built started out as a mouse pad. Our client, Barclays Global Investors, printed their product list of iShares funds on mouse pads. iShares customers--financial professionals mostly--couldn't get enough of these mouse pads. The pads put the complete list of iShares funds and their ticker symbols right where advisors could see it and reference it without having to stop what they were doing. They didn't have to dig through a stack of folders or visit a Web site that they probably couldn't remember the address to anyway.
After a few years, the list of iShares funds grew too long to fit on a mouse pad. So the company started printing them on laminated sheets that advisors would pin to their walls. These, too, were very popular until the company started releasing so many new iShares funds that they were going to need a poster. Additionally, it was difficult--and expensive--to keep printing up-to-date laminated sheets.
Hence our idea: We needed an electronic mouse pad. We needed to put the iShares product list in a widget.
The idea had its skeptics. Some worried that no one would install a widget--that their audience, older financial professionals, would be scared off by the technology. Or worse, that financial institutions wouldn't let their employees install new software on their computers.
About a year and a half ago, our clients took a deep breath and authorized a "test" widget program, and the iShares Quick Finder widget was born. Euro RSCG Edge promoted the widget on the iShares.com Web site, using email marketing and even a few banners. And you know what? People installed it. And used it. And they even clicked on the widget--which opened a browser and took them to the Web site. We even found that the widget generated repeat visits.
It's not that the results were so earth-shattering that the company canceled all other forms of marketing. However, it was successful enough that our clients started tracking it like a normal part of their media mix. And enough people were using the widget that we were authorized to build a second one.
Widgets provide an opportunity for marketers to reach their most valuable customers--current customers who use their products on a frequent basis. And unlike more traditional forms of advertising that can come off as ... well ... advertising, widgets can be seen as providing content that your customers want. It's the ultimate opt-in program. And who can deny the brand-building power of having your company's logo as an icon or a dashboard that sits on your customer's computer desktop every day?
Unlike the high ongoing costs of paid advertising, widgets can be relatively affordable. There's a one-time build cost and then some periodic maintenance or upgrades.
If you're trying to target your existing customers--and you have content that these customers want at their fingertips--a widget is worth considering. Of course, there's always a mouse pad.