Online Bake-Off

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Betty Crocker’s YouTube videos are winning my cake-baking loyalty. I’ve done more than my share of theme-based kid birthdays, each featuring a brightly colored sheet cake with a series of Playmobil figurines plopped on top. They impressed my toddler, but were nothing compared to Betty’s four-car train, purple and yellow flip flops, and sparkling pink princess cakes.

Betty headed online in the wake of another foodie brand maven: Martha Stewart released her holiday cookie recipe app in 2010, based on her popular “cookie” cookbook. I’ve got a big appetite for Martha’s app, and have been whipping up pecan Rugelach, molasses drops and chocolate crackles (impressing my now-teenager).

Betty Crocker’s series of how-to videos are grabbing eyeball share online, and Betty Crocker says they are building brand loyalty with viewers. While the average web video gets turned off 5-10[%] into viewing, Betty Crocker watchers stay glued to the screen for an average of 75[%] of the video. Martha’s baking app has definitely secured my loyalty – say what you like about her investment ethics, the woman’s cookie recipes are unfailingly interesting, reliable and delicious.

How about a loyalty bake-off between Martha and Betty? I’m always open to having more sweets in the house. But almost as important: When it comes to building online loyalty, how does the web compare to apps? What are each one’s pros and cons for transforming brand loyalty into the basics of lift, shift and retention?

The tasty hidden filling of any brand loyalty interaction is the data, which one way a program can create lift, but Betty isn’t capturing much here. Even if she sneaks tracker cookies into my web browser when I visit her site (and I’ve been watching on YouTube, not bettycrocker.com), Betty may recognize my computer when I return, but she doesn’t know who I am. Actually, Martha doesn’t either, because she hasn’t asked. An app can track – my Sims app offered me bonus game points for registering with my email address and a little demographic info. They haven’t emailed me yet but I expect this to start a dialog of how I’m using the game, hopefully with offers to buy discounted lifestyle points. Both an app and a web site can initiate this type of engagement with customers.

One way to maximize shift is through Word-of-Mouth. Martha’s app goes with me everywhere (my purse even has a special iPad pocket), which means it has sweeter WOM potential. I’ve shown Martha’s app to several friends, sharing recipes from my tablet. I’ve also emailed Betty’s cake video links to my baking-obsessed friends, but that’s not as powerful as sitting next to someone while you oooh and aaaah over sprinkles and piped rosettes. Mobility also means I take my tablet into the kitchen to use as a cookbook, but that’s a little trickier with a laptop video, where you have to lick the icing off your fingers before you hit “pause.”

The more engaged customers are, the better a brand’s chance at retention. If Martha knew who I was she could match my demographic data with my app use stats and email me cross-merchandise offers, like a discount on an Everyday Food subscription, or on the Cookies print cookbook (both of which I would snap up faster than you can scarf down a snickerdoodle). Maybe she could partner with King Arthur Flour and get me discounts on supplies (a girl can dream). She could help ensure that hers is the only baking app on my tablet, so that when I search for new cookie recipes, she is my first stop. Betty, however, is all push. Unless she can get me to her website, we’re just engaged in a one-way discussion in which she gives me video information and never really knows how I use it.

Martha has my loyalty, and Betty has my attention – it remains to be seen which electronic format does a better job of engaging me and other customers. Betty has me thinking of visiting her web site to see what treats are in store for a hardcore baker like me. Maybe I can even send in photos of my own flip-flop cake. The teenager is going to love that one.

Phaedra Hise
As Senior Editor, COLLOQUY, Phaedra leads the creation of new editorial pieces for multiple distinct content platforms in the COLLOQUY media enterprise: COLLOQUY magazine, the Enterprise Loyalty in Practice journal, COLLOQUY web site, COLLOQUY social media blog, COLLOQUY Network Partner content commitments as well as other LoyaltyOne vehicles.

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