Should we digitalize everything? Evidence from the Fine-dining Restaurants in France

Digitalization is probably the term, which is omnipresent in your daily life. However, what does the digitalization exactly mean for companies? Should we digitalize everything? To what extent services could be digitalized? Could we have the same degree of digitalization for high-end and low-end services?

Recently, we have conducted a research on service digitalization of fine-dining restaurants in France in order to know what customers and the restaurant professionals think about the digitalization of fine-dining experience. The following figure highlights the key findings of our study and underlines the perceived benefits and costs of service digitalization for both restaurant managers and their customers.

Source: Vo-Thanh et al. 2022

As we can see from the figure that 100% digitalization is not possible for fine-dining restaurants. Fine-dining restaurants are highly experience-centric compared to other types of restaurants and customers want to relax, enjoy haute cuisine experience and interact with the chef & frontline employees. For example, in many fast-food chains (e.g., Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s), where speed of service is critical and menus are simpler, digitalizing the whole customer journey or incorporating the use of SST (Self-Service Technology) has been a great success and will continue to play an increasingly important role. However, in the context of fine-dining restaurants, where the aim is to deliver a superior and memorable experience to customers, 100% digital interaction (i.e., radical digitalization) is not the best solution because of the existential foundation of fine-dining restaurants—their experiential and symbolic dimensions—and their customers’ expectations. Therefore, the lack of human interaction is the biggest obstacle to digitize the dining experience.

Illustration of High-Tech VS High-Touch Restaurant
(Photo of SST in Burger King & Chef Alain Ducasse 3* Michelin Chef)

Our study also finds that the digitalization could help restaurants to optimize their performance (e.g., quick task accomplishment, staff performance improvement, reduce psychological waiting time, etc.). Therefore, our study highlights how restaurant managers may find a balance between the high-tech and high-touch in order to provide the best fine-dining experience to their guests.

Main research : Vo-Thanh, T., Zaman, M., Hasan, R., Akter, S. & Dang-Van, T. (2022). The service digitalization in fine-dining restaurants: A cost-benefit perspective. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (forthcoming).

Digital Marketing Jargons – Focus on Ads

In my previous posts on Digital Marketing Jargons, I was talking about Website related Jargons and Search Engine related Jargons. In this post, I’m going to focus on Advertisements. Hope this will be very helpful for the beginners of Digital Marketing.

Analytics or Web Analytics Tools : The analysis of data generated by people’s activity on websites or mobile apps, for the purpose of discovering ways to improve websites and marketing campaigns. For instance, you can use web analytics tools to come up with ideas to redesign your website. For this Website – www.upnotion.com , we use Google Analytics in order to know from where people are reading our blog and how they are coming to our site.

App (Application) : A program designed to run on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. For instance, for planning my vacation, I used a travel app to make my hotel reservation. All of us are using a dozen of App on our Smartphones.

Natural Listings or Organic Listings : Results from a search engine that are not paid adverts. The higher my website ranks in a search engine’s natural listings, the more website traffic I’ll get. We will talk more about it in our SEO section.

Paid Listings : Advertisements that appear on search engines results pages. You may think about paying to have your website appear in the paid listings. It can bring more customers to your website.

Banner Ad : A form of advert found on web pages and mobile applications, usually in image format. For instance, you may use banner ads to bring new customers to your website.

Click­through Rate (CTR) : The number of times people click on an item of interest, like an advert, in comparison to the number of times users are exposed to that item. For example, my click­through rate on ads about homemade muffins is 3%.

Conversion or Goal : The action you want visitors to perform. Examples include e­commerce purchases, form submissions, phone calls, and video views. For instance, your main goal is for people to book a consultation on my website, but signing up for my email newsletter would also be a conversion.

Conversion Optimization : The process of increasing the percentage of visitors who complete your goals.

Conversion Rate : The ratio of conversions to visits, often used to measure digital performance. I’m not sure why, but my conversion rate on external painting is very low for male visitors.

Cost per Click (CPC) : The amount of money required to produce a single click on a digital advertisement.

Pay­Per­Click (PPC) : An advertising system in which advertisers pay for users to click on their advertisements. For example, if you are running an ad on Google Search Engine, and the PPC is 1 euro. That means each time, when someone is going to click on your ad, you will pay 1 euro to Google.

Impressions : The number of times an advert is displayed. My new marketing campaign for homemade muffins has received thousands of impressions, but I’m not sure if I’ve booked any sales yet.

Cost-Per-Mille (CPM) : A pricing model where the publisher charges a flat rate for 1,000 displays or impressions of an advertisement to the audience.

Cost-Per-Acquisition or Cost-Per-Action (CPA) : A pricing model where the payment only takes place when the user performs the action such as installation, click, or converting to the lead. It’s very common is Affiliation  Marketing.

Digital Marketing Jargons – Focus on Website

In my previous post on “Digital Marketing Jargons“, I focused on Search Engine. Here, I’m going to focus on Website related terms that we need to understand.

Website : A set of related web pages located under a single domain name, typically produced by a single person or organization.

Content ­ The digital material available to users, via text, video, audio, images, etc. Fresh content is highly important for SEO.

E­commerce : The sale of products and services online.

Home Page : The introductory or “main” page of a website.

Landing Page : The first page on a website that a person usually sees—not necessarily the home page of that website. The landing page is highly important for brands as it can reduce the bounce rate and improve the Ad Quality Score.

Blog : A regularly updated website written by an individual, typically in a conversational style, and focused on a specific subject.

HTML ­: Hypertext Markup Language. A language used by web developers to create websites.

Link ­: A text or image that provides a link from one web page or website to another.

URL or Uniform Resource Locator : The unique address of a page or piece of digital content on the Internet. Please note that it’s not your domain name, but URL = Domain name + name of the page.

Unique Visitor : A single visitor to a website during a specific period of time. No matter how many times Uncle Bob visits my website, he’s still just one unique visitor.

Session or Visit : A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example a single session can contain multiple page views and e­commerce transactions. My website got 5,000 visits last month, but what I really care about is whether those visits resulted in sales.

Digital Marketing Jargons – Focus on Search Engine

This post is for the beginners who want to update the Digital Marketing Vocabulary and explore the endless opportunities that digital may bring for their their business. I’m going to write them in several posts with explanations.

Search Engine : A search engine is a platform that is designed to carry out web searches. For example, Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. Some search engines are popular in some countries but not really used in the other part of the world. For example, in France, Google is on the top with 94% market share. But, if you are planning to traget customers from the US, you should focus on Google and Bing. Because the US customers use both of them. If you are plnning to hit the Chinese Market, you should take into consideration Baidu. So, it’s highly imporant to know which search engine is the most popular among the customers that you are planning to reach.

Keyword :­ A word or a phrase typed into a search engine, which businesses can target as part of their advertising campaigns.

Search Term­ or Query : The keyword or phrase a user types into a search engine in order to find what they’re looking for. You can read our article on Long-tail Keywords in order to know more about the different types of Keyword. For example, when people use the search term “the most beautiful cities to visit in Europe”, they might be looking for the informations on different European cities, rankings by tourists, tips on how and when to travel/visit, etc. You may use Google Trends (which is a free online tool) to get more insights on a search term.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) ­: A list of results appearing in a search engine in response to a user’s search query. For example, after I searched for “the most beautiful cities to visit in Europe”, I noticed that the SERP had listings of different cities, travel bolgs, review and rating websites, hotels, etc. One of the objectives of Digital Marketing is to optimize the visibility of your brand (product or service) and it’s highly important that your brand/website appears on the 1st page of the SERP. Multiple studies confirm that 85% of the internet users only consult the results from the 1st page (vs. only 10% from the 2nd page).

Ranking :­ A listing’s position on a search engine results page. For example, when you use the search term “Upnotion Digital Marketing” on Google, our website has the #1 ranking on search engine. Ranking is highly important for your website because it can increase the average time spent (by the visitors on your website) and reduce the bounce rate (Bounce rate is the percentage of users who visit a page and then immediately leave).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ­: The practice of making changes to web pages, content, and the promotion of that content to improve visibility in the organic—or unpaid—search engine results. Investing in SEO will help your website to get a higher ranking in search engine results.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Search Engine Advertising (SEA) : A form of advertising that allows you to bid for your advertisement to show along with search results for keywords that people are typing in. This lets businesses be seen by people at the very moment they’re searching for the things a business offers. The SEO takes time and it’s a long process, but using SEM will help companies to get a lot more website traffic really quickly.

How social media data can influence consumers’ attitudes towards cosmetic brands? The case of Maybelline

This aim of this research was to understand how French consumers’ use of social media data influences their perceptions of cosmetic brands. The first observation is the recurrence of expectations on social media from the consumer point of view. This notion of expectation describes the entire attitudes and behaviours consumers think a brand should have on social media.

Source: Hasan, Zaman & Princet (2021)

Results show that the more the brand meets consumers’ expectations, the higher their attitude towards the brand. More precisely, consumers may have a more positive attitude towards Maybelline if the brand provides them with valuable true data / information about the products. The first expectation consumers have of the cosmetic brands is product oriented, and indeed, these results show consumers’ positive attitudes towards a cosmetic brand, such as Maybelline, is first and foremost based on trust regarding the quality and function of each product.

In the context of social media, advocacy could consist of active social participation by liking, commenting, or sharing the brand’s content, such as posts or photos, and it was demonstrated that watching pictures related to the brand has a positive impact on consumers’ purchase intentions related to cosmetic products. This result is not very surprising, especially when we consider most respondents are active users of Instagram, which is a photo-based social media. Our results show that in addition to product-oriented expectations, consumers also expect brands to put forward their visual identity to stimulate a purchase intention in their minds.

Therefore, this orientation to the product is still linked to the notion of trust, which had the strongest significance when analysing the relationship between the consumers’ online activities and their attitudes towards the brand’s products. The millennials and generation Zers differ from previous generations and are well connected to their friends, colleagues, and peers. This is reflected in their considering their fellow consumers’ and friends’ opinions as more reliable than any company source or other marketing activities.

The source of information / data in term of trust is highly important as social medias have been widely used to spread fake news. For example, in the USA, 80% of the consumers have seen fake news during the COVID-19 outbreak. In France, around 35% of the online reviews are inappropriate as most of these reviewers write their reviews without trying the product/service. Therefore, cosmetic brands should facilitate consumers’ social participation, which will help them gain visibility and the consumers’ and their peers’ trust.
Although, UGCs, especially sWOM (Social Word of Mouth), have a significant influence on brands, our results confirm that consumers’ attitudes towards sponsored online recommendations strongly influence their attitudes towards cosmetic brands. Therefore, our findings suggest that consumers do pay little attention to organic or sponsored recommendations; instead, they are looking for trustworthy and pertinent information. In the context of retargeting marketing in social media, brands should take into consideration this behaviour as customers (social media users) pay little attention to the origin of the advertising and they only want the pertinent information.

Source: Hasan, R., Zaman, M. & Princet, E. (2021). How social media data can influence consumers’ attitudes towards cosmetic brands? The case of Maybelline. International Journal of Big Data Management, (forthcoming).

The potential of chatbots in travel and tourism services in the context of social distancing : Focus on Habit

As many other sectors, the travel and tourism industries faced great challenges following the Covid-19 pandemic, with confinements and border closures bringing travel to a halt. In this regard, the purpose of our research was to examine tourists’ chatbot usage intentions in service encounters within the context of a future international travel, assuming continued social distancing. Our results indicate that automation, habit, social presence and health consciousness all contributed positively to chatbot usage intentions (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 : Proposed model by Hasan, Koles, Zaman & Paul (2021)

Our results highlight that the habit of using such services (e.g., messaging apps, etc.) strongly influences the chatbots use intention, and it is even more significant when tourists have experienced a lockdown. During the lockdown, most of the people were working from home and they were forced to use/adopt new communication tools (e.g., Zoom, Teams, etc.). Therefore, our research underlines that these habits are going to stay and tourists will prefer to use chatbots.

According to Statista (2021), more than 2 billion people are using WhatsApp and 1.3 billon are using Facebook Messenger every month (see Fig. 2). As people are already habituated to messaging apps, they would like to talk to chatbots. Therefore, the chatbots could be an
effective communication and service delivery tool for the service providers.

Fig. 2 : Most popular global mobile messenger apps as of July 2021, based on number of monthly active users (Source: Statista, 2021)

Do we have some evidences from the travel and tourism industry ?

Yes. We do ! Skyscanner (leading flight comparison website and online travel agency), which was one of the early adopters of chatbots in travel industry, affirmed that 69% of the customers preferred chatbots for quick communication with the brand and in February 2018, Skyscanner recorded more than 1 million customer interactions via their chatbot. KLM (Dutch Airline Group) also saw a 40% increase of customer interactions through its Facebook Messenger channel. In an earlier study, Oracle highlighted that 80% of the business would have integrated chatbots by 2020.

The Covid-19 has certainly changed the customer beahviour and their way of travelling. Service firms should explore these opportunities in order to enhance the customer experience.

Our original research on this topic : Hasan, R., Koles, B., Zaman, M. and Paul, J. (2021). The potential of chatbots in travel and tourism services in the context of social distancing. International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning, 13(1), 63–83.

Why “Long-tail Keywords” are important for your Website?

When it comes to Keywords, as a brand or e-commerce website, you should ask yourself the following questions:

WHAT type of keywords do customers type/use when they are searching for something ? How do they type them ? Where do they type them ?

We can use some free tools such as Google Trends and Google Ads Keyword Planner for more insights. There are also many others : Ubbersuggest, Keyword Tool, Soovle, SEMrush (Premium), Wordstream Keyword Tools (premium), MOZ Keyword Difficulty (Premium), etc. Each of them has its own advantages and/or disadvantages. However, choosing one over the other is down to personal preference and previous experience.

Usually, we can have two types of keyword: Short & Long-tail. Long-tail keywords usually represent 80% of all traffics of a Website. They help companies to attract qualified audience (people who are exactly looking for your product/service). In addition, the competition is often low for these keywords and companies will have a better ROI.

Copyright : MustafeedZaman

How to use Google Keyword Planner ?

The Google Ads Keyword Planner is not only effective for SEA, but also for SEO. This free tool allows Marketing Professionals to research potential keywords to use in their campaigns and ad groups. In this Video, B. Mangold (from Loves Data) explains how you can use the Google Ads Keyword Planner and choose right keyword suggestions in order to reach your target group.

Please note that in order to use Keyword Planner effectively, you will need to enter billing details for the account and have an active campaign. If you don’t, then you won’t see precise data in the tool.

How “Google Search” Works ?

Some of you might not be very familiar with “Google Search” and as Digital Marketing Professors, we have found that it is not very clear to our students although they do spend a lot of time on Searching information/things on Google/Bing… (and on other Search Engines). So, we share this small video from “Google”, which is very well illustrated with the examples and we hope that it will help you to know about how Google Search works, including how Google’s software indexes the web, ranks sites, flags spam, and serves up results.