Differentiating with digital

Target created A Bullseye View a little more than two years ago as an innovative digital platform to achieve a deeper level of engagement with those who have an interest in all things Target. Billed as a behind-the-scenes magazine, A Bullseye View was recently relaunched to incorporate new features and functionality to build upon its original mission. The corporate and social public relations team responsible for the initiative is led by Eric Hausman, who spoke recently with Target Supplier News about what’s different, why content rules and the role of brands in the publishing space.

TSN: Target is known for doing things differently and A Bullseye View is certainly a unique communications platform within the retail industry. How did the idea come about?

EH: We wanted to find a way better to connect with media, bloggers, brand advocates and others to tell a more complete, and richer, Target story. And we knew we needed to go beyond traditional earned media. We created A Bullseye View to complement our other owned media channels, like Twitter and Facebook.
 
TSN: Once the vision was in place, talk about some of the challenges that had to be overcome to execute an entirely new communications platform in the rapidly changing digital space.

EH: There are always challenges to disruption. Two years ago, the idea of brands publishing their own content was still pretty new, so one of the biggest challenges was to convince our own internal teams to jump aboard a new way of communicating with our audiences. We were fortunate to get early buy-in from our senior leaders, which made launching the new site much easier.

TSN: Talk about some of the key learnings in the two years since the launch of A Bullseye View.

EH: The most important learning is to remember your objective and always publish with a specific result in mind. For example, why would anyone want to read this, who would want to share it, etc. It’s also important to focus on quality over quantity. And be consistent, while also being open to trying new ideas.

TSN: What has surprised you most during that time? What have you noticed regarding visitor’s content preferences?

EH: Perhaps the most surprising is seeing which content performs the best, and which content doesn’t do as well as we thought it would. Sometimes, it can be really hard to predict, and there are many factors that can contribute to a story’s success.  One constant has been that our audience continues to be interested in content directly tied to the Target brand. For example, our 50th anniversary story about Target firsts, published in May 2012, continues to be one of our top-viewed stories each month.

TSN: A Bullseye View is clearly more about content than commerce. Why not integrate the two more closely?

EH: A Bullseye View is less about generating sales in the short-term, but rather a long-term effort to build brand love and guest engagement through authentic content. One area of opportunity for us is to better connect our digital properties without losing what makes each one unique and successful.

TSN: Turning to the recent relaunch, talk about the key changes that were made and the insights that prompted them.

EH: Our regular readers will see right away the many changes and updates to A Bullseye View. For example, we introduced responsive design because we know more and more people are reading content on the go. We designed the site for mobile first, and responsive design means the site seamlessly expands and shrinks to neatly fit any of the hundreds of screen sizes and devices people use today when consuming content. We also made the homepage more visual. The new homepage features a greater emphasis on compelling imagery and design, as well as even more stories for visitors to discover. We added commenting functionality which gives our audiences the ability to further engage with our content. Another key upgrade involved photo and video hubs. For an easy way to see our favorite photos and videos, we’ve captured the best ones in one easy location.

TSN: What is the thought process behind the type of content that is suitable for inclusion? For example, with regard to upcoming designer collaborations, sometimes those are announced via a press release or during meetings with investors, but other times Target has used A Bullseye View to break news.

EH: Announcing news is always a cross-team effort, and A Bullseye View is one of the many levers we can choose to pull. We’re choosing to break more and more news with A Bullseye View as opposed to a press release because in many cases, it is more effective. In other cases, we’ll make an announcement with a media outlet, then issue a press release and complement that with a story on A Bullseye View, with different assets being leveraged for each.

TSN: Is there a role for brands to play on A Bullseye View? What advice would you give to brands that want to help Target on the content front?

EH: Definitely. They key is compelling content. We’re not looking to be overly promotional. We’ve had great success including interviews and videos with partners who tell a story behind a product or initiative.

TSN: Social media is such a fast-moving space and Target strives to be on the leading edge of new developments. How do you see A Bullseye View evolving with new capabilities or enhanced content?

EH: At Target, we’re never satisfied with the status quo, so we’ll continue to look at new ways to enhance A Bullseye View. Stay tuned!