How to Add Authenticity to Your Marketing Strategy

How to Add Authenticity to Your Marketing Strategy

(Originally posted in The Marketing Scope by Jack Holt, Mattr CEO)

If there’s one quality marketers desire from their content, it’s the perception of authenticity. We live in a time when being “fake” is the most heinous of all crimes— to be perceived as fake is to be shunned, discounted, and cast aside.

Brand authenticityDespite the buzz, it’s tough to tell exactly what constitutes authenticity in brands. The only sure thing is that authenticity brings in money: Consumers are willing to spend money in support of “real” brands.

So how do marketers achieve that genuine persona when consumers balk at anything homogenized as a contrived sales pitch?

The Difference Between Authenticity and a Sales Pitch

Last week, I spoke with the marketing lead at New Zealand-based gear manufacturer Minaal. Minaal’s team members are incredibly passionate about adventure travel. Unsurprisingly, they are fiercely protective of their brand’s persona: “We’ll never jeopardize our brand’s authenticity by doing something salesy,” they told me.

If Minaal is any indication of the future of marketing, advertisers will need to change their tactics fast. Authenticity is binary: Consumers see a message as either a genuine expression or a sales pitch.

The reality is that no amount of creativity can replace sincerity. We can create new ad platforms and novel content strategies, but consumers have become incredibly savvy about sales schemes. Across industries, marketing spend is growing by leaps and bounds, but click-through rates remain dismal.

Sometimes, it seems the more we strive for authenticity, the more we fail. But there are several keys to this holy grail of marketing — just be sure to employ them with sincerity. Here’s how:

1. Get the word out, one person at a time. 

Minaal is off to a solid start, partly because its marketing strategy involves meeting people and talking to them. Face-to-face interaction like this conveys a sincerity that encourages believers to tell their friends about a brand. But, of course, the old word of mouth doesn’t scale well. Under a Kickstarter campaign, Minaal rallied more than 1,600 people behind its brand.

It’s possible to attain scale without turning to big-name celebrities who are perceived as inauthentic. Consider micro-influencers — passionate people with large social followings — to add touches of authenticity to your brand.

2. Return to your roots.

Consumers love a brand that appreciates its heritage. In one study, consumers felt jeLevi Strauss brand authenticityans made by Levi Strauss in its original San Francisco location exuded the brand’s “true essence.” Consumers who learned about jeans made in a newer Levi Strauss factory perceived the product as significantly less authentic. Further, the individuals who rated the San Francisco jeans were willing to pay more for the “authentic” ones.

While returning to an original factory or location may not be an option for all brands, marketers should highlight how their brands stay true to their early days. Just as we feel a warm nostalgia looking back at old family photos, we also feel an attachment to the brands of yesteryear.

3. Harness social platforms.

Big brands can gain authenticity by integrating social platforms — like Salesforce’s Radian6 — with customer relationship management databases. Doing this targets current, happy customers. By showcasing “real” people, brands can make social media followers feel that those brands represent them. Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches — part of its Campaign for Real Beauty — yielded more than 114 million views in a month’s time and, further, 4 billion PR and media impressions (and counting).

4. Show your age.

Consumers want fresh, updated brand images, but that doesn’t mean they want their brands to be newcomers to the market. Pabst Blue Ribbon beer has made quite the comeback among younger generations. Every beer’s logo emphasizes that PBR was established in 1844 — just 68 years after our nation’s birth. Emphasize that your brand has withstood the test of time, and consumers are more likely to see it as the “real deal.”

Ironically, it seems the key to selling products is, well, not trying too hard to sell them. Authenticity isn’t easy, but it’s the surest way to skyrocket your brand’s image — and its sales.

 

 

Measuring the Success of Influencer Marketing

Measuring the Success of Influencer Marketing

When it comes to Influencer Marketing, it seems like analytics are often a forgotten piece of the process. While much attention is given to identifying influencers, researching them and the paid conversion that happens in order to bring them on as an influencer, the analytics of the arrangement is often an afterthought.

Effort requirements are almost always part of the contract with an influencer. For instance, if Holiday Inn commissions an influencer to run an Instagram Loyalty Program campaign for them, that influencer might be asked to produce X number of Instagram photos per week on their personal account.

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Those ‘effort’ metrics are all well and good and certainly help a program, but to truly measure the impact of an arrangement with an influencer, the brand must go deeper into the numbers to find the value. What is happening after posts are published?

How deeply a brand goes into that value calculation depends on a number of factors, including budget, available human resources and tool allocation, to name a few. There’s no absolute right way for measuring the success and effectiveness of an Influencer Marketing campaign (in fact, this often varies based on the campaign goals), but there are a few best practice recommendations we always give to our clients.

Three baseline metrics to pay attention to are Impressions, Reach and People Engaged. These are all KPIs supporting increased awareness and/or engagement for your brand, and they can all be directly tied to the work your influencers are doing on your behalf. Determine benchmark measurements for each of them, so that as your Influencer Marketing campaign increases, you can compare the data to your benchmarks. They should all show healthy growth. If you’re using a platform or tool to manage your Influencer Marketing campaigns, it should measure these for you. If you’re going the organic route, you can measure them manually, but it takes a good amount of time to do so.

After you’ve completed a few Influencer Marketing campaigns and have measured the progress you’ve seen from them, you have enough information so you can set goal KPIs for your influencers in the areas of Impressions, Reach and People Engaged.

Some brands may want to go deeper to measure the impact of their Influencer Marketing activities. For those, here are a few additional recommendations for metrics to measure:

Brand Sentiment – measure how online discussion of your brand is changing from negative to neutral to positive

Brand or Product Mentions – gauge how frequently your influencers are getting their followers to mention your brand or product

Clicks to Website or Online Purchases – if you’re trying to drive people to your site or to make a purchase, you can give each of your influencers trackable, tagged URLs to share with their followers. This allows you to measure the direct impact of each influencer’s activities.

Resource Allocation – because of successful influencer marketing campaigns, was your company able to allocate more budget or resources toward another goal, which boosted profits, awareness or engagement by X%? This is an advanced metric, but one that can help with showing real, business results and can even be used to obtain additional budget.

The exact metrics you use will vary by program, but the important thing is that you’re doing some kind of measurement to gauge the progress, success and effectiveness of your influencer marketing program. Since you’re paying these influencers, you want to see that they’re driving real results for you.

Loyalty Programs Require Part Emotion, Part Data Science

Loyalty Programs Require Part Emotion, Part Data Science

Put yourself in a modern day traveler’s shoes – does it seem like a constant race to gain loyalty points? Have you enrolled in multiple programs but only stay devoted to a select few? Does every interaction with a hotel seem more like a transaction than a connection?

As our choices have expanded, so have our expectations; both have indubitably influenced our behaviors as consumers in some way. The ubiquitous nature of social media means expecting swift responses about our questions and needs. Disruptive business models such as Airbnb’s and design-based hostels’ afford travelers the variety, flexibility and unique experiences they now seek. Some would argue that the millennial generation’s expectations have ushered in a new path to loyalty that requires part emotion, part data science.

It’s a loyalty arms race.

In order to stay ahead, hotels must exceed basic expectations by recognizing and rewarding members for doing things they already love to do. But where to begin?

Look to your data. You’ve stored it with details from past interactions, and you can fine-tune it with further research. As your marketing team determines the types of behaviors that constitute loyalty, don’t forget the technology layer.

Using Mattr, hotels can reconcile loyalty program databases to find active members and offer them thoughtful rewards and benefits. Not only can the Mattr app pinpoint social updates that warrant a “surprise and delight,” but it can also arrange the data to prioritize communication to members with a high reach and highly relevant content. Teams with limited resources can benefit from this practical app feature.

Delight your clients.

Surprise and delight campaigns can also kickstart inactive participation and, hopefully, influence positive behavior in the future. Reactions to such campaigns can be used to improve services, evaluate new ideas, and generate renewed interest in the hotel brand.

Hotels have a unique opportunity with loyalty programs to create an emotional bond with their consumers rather than a transactional relationship. Odd as it sounds, using technology to help manage your loyalty program can help you get back to doing what those programs were originally designed to do – creating true, authentic loyalty.

Loyalty Programs Require Part Emotion, Part Data Science