Provide Your Customers More Value Through Lifestyle Content

(Originally posted in Entrepreneur.com)

Disney knows what its customers love and that’s just what it gives them. The entertainment media giant understands that a well-proportioned content strategy is crucial to effective marketing.

The media company satisfies its audience by posting behind-the-scenes movie footage and crafting engaging blog content that hooks readers. This works because Disney knows how to balance two important kinds of content: traditional and lifestyle content.

A call to action typically asks consumers to visit a store or fill out a contact form. But lifestyle content engages customers with information that adds value without a direct link to buy.

You’d be thrilled to read an email from your best friend, right? Treat customers like friends by developing relationships built on shared values and interests, rather than always asking them to do something for you.

With the right traditional-to-lifestyle content ratio in place, you can expand your company’s reach, increase click-through rates on call-to-action posts and improve your organization’s overall brand’s success.

The Future of Marketing is Here – Custom Content

Did you know that 78 percent of chief marketing officers surveyed a few years back considered custom content the future of marketing? With the lifestyle method of content marketing gaining momentum, you need to incorporate it into your promotion strategy.

For example, Puma has shifted its content focus from functionality of soccer shoes to lifestyle qualities such as self-expression and leisure. Puma lets its audience experience the branded lifestyle.

My company was intrigued by the move toward lifestyle marketing and wanted to identify the proportion of traditional content to lifestyle content. So my organization aggregated a year’s worth of Facebook posts from Adidas and Nike to compare how each used lifestyle content last year.

The findings? Nike used more lifestyle content than Adidas. Sixty percent of Nike’s posts featured lifestyle content and its traditional call-to-action posts received an average of 993 shares a post. In contrast, only 32 percent of Adidas’ posts featured lifestyle content, with its traditional posts receiving an average of 122 shares each.

Nike used more lifestyle content than Adidas

If you want lifestyle marketing to work for your company, know how your company’s brand aligns with consumers’ values and become an extension of those values. You’ll use fewer calls to action, but the ones you post will connect more effectively with your customers.

Three Tips to Connect With Your Customers:

1. Conduct a professional or DIY branding session.

Figure out the following: What makes your brand special? Answering that question will help you build a content strategy that your customers can relate to.

Conduct a branding session to identify the unique appeal that sets your company apart. Your budget will determine whether you commission a branding project from an agency or dig into the data with your own team.

2. Target customers with a few limited, personality-based topics.

When dating, you work hard to find out and cater to your partner’s likes. Do the same for your customers.

Create a branding persona that captures every detail about your target audience, including a wide range of their interests, such as music preferences and hobbies. Use this data to build a style guide and content strategy that encourages engagement and makes customers fall in love with your company.

3. Channel the campaign through an influential network.

Your company’s brand doesn’t have to be fronted by a celebrity to make a big impact. Networking is a powerful factor in lifestyle branding, so put your energy into building a network of influencers. Just like a circle of friends who share information with one another, these influencers will talk about your brand and share your content within the context of an authentic lifestyle.

According to advertising legend Keith Reinhard, one of the big obstacles to effective marketing is “the obsession with quick results.” If you’re not careful, your focus on numbers will overshadow effective lifestyle marketing. Instead, understand your audience and use that knowledge to strike the perfect balance.

New at Mattr: Track Brand Metrics and Audience Persona Over Time

Is Your Brand Really Getting Greener?

Monitoring the effects of a campaign on your brand has never been very easy, particularly if it’s a specialized campaign, like trying to increase your brand’s reputation for environmental friendliness.

To address this need, we’ve added two exciting features to the Overview section of an influencer report. The ‘Time Machine’ allows you to go back to the baseline of when a report was created or any range of days in-between.

Monitoring the effects of a campaign on your brand has never been very easy, particularly if it's a specialized campaign, like trying to increase your brand's reputation for environmental friendliness.

Now you can see the percent of environmentally-friendly people responding to your messaging as a simple ‘Before/After’ metric, or monitor the changes in real-time as you launch new content. Use Time Machine to track the report metrics most important to your campaign, everything from influencer interests to audience personas.

Further, we all want to see social metrics tied to our campaigns. Are specific brand handles gaining or losing followers? Are our engagement numbers increasing or decreasing? Each of these metrics is now available to you in near real-time, as well as time ranges from creation to current.

Want to see for yourself? Check it out now; it’s live on your reports! Select any of your current reports, including your Favorites, and go to the Overview screen. See the video links below for a more in depth description on how the new features work.

Time Machine
Brand Tracker

We hope you find great value in these two features and continue to send excellent feature requests and feedback our way!

What’s Next for Social Media in 2015?

What's Next for Social Media in 2015, Predictions from Mattr

2014 has come and gone, and while the holidays provided a nice time for reflecting on all that happened during the past year, they also gave us the opportunity to look ahead to 2015. Another year of hopes and possibilities. Another year of advancements in digital and social media. What will the new year bring? What’s the next Selfie or the next Ello? How will Facebook change its platform next – and how many times in the next 12 months?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been thinking about potential trends and advancements our industry will see in 2015 based on things we’ve already seen and what we’re hearing from customers.

Here’s what we think will happen in 2015:

Traditional researchers will begin to incorporate social media data into their current research methods.

We’re already seeing this to a degree, but we think we’ll see the practice increase significantly in 2015. There are vast amounts of information readily accessible to researchers online and as it continues to grow at a rapid pace, more and more will realize the power of using it. But we’re not only talking about secondary research. Brands and Marketing organizations need to connect with customers in a seamless, ongoing, meaningful and personal way. Using social media for conducting primary research can be an efficient and less costly way to handle gathering primary data compared to traditional formats like focus groups. Some social media analytics companies are already strengthening relationships with researchers, doing things like giving them guidance on how they can use social media data.

Marketers will expand the uses of influencer marketing beyond pushing promotions and begin using it for things like product development. 

For some reason, when marketers think “influencer marketing” there seems to be a tendency to think about it in a very push manner, focusing only on sales – how can we use these influencers to help us sell products? In 2015, marketers will realize how shortsighted that type of thinking is and how valuable influencers are for a variety of other functions. They can provide worthwhile information and opinions that can help companies develop new products, new markets, refine distribution or customer service and improve creative.

The continued growth of mobile will make it more important than ever for marketers to know their customers at an intimate level – and far beyond simply their interactions with their brand’s products.

Technology analyst firm IDC predicts that sales of smartphones will reach $484 billion in 2015 and account for 40% of all IT spending growth. While not the rapid growth we’ve seen in some past years, those numbers still indicate a strong, growing mobile industry. In the past few years, companies focused on omni-channel marketing have popped up all over to help sellers unify their efforts between the digital and physical sales spaces – but the continued rise in mobile displays a need for marketers to go further in their customer research than simply knowing the platform customers are using for purchases. Customers can be reached everywhere now, and targeting them with the right message at the right time is more important than ever. Marketers will need to see more qualitative research on their customers showing information such as what they read, their values and who influences them.

Next year we’ll see marketers proactively incorporating data into their campaigns.

You might be saying, don’t marketers always incorporate data, since you know, big data has been all the rage in 2013 and 2014? True, big data has been popular, but marketers haven’t been using data as much as they could. While the past few years have seen an influx of data readily available at our fingertips, these large amounts of data have led to analysis paralysis. There’s a lot of measurement being done, but it’s not always used in the best way possible – sometimes it’s not used at all. A comprehensive data strategy with streamlined data analysis will make it more likely that in 2015, marketers will actively use data, not just collect it.

2015 will see some evolutionary changes in marketing, due primarily to advancements in big data solutions and the strength of the CMO in the executive suite. Will you adopt more social data into your research? Start to use influencer marketing for product development? Stay in touch with what we’re seeing by subscribing to our blog.

Everyone’s an Influencer: How Brand Loyalty Affects Holiday Shopping

Cultivate the same kind of loyalty as Apple this holiday.

 

(Originally posted in Business2Community)

We all know the stereotype of the Apple fanboy (or girl). It almost doesn’t matter what problems arise with Apple products — or if the competition’s technology is better — Apple fans remain loyal. And, more importantly, they remain rabid defenders and promoters for their favorite brand.

Your company may not be the next Apple, but that’s not to say you can’t cultivate the same kind of loyalty. In fact, it’s crucial that you do, especially during the holidays.

This holiday season, an estimated 66 percent of consumers will shop at their favorite retailers as opposed to branching out to try new stores. Forty-four percent will purchase gifts from brands they’re loyal to, and 42 percent will go even further and use loyalty points to make purchases. With those kinds of numbers, it’s obvious why building brand loyalty is important.

Luckily, it’s not too late — even this far into the holiday season.

How to Build Brand Loyalty Right Now

It may be halfway through December, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on building brand loyalty this season. While tons of people shop at their favorite stores during the holidays, plenty are looking for unique gifts they may not consider buying at other times throughout the year. This is the perfect time to motivate your current customers to start promoting your brand to their friends and family.

Loyal customers can be your holiday brand advocates. In fact, they’re the people who might be the most successful at encouraging others to spend their holiday budgets on your products. So it only makes sense to target these people by adding some influencer marketing strategies to your holiday marketing campaign. By starting the relationships now, you’re encouraging these customers to stay loyal throughout the new year.

Here’s how you can maximize your influencers this holiday season:

1. Know your influencers. Just like you need to know your target customer, you must know your target influencers. Look at the people who are already talking about you on social media or blogs. Who are they? What else do they like, and what influences them? Then, determine what kind of influencers you hope to recruit for your campaign.

Figure out their personalities so you can better understand what would motivate them to advocate for you. One way to achieve this is to monitor their sentiments and personality through persona segmentation, which breaks down influencer characteristics, similar to the sample analysis below. For example, one influencer might value green living, while another is daring and nonconformist. You can then segment your influencer messages based on those unique characteristics.

Monitor your brand influencers' sentiments and personality through persona segmentation.

2. Develop a theme. The holidays are a great time to create fun and exciting themes to help spread your promotions. For example, a common holiday-themed hashtag is #stockingstuffers. If you’re a brand that sells a product that would be a great stocking stuffer, you might consider making this your campaign theme and targeting influencers who use the hashtag regularly.

The everyday influencer below is a good example: a stay-at-home mom with a large social following who loves social media and consistently promotes #stockingstuffers. Companies that sell small, unique gadgets or holiday goodies might look for similar micro influencers to help promote their products as stocking stuffers through the holidays.

This everyday influencer below is a good example of a holiday influencer.

 

Last year, Topshop created a “personalized gift guide” theme during its “Dear Topshop” campaign. Users pinned Topshop products on Pinterest as a way to help others find the perfect holiday gift or party outfit while earning a chance to win a great prize. The retailer’s products ended up all over Pinterest, garnering more followers and regular customers.

3. Think outside your vertical. Anyone can be an influencer. With that in mind, why not reach outside your core vertical and target people you may not normally consider?

For example, if you’re in the food industry, you might target influencers in wine, cooking, recipes, or restaurants. Once again, you might discover some really influential people with loyal audiences who would be more than willing to mention your brand.

4. Make it worthwhile. While some brands already have loyal followers who will buy and promote products without much incentive, this isn’t the time to assume that you fall under that category. Like Topshop did in 2013, you should make the act of promoting your brand fun and intuitive. Women were already pinning beautiful clothes to Pinterest, but Topshop made it valuable to pin their clothes over competitors’ by hosting a fun contest that rewarded the influencers.

When you reward those who promote your brand — through the use of both tangible and intangible rewards — your influencers will provide you more value in return.

5. Create a tracking system for your influencers. Data should drive every decision you make this holiday season. The more you know about your campaigns, the more accurately you can judge your ROI. So figure out who your favorite influencers are or who can offer the most value to your brand based on your objectives, then consistently nurture those relationships and measure your results.

The holidays are one of the most beneficial times to build brand loyalty — whether that’s through a unique shopping experience, good customer service, or loyalty programs. But the best way to differentiate your brand and build a loyal year-round following is through influencer marketing. Believe me, it’s never too late.

Start your Influencer campaign now using the Mattr app.

 

(Photo credit: Cult of Mac)

 

 

3 Tips To Keep Your Brand Healthy in 2015

(originally published in Entrepreneur)

Determine who influences your buyer persona.

 

“Sorry. I won’t even consider that brand.”

As I finally figured out what the robin’s egg blue tinge on my fingers came from, I recalled my buying journey earlier that day.

And it was an ambitious journey. Buying jeans isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s especially difficult when you’re shopping for cool-guy jeans with a dad-jeans body.

The brands and style choices are staggering. There’s selvage, raw, distressed, boot-cut, straight leg and skinny varieties. The brands have interesting, americana names like The Flat Head, Sugar Cane Co., and Imogene and Willie. But after a 20-minute Internet search I was bombarded with retargeting ads asking me to buy their jeans before I even knew what my choices were. I immediately discounted those brands in my brain then realized how gargantuan my mission was. I needed some kind of shortcut.

I got it. Soon I was teetering under 210 pounds of slippery, oddly metallic-smelling denim in a trendy men’s store in Austin’s South Congress district. To the astonishment of the sales person, I said I wouldn’t even try on one of their fashion brands – I’ve seen it too many times at discounters – it’s dead to me. Anyway, after a couple hours of hopping, cussing, and crashing into fitting rooms made for skinny-jeans people, I found that perfect pair.

As an entrepreneur with an emerging brand, trying to get your name and content trusted can seem like an art form. In your gut you know it’s not just money – after all, the “Will It Blend – iPhone 6 Plus” video has amassed almost 3 million views. But it’s not voodoo – it just takes knowledge, discipline, and a lot of hard work.

Here are some crucial elements (and that shortcut) that can make placing your company’s product in the hands of consumers a lot easier:

1. Distribute with discipline.

“Content is king, but distribution is queen; and she wears the pants.” There are a lot of ways to poison your brand. But incorrect or inconsistent distribution is near the top of the most wanted list. It’s why I wouldn’t even try on one of the brands during my jeans journey.

Joshua Bingaman, founder of HELM Boots, is fiercely disciplined in his company’s branding strategy. He researched all the possible personas of consumers who buy fashionable boots and came up with the one that’s most aligned with his brand’s values.

He determined that his buyers would trust his artisanal boots only if they were excluded from sales sites.

“We’ve worked hard to develop HELM Boots into a brand that is recognized in Esquire or GQ instead of sale sites like Gilt or Fab.” – Joshua Bingaman, founder of Helm Boots

This is Joshua telling the queen which pants to wear.

Look – you work hard on conceiving and creating your brand’s image, products, and marketing content. You’re rightfully proud of them. But your distribution must fit your buyer perfectly or your jeans may be the only ones left on the rack.

How about that shortcut I took to find my perfect pair of jeans?

2. Determine who influences your buyer persona.

Word-of-mouth is an old and established marketing channel. Nielsen Research found that 84% of consumers trust buying advice from friends. So HELM puts its global tribe of brand advocates to work to spread its message; these people know their reputation will be elevated each time they recommend HELM. And it was a similar web of advocates that proved critical to my buying journey.

After I gave up searching for the perfect jeans, I tossed out a Facebook post to my friends.

 

I received some good advice from a fashionable Dane whose opinions I trust. He gave me the name of the men’s shop on South Congress and a few brands to try.

Cultivate your brand advocates, those people who have bought your product and look for opportunities to recommend it. It’s hard, but rewarding work. Your other influencer channel, bloggers, can have a bigger impact that pays off enormously. Of course, I could talk to you for hours about it.

Number one on the most wanted list of most toxic brand poisons is next.

3. Mind where your consumers are in their buying journey.

Mastering timing is critical for ensuring that you’re providing the right content for a particular phase of a buyer’s journey.

Roughly speaking, buyers go through three phases: awareness (do they know your brand exists?), consideration (how does your brand compare to competitors?), and conversion from prospect to customer (Are they ready for a call to action?).

In my cool-guy jeans experience, I went through the journey in a matter of hours. I wasn’t buying a car or a house or looking to move data centers. Usually consumers need time to make up their minds before a company or its influencers bombard them with “buy now” messaging. Retargeted ads are the most ham-fisted example of a premature call to action. If this happens too soon, it’s bad fugu – poisonous to the brand.

Today, getting your product in front of the right buyers isn’t about broadcasting your message to anyone who will listen. It’s about identifying your ideal buyers, finding the influencers who resonate most with them and serving up the appropriate content at the right time, in the right place.

That way, in the chaos of the holiday-shopping season, your customers hopefully won’t be distracted by an overabundance of choices. If they hear about your company’s brand from someone they trust, making a choice will be as easy and comfortable as donning a good pair of jeans.