Influencer Marketing to Show Steady Progress in 2016

Influencer Marketing to Show Steady Progress in 2016

Driverless cars, bitcoin, Airbnb – technology, alongside innovative business models, have been changing the way we’ve done things for decades. Advertising is a market that feels destined for a major disruption. We’ve seen that millennials and Gen Z consumers won’t go for digital and, even with more creative content and new platforms, clickthrough rates have remained dismal. Think about it: what else would you buy that has a success rate of less than one out of a thousand? That’s a failure rate, not a success rate! Marketers know we need to evolve the model of getting a brand’s message to the consumer and there will be some steady progress for Influencer Marketing in 2016, but we’ll be running through deep sand for a while.

there will be some steady progress for Influencer Marketing in 2016, but we’ll be running through deep sand for a while.

Millennials and Gen Z will continue to frustrate marketers

Past precedence has shown that the marketing methods that work today won’t resonate with those in the prime buying generation. For example, Baby Boomers moved from direct mail to telemarketing. Generation X moved from telemarketing to email marketing. Now millennials are moving from social media to influencer marketing. Gen Z, however, will demand complete transparency in marketing efforts, leading to a decrease in paid influencer marketing and a rise in open and honest influencer marketing, or brand advocacy.

Marketers will get budget for advocacy pilot projects

Consumers are longing for more personalized interactions with their favored brands beyond complaints. Millennials, in particular, will advocate for brands they love. To cultivate these loyalists, marketers want to rely heavily on technology to gain insight into their behaviors and desires and participate in content creation, crowdsourcing and even social activism. But think about what’s needed to convert a brand’s consumer list into social profiles, which are then sorted and segmented so that social marketers can listen and respond. The project touches at 2-3 department heads in Marketing along with 3 or more department heads in IT. Because the value is becoming clearer to enterprise executives and the CMO is getting more budget, we’ll see some budget allocated for pilot programs in 2016-17.

Influencer marketing will need transparency to scale

How did you find your last babysitter? How much did they charge? Did they even know what to charge you? Babysitting is a disorganized, inefficient market – similar to Influencer Marketing.

Influencer marketing is no recent invention and most agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective advertising. So, why is it still a sub $500 million market when the digital ad market will bill over $60 billion? The answer is scaling and transparency. We’re finally getting great, next generation software tools to identify influencers. But the business model remains archaic: brand contacts agency, agency contacts an influencer from their database or from a tool, brand pays agency, who then pays influencer. This model is pinning the market’s shoulders to the ground.  How can we start taking chunks out of that big digital ad budget? A standardized and transparent pricing model, so that you can hire tens or hundreds of influencers to be authentic and loud voices for your brand. You find influencers you’d trust with your brand, then know how and what to pay them in bulk. You get millions of impressions. But brand managers are fiercely protective of their brands, so it has to be authentic – hence the difficulty that great discovery tools can help with.

Remember that B2B changes course like a sluggish cruise liner, while B2C can maneuver like a jetski. So be patient, but persistent, and start building the foundation for a new marketing model whose wake is as mighty and large as the ocean.

By Jack Holt, Mattr CEO

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.

 

 

Are Social Data Nerds Threatening Old Media?

Are Social Data Nerds Threatening Old Media?

Tap into Twitter's research potential to identify targeted media placements for your audience.

Tap into Twitter’s research potential to identify targeted media placements for your audience. Photo courtesy of EdTechReview

(Originally posted in iMedia Connection)

Today’s fragmented media landscape means it’s becoming harder and harder for brands to reach a critical mass. Consumers are now divided across millions of different channels and hundreds of devices, which means the brands that are still trying to reach everyone with blanket media placements are in serious trouble.

But for marketers who are willing to dig in and get to know individual segments of their audience, the digital media landscape presents wonderful opportunities to make meaningful connections in less crowded environments. You probably already use Twitter as a vehicle for your brand messages, but you might not know how to tap into this social giant’s research potential to identify targeted media placements for your audience.

Use public Twitter data for an analytic edge

Twitter is a rich source of free, up-to-date public information about your target consumers. This data can uncover narrowly targeted media placements that are more effective and less expensive.

Just use these three tactics to help you sort through the data:

Segment to find No. 2
The first and most important step to using Twitter for research is to segment your data. Even if you can’t get fancy with algorithms and text analysis, segment for basic demographics like gender, age, location, and frequency of engagement.

When you’ve identified the most valuable segments, set aside your most engaged segment and look at your second most engaged segment. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but moving beyond the expected will allow you to identify media outlets that aren’t receiving as much attention from advertisers.

Ignore overrepresented media in favor of segment saturation
Dig into your analytics tool, and determine which media is overrepresented by the personas you want to reach. Popular sites such as The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and ESPN will be overwhelmed with advertisements and probably out of your price range.

Instead, compare the ratios of your followers to a media source to the rest of Twitter’s user base. Taking this extra step will help you find the media outlets with a higher saturation of your target audience (not just Twitter’s total audience), which could unearth less popular blogs with a high concentration of your followers.

For example, if you were looking at media placements for the FIFA World Cup, hopefully you didn’t get stuck on sports blogs. Your audience visits other places online, such as @FiveThirtyEight, or Nate Silver’s blog. His account doesn’t even hit the top 25 for @FIFAWorldCup in popularity, but for uniqueness, he’s at No. 8. His blog is a nice outlet advertisers could use to extend their reach.

Identify what else is popular
Next, look at the other off-topic media outlets your target audience engages with. Identify the most popular media by counting the links your target personas share on Twitter. Which URLs and media outlets do your top engagers link to when they’re not talking about you? This data can reveal media options you might not have considered.

How to ensure the right fit

Identifying possible media placements is only half the battle. When you’ve put together a list of possible media outlets, there are three questions you need to ask before moving forward.

Are you trying to extend your reach or defend your most loyal advocates?
Determine your goals for this promotion. If you’re trying to defend your loyal advocates, you’ll want to stick with media outlets that are comfortable for your audience. If you’re trying to extend your reach, the personas you use become a little more flexible, and so do your media options. Customize your promotions and content accordingly.

Are you trying to win over your competitors’ engagers?
Another value of persona-driven targeting is that you can sometimes win over competitors’ engagers. If your competitors are behind the times, you can find their market and target them as you would your own.

In this case, go for their No. 2 segment again, which might be more likely to swing over to your brand without a fight. Just look at what Apple has done to Microsoft Windows. Apple started with its core audience of heavy graphic design users but quickly moved to users who weren’t emotionally attached to Windows. Apple targeted them and increased its market share by more than 300 percent in just five years.

Can you match the tone of the targeted media?
Even after performing an analysis and finding unique and popular media for your targeted personas, you have to be able to match the tone of the publication for your efforts to be successful. If the tone of the publication doesn’t match your brand truths, it’s not a good match.

For instance, if your brand is straightforward and honest, you can’t bend it to be snarky and sarcastic for the sake of a media placement like The Onion.

When you know your audience, there’s no need to fear media fragmentation. With the right approach, you can put Twitter to work for you and identify a highly targeted media placement. You’ll stand out by appearing in a less crowded environment, and you’ll make an instant connection by associating your brand with media your target audience already loves.

How World Cup Sponsors Fared Against their Non-Sponsor Rivals

How World Cup Sponsors Fared Against their Non-Sponsor Rivals

(Originally posted in Digiday, by Curtis Silver)

One might be forgiven for assuming that the biggest game for advertisers to spend money on is the Super Bowl. But the FIFA World Cup puts that single-game contest to shame. Estimates put the ad spending this year at over $1.5 billion globally, with a good chunk of this coming via sponsorships. FIFA’s major sponsors pay upwards of $50 million a year to have their logos splashed in front of viewers.

And non-sponsors are strongly discouraged from attempting to hijack World Cup buzz for their own marketing ambush. But that doesn’t stop them from trying. Still, according to Mattr, a brand analytics firm, some of the major brands who paid to play during the World Cup are finding that they had some competition from similar brands that didn’t pay for sponsorships. When it came to pure engagement though, FIFA sponsors Adidas, Budweiser, Coke and Hyundai clearly beat out their rivals.

Tracking Via Brand-Promoted Hashtags

Nike and Adidas had the most Twitter engagement from FIFA followers during the World Cup.

Only non-official sponsor Nike was able to really sneak into FIFA’s reach, with 16 percent of its engagement coming from FIFA’s following. Adidas, a sponsor, paid to get a chunk of those FIFA followers. Nike did not but still grabbed more of them than Adidas did.

So what about the brands that weren’t looking to compete with the big boys and focused mostly on guerrilla marketing? According to Brandwatch, which was also tracking the World Cup, a few brands took a bite out of the social media marketshare.

“When it comes to non-sponsor brands, Snickers really chomped at the chance to commandeer the conversation when Luis Suarez bit Italy’s Chiellini,” a Brandwatch spokesperson said. “Since the start of the World Cup on June 12, Snickers has been mentioned on Twitter in posts that talk about Suarez or World Cup over 6,500 times.”

Additionally, brands like Waffle House — with its confusing “Ban Belgium Waffles” (shouldn’t it have been “Belgian”?) campaign leading up to the U.S. team’s game against that country in the knockout round — also garnered a few shares on social media and amusing media coverage. This campaign cost the company only man hours, a true win when it comes to social marketing.

The most interesting outsider, however, was Beats. It was banned from World Cup sidelines last month because Sony is an official sponsor. This, as could have been predicted, backfired when Beats became a more popular topic on social media than FIFA or Sony would have liked. According to Brandwatch, tracking hashtags between June 17 and June 26 (June 17th when the news about Beats being banned broke), Beats trumped Sony in overall impressions.

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But while non-sponsored focused primarily on taking advantage of real-time opportunities and trending social media topics, the truth is the winners were the sponsors. Yet, as Mattr pointed out to me, it wasn’t just about engagement, it was also about reaching and marketing to the right “persona.”

“Overall, Adidas and Nike seem to be really ahead of the others. They were the only brands to match the most engaged persona of @FIFAWorldCup, that of a rugged persona,” said one Mattr analyst. Mattr defines “rugged” in this instance as “outdoorsy, masculine, western, tough” and “turned off by sophistication, rules, emotion.”

The analyst continued: “There’s a lot other brands could learn from this for future World Cup marketing. For example, people identified as ‘daring’ were not engaging nearly as much as other personas. Somewhat surprising given the description of daring people.”

“Daring” here refers to people who are “trendy, exciting, spirited, cool, young … up to date.” It might also describe any brand that ignores the growing popularity of the the World Cup in the United States (where over 50 percent of FIFA’s engagement came from). No doubt many brands, large and small, are already preparing their campaigns for 2018.