Ever wonder how Vice Media became such a digital marketing powerhouse? Vice creator, Shane Smith, had this to confess: “Young people have been marketed to since they were babies, they develop this incredibly sophisticated bull**** detector, and the only way to circumvent the bull**** detector is to not bull****.”
Cynical Target Markets
He’s attributing their success to a unique editorial approach that resonates well with their target audience: Gen Xers and millennials. Hardened by economic hardships and distrustful of institutional organizations, both generations are cynical and hungry for authenticity. Such insight into disenfranchised generations’ values has helped cement Vice’s status and powerhouse ranking among legacy media companies.
But I’d also venture to say that advancements in technology catalyzed real change in how news organizations and brands have addressed their audience over the years. Vice blossomed at a time when video production costs have gone down and quality has gone up; and when viewer engagement is easier to quantify too.
This was hardly the case three decades ago when direct marketing was first introduced in the 1970’s. It was mainly used to send mail-in campaigns, promotions and coupons to the Baby Boomers. But marketers eventually realized it generated poor leads. This generation valued trust and loyalty, which gave rise to telemarketing as a replacement to direct mail where two or more calls were involved to determine a consumer’s needs and motivate them to purchase. As demographics became more diverse, so were the challenges of marketers to reach their audiences. And as they saw success rates flourish, they also became greedy for more. So robocalls and auto-dialers were introduced to expedite processes and to scale efforts quickly.
Marketers Turn Consumers Away
Isn’t that the kicker? When technology advances the way we communicate, marketers manage to turn consumers away. Consumers always find a way to switch us off. Even during the golden age of email communication with Generation X, spambots and scams eventually ruined a perfectly good way to make a genuine connection with this generation.
Now, millennials are hyper-linked by social media where they “construct personalized networks of friends, colleagues and affinity groups.” Their immediate access to information has enabled bilious cynicism. Their distrust in political and religious institutions have contributed to low levels of social trust. Yet they embrace all things digital and demand transparency. As brands increased their publishing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks, millennials saw through it, leading them to be more likely to trust the opinions of complete strangers, or influencers. When technology automated relationship-building with influencers, they felt commoditized, thus turning down brand offers for potential social media partnerships.
As we’ve seen in the past, one marketing activity has been replaced by another, largely driven by consumers and their ability to switch their attention off if they feel a brand “doesn’t get them”.
Baby Boomers moved from direct mail to telemarketing.
Generation X moved from telemarketing to email marketing.
Now millennials have moved from social media to influencer marketing.
Technology, Digital Marketing and Gen Z
The next two generations of consumers, namely Generation Z, who will grow up with full access to internet and technology, will be interesting to watch from a digital marketing perspective. Past precedence has shown that the marketing methods that work today won’t resonate with those in the prime buying generation — millennials.
Will influencer marketing stand the test of time with this generation? Will they soon opt-out of Snapchat Stories? Or perhaps they will demand complete transparency in their influencer marketing, leading to a decrease in paid influencer marketing and a rise in open and honest influencer marketing. Maybe it will become known as advocate marketing or loyalty marketing. Only time will tell.
Will your brand be able to quickly adapt its marketing to keep up with these generational shifts?
Other posts you may be interested in:
Influencer Marketing Secret to Steal: Get Psychographics
Loyalty Programs Require Part Emotion, Part Data Science
How to Add Authenticity to Your Marketing Strategy
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.
(Originally posted in LonelyBrand)
In 2013, analysts projected consumers would spend $72.5 billion on back-to-school gear. But before the number of chino sales gets you too excited, there’s another important trend you need to take into account: Consumers are spending less and shopping smarter.
In that same year, consumers planned to spend 8 percent less on school supplies, and 32 percent of parents said they would comparison shop online before making purchase decisions.
So companies looking to get a piece of this year’s back-to-school pie have to deploy every resource they have.
Fortunately, marketing teams have access to unprecedented amounts of data that can inform their back-to-school marketing campaigns. It’s simply a matter of using that data creatively.
Use Social Media to Boost Back-to-School Marketing
One of the biggest challenges for marketers during the back-to-school season is connecting with youth through authentic, meaningful interactions. That’s where mobile and social marketing have become integral to narrowly focused campaigns.
Engaging with brands that use hashtags and other social conversation tactics is a form of expression for teens. And when they latch on to a brand as a form of individualism, high levels of engagement can follow.
Here are four ways you can use social media data to fuel your back-to-school marketing campaigns:
1. Use Online and Offline Location-Based Marketing Tactics
The most effective social media marketing managers understand the digital and physical locations of their target market.
While the digital platform with the highest concentration of your audience will give you amazing detail about demographics, usage, and shopping habits, the majority of customers will enter a physical location to complete their purchase.
To provide a seamless online-to-offline experience, utilize data about your audience’s behaviors to advise campaign-related decisions. Employ geotargeting data to identify shopping and movement habits, and develop location-based coupons to entice customers to enter your brick-and-mortar store.
2. Channel Analytics to Determine the ‘What’ and ‘Where’
Once you’re monitoring the right audience, you need to make sure you’re using the right words in the right places. Identify trending hashtags and topics on all social sites, then plan your content from there.
Take H&M. There’s an overlap between the audience that interacts with it on Twitter and the hashtags used. H&M’s audience is drawn to giveaways and contests. By incorporating these in its back-to-school campaigns, H&M can further engage with consumers.
Use this insight to determine where your target market spends the majority of its time and shares the most content, and move your campaign to that platform.
It might mean you need to move your promotions from Facebook to Instagram. Wherever the majority of outbound links are headed, you should follow.
3. Excite Audiences With Visuals
While text-based social sites are still popular, visuals are a critical part of solid content strategies. Images and videos get more click-throughs and shares from younger audiences, which almost automatically expands your reach. Share experiences, humor, culture, or news — anything that helps your brand naturally fit into real conversations.
4. Shift the Focus Away From You
Teens are influential in the buying process, and because they’re accustomed to products, services, and media that cater to them, they’ve lost the ability to care about you, your products, or your services. To get youths’ attention, keep them at the center of your efforts.
Simple tweaks can make a big difference in shifting the focus of your promotions to the audience. Offer contests positioning them as the stars of an ad or YouTube video. Ask for input regarding something influential in their lives. Attach your brand to a celebrity or event that’s meaningful to them. Use what you know to provide relevant and interesting promotions, and you’ll take their attention — and their dollars — away from other brands.
Too often, marketers run back-to-school campaigns that don’t speak to the right audience, or they try to engage with them in the wrong places. But with all the data available from social media analytics, you have no excuse. Offer something valuable, and keep it simple. If people see a clear benefit, they’ll share it. If it’s a simple message, it’ll be more engaging. Use real-time, honest insights to craft the perfect message every time.
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.
(Originally posted in DailySEOBlog)
If there’s one secret to effective marketing, it’s that customers are drawn to powerful stories.
It makes sense. Compared to traditional sales tactics, storytelling is downright seductive. Where “selling” pushes the product on the consumer, storytelling pulls the consumer in with culture and a sense of belonging. Instead of spouting facts and features, storytelling provokes a positive emotional connection. And finally, where traditional selling pressures the customer to act, storytelling builds a need within the customer that the brand can fulfill.
As marketers find new ways to make these connections with buyers, creativity and storytelling become increasingly important. But it’s not enough for a brand to simply develop a personality; it has to translate into a story that truly resonates with customers.
If your brand wants to crack open the long-term benefits of building a fan base with storytelling, here are four steps you need to follow:
1. Research What Personally Influences Your Market
Your brand story is based on the unique personality of your brand and all the facets that have shaped it: its history, influences, and values, as well as the people behind it.
But even with an established brand story, the way you tell your target market this story depends on who those people are. To ensure the right message reaches the right people, you need to determine what personally influences your audience’s emotions.
First, you have to identify and target the right audience with segmentation. Pay attention to things like gender and demographics, as well as deeper segmentation, such as personality traits and your audience’s interests.
To see this strategy in action, just look at Red Bull. This brand has done a great job of telling a brand story that resonates with a certain segment of young males, including content focused on adventure sports, car racing, video games, and music.
Red Bull breaks out of its comfort zone with its content — just like its target customers strive to break out of their own comfort zones — and Red Bull’s branding and content reflects this message.
Jeep is another brand that successfully communicates its story with rugged, “part of the club” brand storytelling. This aligns with the values of freedom and adventure that are extremely relatable to its audience. Jeep has continued to connect to its audience throughout its long history of weathering the market, even as it introduces more luxury features to the brand with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
2. Utilize Strategic SEO
Once you have a clear view of your brand story, you need to tell it strategically through digital marketing with content and SEO.
Content marketing creates a deeper connection with your audience by relating to them one-on-one or solving a persistent problem they face. This gets them so invested in your story that they can’t wait to share it with their own networks.
You need to reinforce this story with a backbone of strategic SEO, using keywords that relate to your product features and your brand story. Choose words that work as specific product descriptions and emphasize how your consumers want to feel.
For Jeep, imagine a customer searching “adventurous car to take on awesome road trips,” or “4-wheel drive, soft top, black.”
Keywords that speak to your company values and what your product can deliver will make SEO work for your search results and brand story.
3. Tell Your Story on the Right Platform
You may tell the right story to the right audience, but if it’s communicated on the wrong platform, your efforts are wasted. Tell your story on a platform that will resonate with your unique target audience.
Traditional platforms: While many trends are moving toward digital and live events, traditional marketing methods such as print and TV ads, billboards, letters, and direct mail remain important.
For example, Jeep still sends welcome letters to new Jeep owners with Jeep-branded leather keychains. It’s a traditional, simple touch that’s highly effective and continues to fuel its brand story of inclusiveness.
The brand also does an amazing job of telling emotional, inspirational brand stories, as evidenced by its latest Jeep Grand Cherokee campaign. This is a particularly powerful approach for high-volume viewing events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
Digital advertising: Because it offers the largest number of platform options, digital advertising is a no-brainer. However, the sheer amount of engagement tends to create a lot of noise, making it more difficult to stand out.
Mix in your brand story throughout the digital landscape, starting with your company website and the social sites best suited for your brand story. Decide which platforms to focus on by researching each platform based on its merits and targeting the ones on which your customers are spending the most time.
Live events and promotions: Depending on the characteristics of your target customer and the brand story you’re telling, your brand might benefit from live events and promotions. Red Bull does this perfectly with campaigns that exemplify bravery and action, such as its Red Bull Stratos campaign. Ask yourself how your brand could create and promote similar events on a smaller scale to share your brand story.
4. Listen to the Playback
In the digital age, it’s easier than ever for consumers to contribute to a brand’s story. With so much conversation, it’s important for a brand to listen to its consumers’ version of the story and react accordingly. This is especially relevant on social media, where consumers are offering their own content and opinions about brands.
The most powerful part of storytelling happens after you’ve crafted your message, identified your audience, and released your story, so monitor conversations and respond to keep your story relevant.
Every brand has a powerful story behind it. It’s just a matter of untangling that story for the right audience and releasing it on the right platforms. When you take the time to appreciate storytelling and its impact on your customers, you open the floor for your brand fans to latch on to your story and start sharing it themselves.