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Measuring product lifecycle and witnessing innovation in social media

Pinpointing the position of social media in its product lifecycle in hospitality was the topic of conversation last week at the Dorchester Collection’s Coworth Park, as a group of marketers and business owners from across the hospitality industry gathered in Ascot.

The discussions centred around where different restaurateurs, product and service suppliers, hoteliers, caterers, industry associations and lobbyists see social media now within their wider marketing activity. Linked to where they see the hospitality industry’s position in terms of social media’s product lifecycle.

The crux of the discussions focused on returns on investment achieved. One delegate shared how restaurants had been filled through Instagram and the strategy and tactics deployed to achieve that goal. Others reflected on the return on investment versus time savings for communications in large teams of people.

Delegates looked at the different channels used, old and new, ranging from the established Facebook to the emerging TikTok, with strategic and tactical lessons shared.

Tone of voice, images, sources of images and image testing, video and calls to action were all reviewed as were use of emoji’s, grammar and punctuation. All had a clear impact on the different objectives and campaign measurements applied. Attention to small details had a big effect.

The objective of any such event is to ensure delegates leave with ‘take-aways’ that can be applied post event.

The observations ranged from seasoned attendees who have shared their experiences previously, enabling a familiar framework to measure by, to newcomers who shed light with a new, different and helpful approach.

One of the delegates taking part that has done previously on many occasions was Simon Esner FIH FIoD, Director, WSH LIMITED. WSH own and operate some of the best known brands in hospitality including BaxterStorey. Commenting on the morning Esner said: “The whole event was extremely well organised and the team at Coworth really made everyone feel welcome and relaxed immediately.

“The attendees were a terrific group of business professionals who all had significant involvement with the discussions, which resulted in me having several ‘take-aways’ that I know I will be able to utilise personally and professionally.

“Key words, subjects and points for me that will enhance our approach to social media utilisation are ‘Authenticity’, ‘Engagement’, ‘use of algorithms and their specific platforms’ and using Instagram as your ‘Inspiration Platform’.

“Lastly, I’m grateful for the information about image libraries. Having looked at the information I know we will be able to learn more and make better use of our approach.”

One of the newer delegates was Paul Anderson FIH, M.C.G.C Managing Director, Meiko UK Limited who told us: “I was kindly invited to attend H&C Social last week at Coworth Park, in a small yet collective discussion on social media and the part it plays in modern business.

“It’s true I am always pushing the boundaries within MEIKO on social media, and yet I always say I am never an expert. It was so useful to gain ideas and thoughts from great peers of our industry during this meeting that I came away thinking we’ve not even really started.

“The use of media is so fast, so readily available and requires constant attention to ensure it is correct, valid and fit for purpose…. more or less a full time role to support and underpin the image of a company.

“I really found this meeting extremely useful and I can’t wait until the next one.”

The mix of delegates was diverse to ensure as many views and perspectives as possible were considered and learned from.

Pat Thomas is a Founder of and Director at Beyond GM, an independent initiative set up to raise the level of the debate on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the UK and elsewhere, at both the local and national level. Its activities aim to broaden the discussion about GMOs beyond the abstract, and often impenetrable, scientific and academic arena and out into the public arena. The task of broadening discussions on GMO’s is in part achieved through social media, so Pat’s input to our discussion was enlightening.

Thomas was enthusiastic saying: “Social media has become such an important platform for sharing not just sterile pieces of information but connected stories that matter about the values that drive us. The social media roundtables are a lively and invaluable forum where individuals can share ideas, challenges and tips for success. Keep them coming.”

The discussions looked at many channels and LinkedIn was covered by Neil Fillbrook FCII, UK Managing Director of international banking firm Bank Brokers. Fillbrook reflected on the morning telling us: “The round-table discussion this morning with social-media thought leaders from the hospitality industry at the wonderful Coworth Park was fascinating. It was intriguing to learn from both a strategic and tactical standpoint.

“Our execution of Social media within our wider marketing mix will improve as a consequence of taking part. Several things quickly became clear to me and the takeaway’s are many. What on earth is TikTok?!”

TikTok in many ways underlines the incredibly fast changing and emerging technologies across social media. TikTok was launched in 2017 by Chinese business ByteDance, valued at $78 billion in November 2018 and is considered one of the most valuable unicorns in the world. One delegate is already au fait with TikTok and shared his experience and views, Rehan Uddin, Managing Director of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network.

Uddin there representing the 1,500 plus members of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network pooled knowledge and experience from members. His contribution was eloquent and enlightening, his feedback was to the point stating: “At the heart of the Asian Restaurant Owners Network we value and cherish our heritage, but our focus is on creating 21st century dining. Social media is key to everything we do and drives our businesses.

“To get a morning of enlightened discussion and knowledge sharing is not only tremendous use of my time, it allows me to disseminate the learning with our members.

“The conversation was steeped in first-hand experience and it was authentic, I leave today’s roundtable with practical guidance I can apply to my own restaurant business and that of fellow members, thank you.”

The variety of perspective from around the table provided a wide range of references with many common touchpoints, enabling references to be debated, linked and clarified. One common denominator was that all participants agreed on was that the product lifecycle of social media is in its growth stage. So, although the use of channels by delegates was as diverse as the table seating mix, the overall approach and view to the opportunity was very similar.

Commenting on the range of perspectives, Antonia Robinson, Manager, Public Relations & Social Media – EMEA at Preferred Hotels & Resorts focused on all our end customers, the consumers, saying: “It was interesting to focus the roundtable discussion on the social media product lifecycle.

“It was great to connect with professionals from so many sectors of the hospitality industry and learn more about how everyone uses social media differently within their companies to align with their brand messaging and goals.

“I greatly enjoyed hearing everyone’s varied perspectives on how the social media landscape is rapidly shifting and how consumers are crying out for more personalisation and authenticity, which in turn is shaking up how companies are handling their approach across the platforms.”

Independent hotels were represented as well as global hotel groups, Preferred Hotels & Resorts and Dorchester Collection. The independent hotel sector was represented by Robert Richardson FIH, GENERAL MANAGER of The Grand in Folkestone.

Richardson raised a number of points including trolling and how to deal with it positively, especially relevant to the many TripAdvisor advocates amongst the group. Richardson was to the point with his discussions and his feedback saying: Today was excellent in terms of the industry diversity of the group, with each delegate having their own specific social media focus, challenges and successes, which made for an insightful debate and allowed me to leave knowing more than when I arrived. Mission accomplished.”

The morning saw a group of marketers and business owners who are all innovators through what they are doing in social media gather and talk. Innovation is key driver in our fabulous hospitality industry and as such was it a coincidence that most of the attendees businesses are also market leaders in their respective sectors, we think not.

A few words from the business that sponsored the event and have done every year for the past six years, Armourcoat. “Armourcoat were delighted to participate in the recent social media roundtable from H&C News and act as sponsor for the event.

“Benchmarking good practice in marketing, which social media channels offer the best return, and how to effectively measure success are critical when reviewing budgets and considering MROI.

“The value of creating an open forum for debate is of enormous benefit.” Daniel Nevitt, Group Marketing Director, Armourcoat.

Source: https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2019/10/measuring-product-lifecycle-witnessing-innovation-social-media/

One in Four Travelers Feel Inadequately Rewarded for Their Travel Brand Loyalty

art of a new report from Yes Marketing, entitled “Understanding the Traveler’s Journey”, revealed that almost 25 percent of U.S. travelers feel that they’re not being adequately rewarded for their loyalty to travel and hospitality brands.

Among a group of 1,000 respondents, 64 percent admitted to having a “go-to” travel company that they consider first and, typically, above all else when planning a trip. The findings indicate that consumers prefer turning to travel brands they’ve used in the past, but only if they feel that their loyalty is proportionately rewarded. 83 percent of those surveyed said that travel-related rewards influence their decisions about whether to stick with a certain brand.

So, what is it that customers are looking to get back from travel and hospitality companies? Generally, they want to feel like they’re receiving special treatment: nearly half of respondents reported feeling rewarded by gaining exclusive member benefits and 32 percent cited waived fees as they perk that makes them feel appreciated.

“Whether it’s offering exclusive perks or providing personalized recommendations, travel brands need to leverage the right incentives to encourage customers to choose their brand time and again,” said Michael Iaccarino, CEO and chairman of Infogroup, parent company of Yes Marketing. “Through the right combination of technology and services, brands can glean a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences to inform their retention and loyalty strategies and develop lifelong connections.”

As Yes Marketing’s work involves tracking the consumer journey with travel and hospitality brands—from first awareness and consideration through purchase and lifetime loyalty—its research extended to many different aspects of the customer experience. When it comes to client retention, it’s surprising just how many travelers are keen to receive more communications from their preferred brands.

52 percent said that they’d like to be sent more information about their reservations and previous travel; and 44 percent said they’d welcome offers based on their past behavior, while 29 percent would prefer more messaging based on their demographic profiles. 40 percent responded that they want to see more consumer reviews and testimonials, which obviously play a huge part in informing customers’ decisions these days. Another 43 percent expressed a desire to receive more partner offers from the travel and hospitality companies that they patronize.

Source: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/features/one-in-four-travelers-feel-inadequately-rewarded-for-their-travel-brand-loyalty.html

Mindshare and Unilever initiative aims to cut carbon footprint in marketing

#ChangeTheBrief plans to ‘take power back into the agencies’.

In an attempt to soften the marketing world’s carbon footprint, Mindshare has unveiled its latest initiative, #ChangeTheBrief, undertaking a global brief from its largest client, Unilever.

The initiative offers clients sustainable alternatives to traditional marketing strategies in order to encourage the transition to carbon-neutral behaviours within the marketing world.

Speaking to Campaign, Marco Rimini, chief development officer at Mindshare, said: “The advertising industry creates popular culture and so the most powerful thing that we can do is to try promoting lifestyles, attitudes and behaviours that are consistent with transition to zero-carbon world.” 

“We always feel duty-bound to respond to the brief our client has sent us. Therefore, the simple idea behinid this initiative is to take power back into the agencies. We can always decide to change the brief and respond in different, more imaginative ways consistent with the world we want to see.

“This is a way of institutionalising behaviour.”

With two alternative strategies in place – the “now” brief and the “future” brief – agencies can take a conventional approach to climate change in response to briefs from clients short term and showcase eco-savvy lifestyles and behaviours in the long term.

For example, through the “future” brief, a food brand could develop packaging that encourages people to freeze unused food to avoid food waste, while a shampoo client could promote considerate water usage by creating a “songs to sing in the shower” playlist on Spotify lasting only four minutes.

Nick Emery, global chief executive of Mindshare, said: “Our great challenge as a society and as an industry is to show how living sustainably is possible, enjoyable, fulfilling and aspirational, and that it can also drive our clients’ business. These are all the things that we know how to do.

“We hope that #ChangeTheBrief will become the start of a new way of planning media and advertising for a more sustainable future,” he continued.

Last month, more than 80 creative and media agencies took to the streets of London to join the Global Climate Strike, including Goodstuff Communications, Iris, Lucky Generals, Ogilvy and Wieden & Kennedy.  

Days later in New York, McCann chief executive Harris Diamond used his platform at Advertising Week to hail brands for taking a positive stand with regard to climate change.

Carrie Timms, vice-president of global media at Unilever, said: “At Unilever, we believe brands should be a force for good for the world we live in.

“Mindshare’s #ChangeTheBrief initiative is a powerful statement to the industry that we should all do what we can through media, both expertise and investment, to deliver a more sustainable future.”

Unilever has been involved in a series of environmentally friendly campaigns in recent months, including fabric conditioner Comfort’s pop-up clothes “swap shop” and Hellmann’s food truck that served up a menu using commonly wasted foods.

Mindshare is seeking partners to join a #ChangeTheBrief alliance in order to generate an industry-wide movement to help be part of the solution to the climate crisis.

The initiative is set to launch during Mindshare’s annual Mindshare Day on 1 November.

Source: https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/mindshare-unilever-initiative-aims-cut-carbon-footprint-marketing/1661860

How marketers can improve their impact and influence

With confidence in marketing hitting a low point, how can the industry change negative perceptions and reclaim customer trust?

From data hacks and the Cambridge Analytica scandal to ad bombardment, influencer fraud and brand safety issues, the crisis of confidence in marketing remains a persistent concern.

Public perceptions of advertising, for example – granted it is just one aspect of marketing – have been in decline for decades; from a 50% favourable perception in the early 1990s to just 25% in 2018, according to statistics from the Advertising Association (AA).

Marketers’ influence and reputation internally is also suffering. The fact brands including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Uber are getting rid of the CMO role, instead splitting the top marketer’s responsibilities across less senior, non-C-suite executives, should ring alarm bells.

It suggests Fournaise’s often-cited research that 80% of CEOs do not trust their marketers remains a cause for concern.

The rise of alternative titles such as chief customer officer and chief growth officer have also diluted the relevance of the CMO.

As Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson puts it: “With the CMO position, we had a rare opportunity to make marketing into an established, strategic and senior function within most companies. No surprise then that a bunch of idiot marketing commentators spent the past few years critiquing the role and suggesting it needed to be retitled for the new challenges of the 21st Century.”

With trust undoubtedly in decline, marketing is at risk of losing its positive influence. It is not too late to turn the situation around, but marketers need to work hard to reclaim consumer trust, forge stronger bonds with the C-suite and enhance the impact of their work. That is the advice of the judges of Marketing Week’s Top 100 Most Effective UK Marketers, sponsored by Salesforce.

Source: https://www.marketingweek.com/marketers-impact-influence/

Why B2B brands need to invest in brand marketing

Creativity and storytelling were previously seen as a luxury afforded to B2C brands but B2B marketers are waking up to the effectiveness opportunity investment can bring.

Businesspeople do not park their emotions and personality in a cardboard box when they come to work and buy products and services.

In fact, the way people interact with B2B brands is incredibly similar to how they engage with B2C brands. This means creativity, storytelling and long-term brand building are just as important as a product’s features and price.

The cardboard box reference comes from marketing consultant Peter Field who, along with Les Binet, head of effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, was commissioned by LinkedIn to assess the importance of brand building in the B2B sector. Binet and Field are well known for their work in the B2C space and their 2013 book ‘The Long and The Short of It’.

“There are huge similarities between B2B and B2C when it comes to brand but many B2B marketers need to revise their approach,” says Field. “Brand advertising really does work in B2B to drive buyer choices and revenues.

“Brands need a creative storytelling element because it is not enough to rely solely on rational product messaging. There has to be clear differentiation and a narrative that taps into business buyers’ emotions. Humanity must not be lost in a tech-obsessed world.”

The Binet and Field research was unveiled recently in New York and reveals that brand building in B2B should, on average, account for 46% of marketing spend and lead generation 54%. Many B2B brands spend considerably less than this proportion on brand building but the research concludes that investment should rise as a business matures and grows.

This follows research from Marketing Week and The Marketing Practice that showed that B2B brands that identified as outperforming their competition over the last two years were twice as likely to allocate 60% or more of their budget to achieving long-term marketing goals.

The hybrid advantage

The research also cites case studies from the IPA’s awards databank including BT and VW Commercial Vehicles. BT demonstrates a clear story around helping business customers in an emotional way by bringing people together, while VW Commercial Vehicles talks about being there for small business owners who can find running their business a lonely experience.

“Quite a few businesses have B2B and B2C divisions,” says Field. “These ‘hybrid’ companies seem to have applied their B2C learning to B2B with good effect.”

Another company to tick the hybrid box is insurer Direct Line. Head of transformation Claire Sadler says the Binet and Field research confirms what she has always felt, that reach and tapping into emotion through creativity and storytelling are as important to B2B brands as they have always been in the B2C arena.

“B2B advertising is often rational rather than emotional but in insurance the risk to a business owner can be greater than to someone personally,” says Sadler. “We are all human beings and we do not become a different person when we go to work.”

Technology has made buying business services easier but it has also meant that in many cases human interaction has been lost. “The salesman use to be the face of the insurance brand. Today, insurers have to tell their brand story through other touchpoints, including their website and B2B advertising,” she adds.

Short-term pressures

For purely B2B companies, long-term brand thinking can be a challenge because of the pressure to deliver short-term sales. But Field believes there is no better tool for driving growth than brand building, and marketers’ acquisition strategy must target a broad audience to generate long-term support. He says too much B2B marketing is narrow and focusing on targeting existing customers.

The findings of the research have gone down well with B2B marketers, who accept that storytelling and brand building are essential if a business is to grow and remain competitive.

The chair of The DMA’s B2B Council, Richard Robinson, is also chief commercial officer at data technology startup DPL. He says building long-term brand awareness is more integral to B2B companies than most marketers realise because growing sales depends on successfully building relationships and customer loyalty.

He believes B2B customers are often more emotionally engaged than B2C shoppers because the purchasing costs can be higher and there can be a serious financial impact if the wrong buying decision is taken.

“B2B companies will reach more customers and encourage them to keep coming back if they build brand awareness as well as trust,” he says. “B2B brands are beginning to spend a larger proportion of their marketing budgets and resources on building relationships. You can barely enter a B2B marketing event today that doesn’t cover account-based marketing and/or storytelling.”

Robinson says a long-term approach is important because the B2B buying process is counted in months or even years. “How many B2C marketers have to engage with a dozen or more decision makers, all with different needs and requirements, across multiple months, using different channels to consume information just to sell one product?” he questions.

One area that does need to change is that B2B marketers need to become more confident about sharing their stories and differentiating themselves.

Tim Matthews is CMO at cyber security vendor Exabeam and author of the book The Professional Marketer. He has built many B2B marketing teams over the years, including leading nine worldwide product launches at security products brand Symantec.

“People buy from people so it is crucial any B2B brand can find a narrative,” he says. “If there is an origin story around the founder then future buyers will connect with that and the brand.”

Exabeam itself was founded by Nir Polak after he received a security alert regarding one of his credit cards. “Stories will hook clients in because the marketing becomes more about the people behind the business rather than being too product focused,” claims Matthews.

He says the Exabeam product is about security but the marketing messaging focuses on the human element. “When there is a problem the IT team have to work overtime and weekends, which means they are not spending so much time with their family and friends.”

The lost opportunity

Colin Lewis, CMO at travel retailing platform OpenJaw Technologies, says that historically B2B marketing was seen as the ugly child internally. These were the guys who organised the client golf days and product photo shoots.

“The internet has changed this because it is clearly visible how leads are being generated,” he says. “Big B2B brands such as IBM, Microsoft or Intel have always needed a proper and evolving brand story because they operate in such a dynamic market, but for other companies the challenge can be getting the sales function to buy into the importance of long-term brand building.”

Lewis is proud of OpenJaw Technologies’ own brand story: “We were set up by three entrepreneurs and are now a 400-strong company with high-profile clients such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific. Telling your story and not just talking about product boosts your credibility and can change the perception buyers might have of your business.

“This is also important when we talk about improving the employer brand and attracting talent.”

Communications agency FleishmanHillard Fishburn has carried out its own research into how brand affects B2B marketing and sales. Its study reveals that 32% of people rank brand reputation as the most influential attribute they look for in a supplier. This was second behind value for money (57%). Buyers also want to work with brands that have built up a reputation as industry experts and storytelling thought leaders.

Claudia Bate, head of technology at FleishmanHillard Fishburn, says the C-suite is beginning to pay closer attention to how branding can help businesses stand out in a crowded market where the buying process if long and complex.

“Modern B2B marketing needs to appeal to both hearts and minds,” she says. “The decision-makers that matter do not leave their emotions and personalities at the door when they go to work. Creative storytelling, quality content and a distinctive brand identity are hugely important tools for breaking through the noise to drive real business value.”

Source: https://www.marketingweek.com/2019/06/05/b2b-brands-invest-brand-marketing/

Diversity In Influencer Marketing: Why Representation Matters

YouTuber influencer culture has seen a fair amount of drama lately. There was the famous feud between James Charles and Tati Westbrook, and during that timeframe, Gen Z fashion app Dote was called out across social media for their lack of diversity in their Dote Girls branded campaigns. 

At a recent influencer trip, YouTube star Daniella Perkins shared her experience with racial exclusion at the Dote house where the influencers were staying and promoting Dote at Coachella. This shocking revelation prompted many A-list Gen Z influencers such as Emma Chamberlain, Ellie Thumann, and Summer Mckeen to end their relationship with the fashion app. 

Dote vows to be a more inclusive brand, but it begs the question: how can the influencer marketing ecosystem be more representative of all genders, races, sexualities, and perspectives?

Here are how brands, influencers, and influencer marketplace and agencies can collectively work together to do a better job in promoting diversity and inclusion.

Brands: Highlight diversity in campaigns.

Brands are leveraging influencers now more than ever. They’re tapping into every type of influencer whether B2B employee ambassadors, fashion nano-influencers, or celebrities with millions of followers. With this immense investment in influencer marketing, brands need to think about inclusivity from the very start of their campaign strategy. 

Eric Toda, former marketing executive at Gap Inc., Airbnb, Nike, and Snapchat who has created high-visibility global campaigns with influencers like Beyonce and Kim Kardashian, shared his thoughts on how brands can do better: 

“You tend to see marketers let their unconscious biases’ make decisions. It’s not a secret that marketing is a predominantly white industry so naturally there are marketers who choose influencers who look like them; it’s safe, it’s relatable, but unfortunately, it’s not real life.

As marketers we continue to be one of the only industries in the world that can influence large masses of people; we can do that in the effort of good, or we can choose the other route. We need to put values-driven messages out there, show real life versus a sterilized mirage, and instill purpose. You can achieve this by partnering with influencers that represent different stories, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc.”

Influencer Marketing Takeaway: When crafting your campaigns, think about your target demographic and imagine how they’d react to a non-diverse influencer mix. Be strategic in finding influencers that represent your audience and brand values. This allows for more positive brand sentiment and affinity as you’re leveraging connectivity between community and influencer. 

Influencers: Research the right partnerships. 

Being an influencer is a business. With a high-followership, influencers have opportunities to produce content for a broader audience through brand partnerships. Influencers need to research the right brands to work alongside.

Indian-American beauty influencer Arshia Moorjani who has over 600,000 social media followers and works with top brands like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder is passionate about the choices she makes with brand deals:

“I have turned down many campaigns because the brand is not inclusive, and this goes beyond the products. Before agreeing to any campaigns, I study the brand from looking at their products, social media accounts, and past campaigns. 

I also love to meet brands in person to understand their core values. It’s not just about accepting another paycheck; it’s about aligning myself with brands who actually create products for my skin tone but represent a large group of people. 

I want brands to continue to work with a diverse group of people, not for the sake of being inclusive but from an understanding of why actually diversity matters. Everyone should feel represented in this industry and that goes beyond one’s skin tone. True diversity means showcasing people with different backgrounds, genders, body types, ages, sexual orientation, audience size, and more.”

Influencer Marketing Takeaway: Influencers need to align with forward-thinking inclusive brands like Fenty Beauty, MAC Cosmetics, and NARS that are creating products for a wide audience, but are also showcasing diversity on their social media accounts and campaigns. 

Influencer marketplaces and agencies: Educate clients.

Influencer marketplaces and agencies help facilitate connections and campaigns for brands and influencers. Employees at these marketplaces and agencies can help educate their clients on how to optimize successful campaigns by showing data and insights that highlight the importance of inclusivity. 

Kate Edwards, COO of influencer marketplace, Heartbeat, is actively encouraging brands to work with influencers of all ethnicities, genders, sizes, and perspectives. She explains:

“We are on the front lines of showing brands the value of working with diverse, everyday people who are actually the brand’s consumers. Millennials and Gen Z are actively looking for brands to represent people who look like them and share their values, and this is a major shift in how “influence” is perceived.

Sometimes, when we go to a brand to talk to them about influencer marketing, they are looking for a cookie-cutter influencer, many of whom represent traditional standards of beauty. However, we have to sit the brands down and tell them that working with real people, serving their actual demographic, is much better for their brand. It’s been an uphill battle, but we’re making progress. Plus, the data in terms of our campaign results speaks for itself.”

Influencer Marketing Takeaway: Influencer marketplaces and agencies need to be at the forefront of leading the charge in providing a diverse array of influencers to their clients. By showing data points and leveraging insider knowledge they can help to create impactful campaigns that transcend the traditional standards of beauty.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/katetalbot/2019/06/02/diversity-in-influencer-marketing-why-representation-matters/

Direct-To-Consumer Brands Are Out-Marketing Traditional Retailers–But It Comes At A Cost

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands continue to up-end business models and rewrite the playbook on how to engage customers. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in retail that a new report from CommerceNextshows an increasing divide in ecommerce marketing spending and priorities between traditional retailers and digital-first DTC brands.

The research clearly demonstrates that one of the biggest differences between traditional retailers and DTC brands is their investment in marketing. Marketing budgets across all retail business models are on the rise: 65% of respondents said their 2019 budget increased over the previous year. Conversely, only 10% of marketers indicated that they are reducing their budget. However, DTC brands’ budgets are increasing at a higher rate. In 2019, 78% of DTC marketers said their budgets had increased, compared to 60% of traditional retailers.

With larger marketing budgets and consumer tastes veering sharply in their favor, DTC brands are now dictating the terms of a new ecommerce customer experience. DTC brands have methodically seized market share by innovating on product, marketing tactics and technologies. The mattress industry serves as a stark example—dozens of new DTC bed-in-a-box mattress brands have sprung up while the incumbent retailer, Mattress Firm, had to restructure the company in bankruptcy in order to survive.

Unfortunately for DTC brands, the research also shows how this relentless focus on marketing comes with its own subsequent set of growing pains—those that traditional retailers have already worked through. All this innovation has its price, resulting in some notable differences in priorities and challenges between traditional retailers and DTC brands:

  • DTC brands are starting to focus on achieving profitability at scale. Nearly 45% of DTC brands named “achieving profitability at scale” as a top barrier to meeting 2019 marketing goals. In contrast, less than 18% of traditional retailers named this as a barrier.
  • DTC brands are experiencing concern over finding and retaining top workforce talent. Twenty-six percent of DTC brands named this as a barrier for 2019, compared to 20% of traditional retailers.
  • DTC brands focus on new channels over promotions. DTC brands are turning away from the use of promotions in favor of other channels, such as programmatic TV, to attract new customers. Once the domain of only the largest retailers with the biggest budgets, television is now a hearty feeding ground for many digital-first DTC ad campaigns.

Despite varying marketing spends and the resulting challenges for DTC brands, retailers of all business models reported sharing many of the same business woes and goals:

  • Acquisition marketing is still the prime directive.Acquisition marketing transcends business models as a top priority for all ecommerce marketers. A full 81% of ecommerce marketers named acquisition as a top investment priority. Ecommerce marketers plan to spend even more on acquisition in 2019.
  • Getting a unified view of the customer remains a struggle. Most marketers are not satisfied with their efforts to create a single view of the customer and personalize the customer experience. In 2019, the top innovation investment priority for all ecommerce marketers, regardless of business model, is in customer data platforms.
  • Marketers must make faster, more informed decisions.About 30% of ecommerce marketers from both traditional and DTC brands were most challenged by executing quickly enough on marketing initiatives.

Unencumbered by legacy technology, DTC challenger brands are reporting heavier investment in modern marketing solutions that help them respond more quickly to trends, acquire new customers across multiple channels and build loyalty. If they can overcome some of their early-stage growth challenges of profitability and talent, they will continue to take market share.

Traditional brands now have a choice: they can up their marketing investments and adopt new approaches to ecommerce that will help them grow; or, they can slide silently into the history books of traditional retailers unwilling to adapt to changing times.

Source:https://www.forbes.com/sites/veronikasonsev/2019/05/30/direct-to-consumer-brands-are-out-marketing-traditional-retailers-but-it-comes-at-a-cost/

LinkedIn Improves Video Marketing Metrics via New Integration with Moat

Video is the best performing content type on all social media platforms, and that includes the professional social network LinkedIn. According to internal data, LinkedIn users are 20x more likely to share a video on the platform than any other type of post – while for paid content, LinkedIn members now spend 300% more time watching video ads, as compared to time spent with static Sponsored Content.

If you’re looking to maximize your LinkedIn marketing performance, video should be somewhere on your considerations list. Catering to this, over the last year, the platform has added new sticker and text options to give your video presentations another creative element, the aforementioned Video Sponsored Content (launched last July), and video for company pages.

And now, LinkedIn is improving its measurement options for video, to help assure marketers of their actual performance.

The platform has this week announced a new integration with Moat Analytics, which will provide additional, third party data oversight to further validate on-platform video data.

“Validating the impact of your LinkedIn video ads just became a no-brainer with Oracle Data Cloud’s Moat Analytics + LinkedIn. Moat Analytics is a third-party analytics and measurement platform that enables advertisers to consistently measure viewability metrics of their ads across multiple platforms. Using the Moat Analytics integration, LinkedIn advertisers can now validate their metrics for accuracy and compare video campaign results across platforms in one streamlined location.”

Moat’s video performance data has become the industry standard, with several other social platforms already offering supplementary Moat data to solidify their metric offerings (and provide additional, third-party reassurance).

LinkedIn says that the integration “gives LinkedIn advertisers the ability to validate their viewability metrics, while also providing traffic quality verification”. In addition, LinkedIn is adding in new analytic capability, with extra ‘audibility’ metrics.

“With a deeper understanding of the viewability and audibility metrics your video campaigns are producing, you’re able to better determine which messages best captivate your audience. That provides you with a recipe for finding what works and then following that template – rinse and repeat.”

LinkedIn was a little late to the video shift, with LinkedIn’s own native video option only released in August 2017, but as the stats here show, it’s already become a much bigger part of the LinkedIn ecosystem. That’s an important shift to consider in your platform approach – and when you also consider that LinkedIn is currently seeing ‘record levels of engagement‘ it may be worth giving both LinkedIn and LinkedIn video ads additional thought.

Source:
https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/linkedin-improves-video-marketing-metrics-via-new-integration-with-moat/555865/

These Are the Biggest Job Opportunites in Content Marketing

It’s an exciting time to work in content marketing, and the possibilities for making an impact in the space seem endless.

Not only have more and more brands made content an essential part of their marketing strategy (and nearly 50 percent of their budget!) but more and more roles are opening for exceptional creative and strategic talent. For those interested in moving away from other related professions, such as PR, traditional journalism and copywriting, the newly created positions and ever-increasing salaries in content can be a real incentive.

As the founder of a content marketing company, what I find so inspiring about these jobs aren’t the powerful brand names or the perks that the companies offer–but rather, the incredible opportunities to they present do something meaningful, creative and industry-shaping every day at work.

Ready freshen up your resume and flex your skillset? Here are four ways that you could make a big career change–and a major impact through content. 

The Opportunity: Transform an Established Brand’s Strategy

Are you passionate about travel? A coveted role with the content marketing team at Marriott International provides an ideal opportunity to share amazing stories with a global audience.

Earlier this year I spoke with Scott Weisenthal, Marriott International’s Vice President of Creative and Content Marketing, about his team’s work. He revealed that storytelling is a core part of the company’s content marketing strategy.

Creative and personalized content helps to strengthen Marriott’s relationship with guests. “You have to have that connection with them to turn guests into brand advocates,” Weisenthal said. For example, Marriott’s documentary series StoryBooked follows artists around the world as they look for inspiration, and also highlights Marriott’s robust loyalty programs.

The Opportunity: Build a Content Strategy from the Ground Up

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are flourishing, and with more than 400 of them across nearly every consumer category, it’s a smart time to lead an up-and-coming DTC brand’s content marketing efforts.

For companies offering a new spin on everything from electric toothbrushes to razors to vitamins, there are endless opportunities to establish relationships with customers, and add value to their experience, by providing them truly useful and relevant content. 

Because many of these companies are growing rapidly and offer plenty of creative flexibility, they’re able to lure away top talent from traditional publications to run their content divisions. One notable example: Betty Wong, one-time editor in chief of Fitness magazine and Runner’s World recently took the top content spot at the oral care brand Quip

The Opportunity: Bring a Trendy Brand’s Message to New Audiences  

Passionate about fitness? If you’ve ever been to a SoulCycle class, you know that the brand is a phenomenon in the industry. Now, it’s building a world-class media business to help maintain its momentum and the hyper-engaged community of riders who regularly interact with SoulCycle’s content on social media.

The media team is creating content across social, video, and even live experiences, like concerts. And with top marketing and content leadershipfrom Mashable, Glamour, and Vox, the brand is investing in content marketing initiatives in a big way.

But SoulCycle isn’t the only fitness brand focusing on content marketing. Peloton, a company known for its at-home workout offering and subscriptions for live classes, hired a Chief Content Officer who’s tasked with setting the strategy for all content marketing across the organization. By giving content marketing a dedicated voice in the C-Suite, Peloton is leading the way for other fitness brands to devote more resources to content and audience engagement across multiple platforms.

The Opportunity: Fuel a Mission-Driven Brand’s Story

If you love the great outdoors and want to think outside the box when it comes to content marketing, look no further than a role on the marketing team at REI. The popular outdoor gear brand is leading its category with creative content marketing.

Take the company’s #OptOutside campaign, for example. As part of the award-winning campaign, REI closed its stores on Black Friday and encouraged customers to spend time enjoying outdoor activities with loved ones. (REI’s Director of Content and Media was even named the 2017 Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute for his work on the campaign!)

REI also creates creative content across video, short films, and even podcasts to connect with customers in new ways. Through their work, marketers at the company have a chance to promote messaging around sustainability, activism, and wellness.

Source: https://www.inc.com/amanda-pressner-kreuser/these-are-biggest-job-opportunites-in-content-marketing.html

15 Awesome Marketing Tools I Use Daily

There are so many tools at a marketer‘s disposal.

You’ll find everything under the sun, including project management software, social media dashboards, Facebook Messenger chatbot builders and so much more.

With all the options, it can be come a little overwhelming — to the point that a lot of these powerhouse, unicorn tools get lost in the shuffle.

That’s why I rounded up the marketing  tools you actually need.

Every tool on this list is a tool I stand behind, and use in my day-to-day work life.

Read on to discover the 15 tools I can’t live without!

1. MobileMonkey

Facebook Messenger marketing is one of the hottest digital marketing trends out there, and with good reason.

Facebook Messenger messages earn an 80% average open rate an 20% open rate — and those numbers blow email marketing out of the water.

If you want those impressive levels of engagement for your own brand, then the first thing you need to do is a build a Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Enter MobileMonkey.

MobileMonkey is the best Facebook Messenger chatbot builder out there — and did I mention it’s free?

With this MobileMonkey, you can build your first Messenger chatbot easily, with no coding required.

You can use your bot to send out messages (a.k.a. chatblast), answer questions, interact with contacts, conduct surveys, and so much more.

It can help jumpstart your Messenger live support and marketing campaign.

Use your MobileMonkey-powered chatbot to attract leads and drive engagement!

2. VisualHunt

Good content marketing involves having high quality images to go with your text.

Having a source of those high quality images is necessary to deliver the best content possible.

VisualHunt is a great source of free high quality images pulled from many online sources.

Their photos have Creative Commons Zero license, making them free for commercial use.

They also have Creative Commons and Public Domain photos you can embed on your content directly from the website.

Just search the keyword or theme you’re looking for and you should find the images you need.

3. Venngage

Nothing beats infographics for delivering information in a visually engaging way.

They’re often better than text, video, and photographs alone, making them a must-have in your content marketing.

With Venngage, you can create amazing infographics for your content in three easy steps.

You can choose a template in Venngage, add your data into charts and visuals, and then customize your design.

With over a hundred templates to choose from, Venngage is one of the best places to create infographics quickly and easily.

4. Serpstat

If you’re looking to get serious with your digital marketing, then you need an all-in-one SEO platform you can depend on.

Serpstat was designed for professional marketers who are looking to gain that extra edge.

You can get that by having all the data before you to make decisions on any online business marketing plan.

Serpstat has research tools with advanced analytics for you to learn about your audience.

It keeps record of historical data over time, giving you a bird’s eye view of your performance.

You can also group keywords by tags while also gathering insights in your traffic distribution.

That lets you know where you’re getting results from and what needs improving.

5. Contentful

This service is great for those looking to add more juice to their content marketing efforts.

Contentful boasts a new, more flexible approach to content management, promising to make blogging and content creation a breeze.

It’s an API-driven content management infrastructure designed to create, manage, and distribute content to any platform or device easily.

Basically, it’s like WordPress, but has a lot more bells and whistles that make it more secure and does your content management for you.

Companies like Spotify, Urban Outfitters, Red Bull, and so on make use of Contentful for their websites.

Running your website on Contentful lets you be steps ahead of everyone else with your content marketing.

6. Hotjar

Being able to understand how your audience behaves when they view your website can give you tremendous insight.

Hotjar lets you see where your visitors tend to click with its heatmap, letting you know what catches their attention.

You can then adjust your web design and content to encourage more clicks and engagement with your content.

It can also give you recordings of where their mouse cursors tend to go, how fast they scroll, and so on.

You also get to see your conversion funnel, showing how much of your audience goes from landing page to actual conversion.

With the information you get from Hotjar, you can fine-tune your website to bring in more customers and increase your revenue.

7.  WP-Chatbot by MobileMonkey

Having a Facebook Messenger-powered chat widget on your website is a surefire way to take your engagement and time on page to the next level.

The WP-Chatbot plugin adds a Facebook Messenger widget on your website.

It has complete integration with Messenger and your Facebook business page.

Visitors can then engage with your business easily without having to leave your website.

Since chatbot is integrated with Facebook Messenger, every person who interacts with you on the site will be added to your ever-growing Facebook Messenger contact list — which means you’ll be able to follow up with your chat participants after that initial site chat.

No doubt about it, adding a MobileMonkey chat widget to your site will increase engagement, provide new leads, drive conversions and boost revenue.

8. Buildfire

Adding an app to your business can be quite an upgrade, letting you reach even more users who use mobile devices.

Buildfire lets you build your own app from simple templates with no coding required.

If you know how to build stuff like websites, chatbots, and so on with templates, then you should be able to build an app here.

It’s almost like MobileMonkey, but for mobile apps on iOS or Android instead of chatbots in terms of what you can do with it.

Of course, building apps involves a lot more than just setting triggers and tasks for a chatbot.

Buildfire helps you throughout that process, letting you create an app that works for your business as you like it.

The best thing about it is it’s free to build an app in Buildfire by yourself, and you can also choose to hire Buildfire to do it for you.

9. DrumUp

If you’re looking for more help on your content and social media marketing, then this app may be for you.

DrumUp is a free and easy-to-use app that lets you manage multiple social media accounts more easily.

You can curate top content in your niche easily and save time on managing all your accounts by up to 90%.

It can even help you do more and reach out to more people with its great features and compatibility with many platforms.

DrumUp also lets you measure the social media engagement you’re getting through its analytics.

Keeping your profiles updated need not be such a big chore anymore thanks to DrumUp.

10. BrightEdge

Artificial intelligence has made digital marketing even more convenient in recent years, and BrightEdge takes advantage of it.

It lets you do SEO and content marketing more effectively through its AI to power organic search performance.

BrightEdge lets you track and use deep data and context to better your search engine optimization.

It also helps you run a high-performing website through its data intelligence.

You can then create high-quality content that satisfies customer demand through BrightEdge.

11. Todoist

The rigors of day-to-day digital marketing work can bog you down over time, making it seem like you’re no longer in control.

Todoist can help you take that control back by doing things like give you reminders on things you tend to forget.

You can enter your tasks for the day and have a list that lets you remember what to prioritize.

But Todoist isn’t just like any other productivity service as it’s designed mostly for business.

This lets you use a sleek interface for tracking your own thoughts, work tasks, errands, and so on easily.

Todoist can definitely help organize your work life with greater deal of clarity.

12. Visage

Visual storytelling is an art on its own, as it’s all about showing instead of just telling.

Visage is a visualization platform that lets content marketers create on-brand visual content easily.

This relatively new app features enable data visualization without all the finangling and hair-splitting.

You just need to enter your data and choose how it can be best shown, and you can edit it there like in Canva.

It also has additional features that makes it great for collaboration, which makes for seamless for group work.

Visage enables seamless ideation, design, distribution, and analytics for your visual content.

13. Oktopost

Managing all your social media activities can be tedious over time, especially for businesses.

Oktopost makes that easier for B2B enterprises, combining three separate solutions into one.

You get social media management, social employee advocacy, and social media promotions in one tight package.

If you’re looking to up your social media game for your B2B business, Oktopost is worth looking into.

14. Vidyard

Videos can be some of the best content you can make to increase engagement and conversions.

Vidyard is a tool you can use to make personalized videos easily without having to be an expert at video editing.

It lets you customize your video with ease, and you can then embed it anywhere you want.

With videos you make with Vidyard, you can maximize your first impressions and endear your business more to the people.

15. ContentCal

Making content is one of the more daunting tasks in marketing, but also one of the most crucial as it’s the meat of the campaign.

But it does get tedious over time and it may seem like you’re no longer in control of your time when you’re in the thick of it.

ContentCal can help you take back control with its visual calendar designed for planning and auto-publishing your social media content.

It’s used by many big companies and agencies for their content and social media marketing needs.

You can learn more on how to go about your content and social media through its analytics.

It also lets you customize your setup so you can tailor-fit ContentCal for every sub-brand, client, or company you work with.

Victory loves preparation, and you too can taste success every single day with a plan laid out in ContentCal.

Source: https://www.inc.com/larry-kim/15-awesome-marketing-tools-i-use-daily.html