7 Key Things to Know About Marketing in Emerging Media

7Takeaways

Eight weeks in a graduate-level “Emerging Media & The Market” course does not an expert make; however, the class covered a lot of good ground, leaving me with new knowledge and several key takeaways. Here are 7:

  1. Consider Strategy First, Technology Second
    I
    n order to succeed on emerging platforms, marketers need to look beyond the technical details and know-how; instead, they need to focus on objectives, strategy, metrics, processes and structure.
  2. Choose Quality Over Quantity
    When it comes to emerging channels, brands and marketers don’t have to be everywhere, but they definitely need to be where their customers/target demographics are.
  3. Get Mobile-Friendly – NOW
    Smartphones and other mobile devices are becoming a larger access point across demographics, and the experience these users have colors their perception of the brand as a whole. Not to mention the vital role a mobile-friendly website plays in local and voice search results.
  4. Create Content That Goes Beyond Products
    Content is king – for search, shares and relationships. Remember content marketing’s major rule of thumb: if it feels like marketing, no one will spread it for you.
  5. Utilize Customer Data
    Because they share data, today’s customers expect marketing that is relevant, personalized, and to some extent, anticipatory (in the case of recommendation agents, pre-emptive customer service and more).
  6. You Can Never Go Wrong with Opt-Ins and Transparency
    Mobile phone tracking capability is here, but that doesn’t mean consumers want marketers to use it. In a survey, 64% said they think an opt-in should be necessary vs. the 12 % who were ok with automatic, unconscious tracking. Respect your customers by requiring an opt-in, always allowing an opt-out, and being transparent about the data you’re collecting and why.
  7. Make Your Customer’s Life Easier
    Whatever the media platform, this should be your ultimate objective if you’re looking to create and maintain lifetime customers and brand advocates.

Getting Online Reviews – A Two-Step Approach

Getting Online Reviews

Word of mouth has always been a powerful marketing tool, and now that word of mouth has gone digital, that power has only multiplied. A recent Nielsen report found that more than 80% of consumers trust recommendations and reviews from their family and friends – no surprise. What may be more surprising is that 2/3 trust online recommendations and reviews from people they don’t even know.

How do marketers harness the power of consumer reviews? By following two simple steps.

  1. Focus on what and where

    It’s great to get five-star reviews, don’t get me wrong. But should we be asking customers to share a bit more about their experiences with us? Looks like it.

    Consumers react to reviews containing personal stories.

    Consumers react to reviews containing personal stories.

    And where do we want customers to be sharing these (hopefully) positive personal stories and pro/con lists? Well, given their importance to local search, Google reviews are the place to start.  Once you get Google going, you’ll want to focus on the most trusted online sources for reviews, which, according to AdWeek are Facebook, retail sites themselves and Pinterest.

  1. Make it easy

    Now that we know the kinds of things we want customers to say and where we want them to say it, we marketers have to not only encourage reviews but also make them as easy as possible. A great way to do this is an idea from Search Engine Watch – on your company’s website, set up a feedback/review landing page with links to all the major sites on which you want a review, in order of importance, along with directions to users on how to access each site. You can then drive customers to this one place in emails, in-store signage, receipts, etc.

Any other thoughts on how to encourage online customer reviews?

Mobile Notifications – Pushing Customers In or Away?

Companies use mobile apps to keep customers engaged and to sell them more products. With apps come a variety of communication options, including in-app messaging and push notifications. The former is just as it sounds, allowing marketers to send targeted, personalized messages to the user based on his/her actions while using the app. The latter allows the marketer to send something to user’s home screen even if they’re not using the marketer’s app at the time. This disruption lends a certain urgency to the message, which is why many brands use this method to announce flash sales or other breaking news.

Still, disruption and urgency can quickly lead to irritation, and so push notifications must be used sparingly. Localytics found that almost half of users will opt-out if they receive 2 to 5 push messages in one week. Send 6 to 10 pushes in a week, and consumers will push your app right off of their phones, deleting it completely.

chart showing how increasing number of push notifications leads to customer deletions

Too many notifications can push customers to delete an app.

Of course, there are also those customers who never opt-in to pushes in the first place. A 2015 Urban Airship study found that only 42% of app users were opting in to push notifications. Some app categories saw opt-in rates as low as 33%.

Overall opt-in rate for mobile push notifications is 42%.

Overall opt-in rate for mobile push notifications is 42%.

Given that, we’d all do well to remember what Marketing Land is telling us – “Above all, you should remember the key to success — don’t be annoying and use each push strategy sparingly with value-based content to get the best results over time.”

How do you feel about mobile push notifications as a marketer? As a consumer?

 

Make Your Customers :-) Use Emojis in Your Marketing.

While analyzing the Scrub Daddy brand for an assignment, I noted their use of emojis in responding to customers on social media, especially Facebook.

ScrubEmoji

Now, this is especially clever given that their brand is “The Smile Face Sponge,” but what about for other brands? Are emojis always an appropriate way to communicate with your audience? Does it depend at all on the brand, the channel, the content?

While every brand has to remain true to its voice and keep its content relevant, it would seem that, when done well, emoji use can benefit any company or organization. That’s because 92 percent of Internet users utilize emojis, and so when any brand uses them, they’re speaking their customers’ language.

That high usage stems from a variety of reasons, including people’s short attention spans, preference for images over text (especially among millennials)  and the emotional appeal of those little icons. As marketing expert Neil Patel cites, “Emoticons are effective in improving enjoyment, personal interaction and the perceived information richness of our messages.”

Emojis not only increase interaction among people but also among people and brands, as evidenced by this Facebook stat:

Of course, there are some general emoji marketing do’s and don’ts, including limiting the number of emojis you use in any single communication, keeping them authentic and relevant to your message, and using them only in light-hearted/humorous rather than serious content.

So go ahead and give emojis a try in your next social post, app push notification or email. You’ll show your human side to your audience and still be considered legit by your colleagues. After all, industry stalwart Ad Age took the time to recognize the top 10 emoji campaigns of 2015, and if you start now, there’s still time to make their 2016 list. 🙂

Mobile Clicks But Doesn’t Convert — What To Do

As covered here and in numerous other blogs and studies, mobile Web traffic has grown exponentially over the last decade. With it has grown mobile ad click-through rates, which according to Adroit Digital’s research, outstrip CTRs for desktop in all age categories.

Bar graph showing Internet users are more likely to click on mobile ads.

Users of all ages are more likely to click on mobile ads.

But for all their clicks, customers on their phones don’t seem to be converting at the same rate as when they’re sitting at their desktops.

Mobile conversion rates are 1/3 that of desktop.

Mobile conversion rates are 1/3 that of desktop.

So what’s a savvy digital marketer to do? Should we really be curbing our digital advertising spends in light of this research? Or does it lie within our power to improve conversions? Do we simply accept mobile’s role in the upper end of the purchasing funnel? All of the above?

Curb Mobile Ad Spend?

Search Engine Watch recently conducted an experiment with promoted tweets, keeping everything the same except for the targeted device (desktop vs. mobile). As expected, mobile garnered almost twice as many clicks but had a 60 percent lower conversion rate and a 160 percent higher acquisition cost.

This experiment is a powerful lesson to marketers – urging us to consider our end goals and budget in conjunction with the channel we’re using. It doesn’t mean we should abandon digital altogether, but perhaps we should curb our mobile ad spend when we’re looking to maximize certain conversions (such as downloading a white paper, which was the experiment’s CTA) and/or control cost-per-lead.

Improve Mobile Conversions – Or Change Definition?

Still, with some help from Unbounce, hope remains for both mobile landing pages and conversions. It’s ok to ask mobile users to complete a form, but that form had better be concise (four fields or less) and friendly, with fields auto switching the device’s keyboard from alpha to numeric where appropriate.

And perhaps instead of form completions or click-throughs, the real conversion we should be measuring on mobile is the click-to-call rate.

Phone calls are a great KPI to measure for mobile.

Phone calls are a great KPI to measure for mobile.

Calls may seem old-school in this day and age, but for all their intelligence, smartphones are still phones.

Accept It?

Of course, just because mobile ads/pages aren’t leading to instantaneous, quantifiable conversions, it doesn’t mean they’re not helping customers along their buying journeys. As Strands Retail points out, mobile is primarily used for upper funnel activities like product discovery, browsing, research and comparison.

Experiences? Opinions?

What’s been your experience with mobile conversion rates? Do you think they’ll ever catch up to desktop? Why or why not? Is that ok?

The Evolution of Virtual Campus Tours

We’ve decided to blend traditional and emerging channels, and we have our team set up to maximize the use of each. Now what? Which emerging channels deserve our attention and how should we be using them?

Much has been made about the “The Rise of Social Video,” including its rising viewing and engagement numbers, as well as new technology that makes it easier to capture and stream live video, including Periscope and Meerkat. Some have taken it a step further and predicted a larger role for virtual reality in marketing.

Colleges and universities have been early adopters of all this technology as they seek to bring the campus experience to prospective students – even if they can’t visit physically. And students seem receptive. Last year, 56 percent of high school juniors said they were interested in virtual campus tours.

Back in 2012, The Huffington Post highlighted technology’s potential in regards to prospectives, which at that point centered around a company called 3D Virtual Campus Tours having students create avatars to walk around a video-game-like version of their campus while getting information and recommendations from an admissions advisor on a headset.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Fortune Magazine was profiling a company called YouVisit, which has created more than 1,000 virtual college tours designed to run on the VR headset Oculus Rift. Besides being a more immersive, realistic experience, there’s also the undeniable cool factor; students may line up at certain admissions booths at a college fair just to say they experienced the headset. Still, VR doesn’t seem to have hit the mainstream quite yet.

Virtual Tours Compared(1)

What has hit the mainstream in 2016 are live streaming video apps like Periscope, which has 10 million users, some of whom are college admissions departments.

The great CollegeWebEditor.com blog had a post this past summer about two schools using Periscope to do mini, teaser tours to show off different parts of their campuses. The production values are lower than most colleges are usually comfortable with, but that’s part of the appeal to students, as it lends an air of authenticity millennials appreciate in marketing. Plus, the commenting feature allows instant questions and feedback.

Will live streaming campus tours become the norm? Will they stimulate or supplant the traditional on-campus experience? Take a look at my comparison graphic, and let me know your thoughts.

Structuring for Success

So in last week’s post, we decided that today’s IMC campaigns must utilize a variety of offline and online channels to successfully connect with and persuade audiences. Of course, these various channels must be orchestrated in such a way as to ensure 1. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and 2. when taken collectively, they present a consistent brand experience for the consumer.

Such orchestration is not easy, and in fact, may demand the restructuring of marketing departments, teams and agencies. In a great blog post titled “The Marketing Department of the Future,” Samuel Scott argues against dividing your marketing department by tactic type – traditional and emerging/digital. Instead, he proposes that teams be broken down by four larger, more general functions: Strategy, Creative, Communications, and Audit.

ModernDept

This post struck a chord with me as my marcom department is in the midst of a reorganization of its own. For the last several years, we’ve had more of a department/client/product-centered focus, with individual account managers planning and executing campaigns and tactics in a bit of a silo. However, these account managers all have different strengths and so may have reached out to each other (informally) for help with graphic design, online ad placement, Web development or PR.

We just recently started a transition to a structure that is more in line with what Scott is proposing in the graphic above, albeit with a few differences. Instead of Scott’s four lanes, we’ll have three, with digital continuing to be separated out: marketing, communications and digital/Web. While different from Scott’s proposal, this new structure should allow us to better focus on his four pillars than we were able to before, as marketing can focus on strategy, creative (copy) and some audit; communications can focus on, what else – communications and a bit of what Scott would classify as creative content; and digital can focus on creative (landing pages and other functionality) and audit (analytics).

As weeks go by and the transition ramps up, I’ll be sure to update you all and let you know how it’s going. In the meantime, I’m wondering – how are your marcom departments/teams structured? Do you feel they need to change in light of today’s IMC landscape?

What’s that you say? You hadn’t thought about department structure? Well, it may be time to start. As Neil Perkin points out on his “Only Dead Fish” blog, the future of digital marketing belongs not to those who simply utilize the channels but those who utilize them effectively — with the right infrastructure of strategies, processes and team structures firmly in place.

DigitalFramework

Changing Channels with Consumers

To be effective, marketing messages have to be delivered to the right consumers through the right channels. But these days, as new channels pop up almost daily, which are the right ones?

Obviously, a question that crucial is going to have a complex answer — several, in fact. This blog will attempt to chip away at some of those answers as we explore the role of emerging media channels in the marketing/communications field.

Let’s start with the data. The ways in which people access information online have changed. This time last year marked the first time mobile-only Internet access topped desktop-only Internet access.

mobileTopsDesktop

Mobile Internet growth has not only increased the amount of time people spend online, it’s also given rise to unique mobile-first and/or mobile-only apps and platforms like Instagram, Vine and Snapchat.

But just because consumers are more connected to the Internet, does that mean they want to be more connected to brands and advertisers? Just because they’re on these emerging platforms, does that necessarily mean they expect advertisers to be there too?

As in any realm, actions speak louder than words, and so far, consumers appear to be responding to brands in the ever-widening online landscape, if ad click-through rates are any indication.

CTRs

Bolstered by numbers like these, advertisers’ confidence in the power of digital seems to be increasing — along with their spend. While digital accounted for just 28% of the country’s $187 billion ad spend in 2015, it is the fastest growing segment, by far.

ChangeInAdSpend

But as this graphic shows, the advertising industry isn’t truly changing channels as it was defined back in the days of non-voice-activated remotes and VCRs; that is, we’re not watching (spending on) only one channel at the the exclusion of everything else that’s on. Instead we marketers can think of our digital spend as the channel/show we’re most excited about, the one we’re going to watch live because is has the most potential impact. We watch it not because we want to miss the other shows that are on (or in this analogy, the more traditional media channels we can advertise on), it’s just that those other shows are slightly less important to us and so can be recorded by our DVR, watched online or caught up on via Netflix, YouTube, etc.

Just as consumers use a variety of channels to keep up with their favorite shows, modern marketers must use a variety of channels to keep up with their consumers. But which channels should be primary, which secondary and which ignored entirely? How do we even use some of the newer channels? Which channels can be combined for maximum effectiveness? Which channels hold the most appeal for select demographics? Stay tuned…