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Posts Tagged ‘Branding’

Digital Marketing: Content marketing, social media and SEO predictions for 2015

February 20th, 2015
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Every year at Email Summit, we ask marketers for their predictions.

Before MarketingSherpa reporter Courtney Eckerle interviews you about your marketing predictions in the Email Summit Media Center, I figured it was only fair to put a stake in the ground and make some predictions you could hold me to as well.

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Prediction #1: Convergence is the watchword for digital marketing this year

You’ve already seen (and will continue to see) convergence among marketing and business software platforms, and this trend will continue to grow as the line blurs between publishers, brands and marketing agencies.

Curve by Getty Images. Verizon’s experiment with Sugarstring. And, of course, The Red Bulletin. More and more brands are learning the power of building this kind of one-to-one connection with their audiences, building an owned audienc, and not having to borrow interest from television or other content creators.

At the same time, publishers are creating content for brands with their own agency arms, as well (a bit of a blast from the past when newspapers used to help create ads to sell media space).

Tribune Publishing (which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other dailies) bought a stake in Contend, a content agency that creates branded campaigns. Onion Labs, The Onion’s in-house ad agency, has made some seriously cool campaigns. Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ recently hired a director of branded content and launched a branded content shop which blurs the line between editorial and promotion.

Advertising and marketing agencies, more threatened than ever by brands and publishers, will try to get an ownership stake in the ideas they help create, like Anomaly did with EOS cosmetics or how 37signals went from being a website redesign shop to a software company selling Basecamp.

Data, will of course, be huge. This will be of benefit to content creators of all stripes listed above. Since they have the traffic and relationship with the audience, they have the ability to learn the audience’s preferences based on their behavior, and then engage in A/B testing with these audiences to build a strong understanding of the products, services and offers that these customers will most respond to.

But behind it all, let’s not overlook the people with the knowhow to make it happen, which can be a scarce resource — brilliant, brilliant marketers, writers, designers and data scientists.

Being able to navigate this land of data and convergence, networking and real relationships will be critical for the marketer to build cross-functional teams that understand all the elements it will take to be successful — content, technology, data and strategy. That’s one reason we pay so much attention to the audience experience and foster interactions and networking at Email Summit.

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Why You Should Consider Customer Service to be 1-to-1 Marketing

November 7th, 2014
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Some retailers only see customer service as an expense.

They view it as a cost that needs to be ruthlessly cut to the bare minimum by incentivizing call center reps to get the customer off the phone as quickly as possible and push customers to self-service portals instead of providing easy contact information.

Yet, a major challenge retailers face is that many are resellers and the products they sell are commodities.

 

If a customer can buy the product in many places, why should they buy from you?

Since the products are the same, retailers need to create a unique value proposition for their store.

One unique element of value can be your store’s customer service. According to data from the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study, customer responsiveness correlates with success.

Stop thinking of customer service as a cost center and start thinking about it as an investment in one-to-one marketing.

Let me show you what I mean by using a customer journey as an example.

In this case, the customer journey is one I intimately understand since it was my own. (Please Note: I am overdramatizing it for effect and to highlight different decisions that go through the buyer’s head. In reality, some of these journeys may happen in a matter of minutes and many happen at a subconscious level for the customer.)

 

My customer journey

In my hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., it has been raining and hot and cold and dark and bright and buggy and all sorts of other excuses I could come up with for not going running. I needed a fool-proof method for exercising.

After doing some pain-point-level research, I discovered a recumbent exercise bike would be the solution I was looking for, since I could comfortably catch up on HBO Go while exercising – just the motivation I needed. Some product category research led me to the Marcy ME 709 Recumbent Exercise Bike.

Now that my product search was complete, I had to decide where to buy it. This was a commodity product with the same exact model available at many retailers. A quick foray into a shopping search engine identified 38 online stores that sold the exact same bike.

 

One-to-many marketing

There were price differences, and that helped with store selection. But another factor that helped with store selection was one-to-many marketing.

With so many selections, there were various stores I trusted thanks to their overall advertising and branding campaigns, print ads, newspaper circulars, content marketing, a physical presence in my hometown and many other tactics I would consider one-to-many marketing.

This branding, combined with my overall experience with these stores in the past – even excellent branding can’t outweigh negative customer experiences – caused me to prefer some stores over others.

However, there were still many stores to choose from.

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Content Marketing: Lord of the airline safety videos

November 4th, 2014
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Since when did airline safety videos become so darn viral?

What used to be a dry and boring legal formality has now become a way to engage audiences outside of the plane cabin.

As a huge fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movie franchises, my inner nerd did backflips when I watched Air New Zealand’s newest airline safety video:

 

For those not so familiar with the world of J. R. R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson, New Zealand was the filming location for all three “Lord of the Rings” films as well as the more recent “Hobbit” movies.

Featuring actors and characters from the movies, as well as flight attendants dressed as elves and an appearance from director Peter Jackson, Air New Zealand really outdid themselves. (However, I would have liked to see a little more Gollum in the video.)

This isn’t the first time the airline has capitalized on the “Hobbit” hype for its in-flight safety videos. In 2012, they used the theme in coordination with the first “Hobbit” film in the series.

Delta VideoHowever, Air New Zealand is not alone in taking safety videos to the next level.

Delta has produced some pretty entertaining safety videos as well, notably this 80s-inspired throwback featuring big hair, crazy clothes and of course some iconic characters from the time.

 

Storytelling in the strangest places

These safety videos, while still used for the in-flight safety precautions, were undoubtedly created to become viral online.

What was once an untapped resource has become a way to kill two birds with one stone: comply with FAA regulations and entertain viewers.

But even more than that, these videos are great content marketing. For Air New Zealand, the company is gaining more brand awareness from these videos because, let’s face it, most people will probably never make the 24-hour trek to the island.

However, by embracing its ties to the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and getting creative, it’s found a way to reach audiences who may have never heard of the airline company before.

For larger airlines like Delta, I would argue that having more entertaining safety videos is a way to spice up what used to be mundane travel for 165 million travelers each year.

As a popular network, these videos add more personality to the brand.

For me personally, I saw one of Delta’s comedic videos on a trip I took, and that video was the first thing I told my family about when I landed was that video. Even on the flight, people were chuckling and talking about the video, even if they had seen a similar one on a previous trip.

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How to Craft a Viral Campaign in 3 Steps

October 21st, 2014
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In 2012, only half of Americans knew of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after one of its most famous victims. The ALS Association, a nonprofit committed to raise money for research and patient services, raised a combined total of $19.4 million for that year.

Fast forward to today, and the ALS has raised over $100 million this year alone, most of which has been raised in the two month period of July and August.

As many of us know, it’s all due to one viral campaign: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge, in which one records dumping ice water on themselves or donates to the ALS Association, has been shared over 1.2 million times on Facebook and 2.2 million times on Twitter.

The campaign was so successful that critics started to worry about how the challenge would affect counties under severe drought watches.

Why did this campaign, out of all the others floating around on the Internet, go viral?

There’s not a lot we have control over when it comes to the “viralocity” of an image, video or idea. However, according to Malcom Gladwell, there are three elements that increase the probability:

 

The law of the few (Know who to target)

Malcolm Gladwell states in The Tipping Point, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”

Gladwell calls these movers and shakers of the internet realm “connectors.” These are people with the extraordinary gift for making friends and acquaintances. They have a multitude of followers on social networks, and when they mention something on Facebook, it is immediately shared 100 times.

These connectors can be people, a website or a news organization. People want to be connectors.

While in today’s society a connector can translate their social network directly into money or political power, most people simply want the rush they feel when their idea or link is liked or retweeted. A good idea in the hands of a few can spread like wild fire.

 

The stickiness factor (Good content)

The two reasons the ALS Ice Bucket challenge succeeded was because it was for a good cause, and it was easily repeatable. At the end of their individual challenge, the participant then had to challenge three of their friends to replicate them. As the campaign gained momentum, it even grew to include big-name celebrities, such as Oprah, Bill Gates and Steven Spielberg, taking the plunge.

The stickiness factor correlates to your core content, cause or campaign. Is it well thought out? Is it for a good cause? Will it make a difference in someone’s life? More importantly, is it memorable? The more memorable the campaign, the higher the stickiness factor, and the faster it spreads.

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Do You Know How to Take Advantage of Globalization with Your Marketing?

October 3rd, 2014
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The world is getting faster.

In the past few years, the term globalization has been used to describe an unprecedented cultural, economic and political phenomenon that has fundamentally changed the world.

With faster intercontinental travel and almost instantaneous communication technologies, societies, economies and individuals have become more interdependent than ever before.

As globalization spreads more wealth from developed nations and into developing ones, a new global middle class has risen with an even greater desire to consume than 1950s America. According to Internetworldstats.com, the amount of people who have access to the internet has increased 676.32% in the last 14 years. Most of that growth occurred in the continents of Africa and Asia.

So what does that mean to a 21st century marketer?

It means that a taxi driver in Senegal can watch a Yankees game, purchase Yankees related merchandise and spread the Yankees brand to a whole new generation of consumers.

Now imagine if you could deliberately break into this new emerging market.

What would you do? How would you connect with your new potential customers and increase your brand awareness at the same time?

Most companies do it by creating and promoting culturally specific products that vary depending on the region. McDonalds is great at this. Ever heard of the Teriyaki McBurger?

Teriyaki_McBurger

 

It’s a product exclusive to its Japanese market and one of McDonalds Japan’s biggest sellers.

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Ecommerce: Going beyond omnichannel for creative customer experiences

September 9th, 2014
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Omnichannel is a word that many marketers have become familiar with in the past year or so. It’s the evolution of multichannel marketing and, some argue, an overused buzzword.

Lisa Butler, Head of Enterprise Solutions Enablement, eBay, agrees with that statement. In the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE, she sat down with Allison Banko, Reporter, MarketingSherpa, to discuss omnichannel and what it should really mean to marketers.

“So we went from multichannel, to omnichannel, to all channels — what it really means is just allowing customers to shop however they want,” Lisa said.

In its essence, the prefix omni- means “all.” For Lisa, this means “allowing customers to shop anywhere they want, receive their purchases whenever they want and giving them the best customer service.”

In her interview, Lisa explained the key to providing this engaging experience: developing creative new ways for customers to engage with a brand.

 

Lisa provided some examples of companies that are doing this well, such as Boxpark

Boxpark is a company in the UK that sets up pop-up stores for clothing brands in a unique way — the stores are a network of shipping containers. 

BOXPARK

 

For retailers, this is a creative solution for giving the customer the best (and coolest) experience, according to Lisa.

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Ecommerce: Why going global really means going local

July 8th, 2014
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Global ecommerce is growing.

With that growth comes two insights:

One is satisfaction on my part in seeing fellow anthropologists land jobs at Microsoft and Absolut Vodka to aid in marketing research.

The other part of that growth is the realization among savvy ecommerce marketers that delivering a consistent brand experience in a multi-cultural global marketplace is not going to be easy.

I say this in light of the recent interview between MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko and Rob Garf, Vice President, Industry Strategy, Demandware, in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition.

Rob, who spoke at IRCE this year in Chicago, shared his thoughts on how preserving brand value and relevance across multiple cultures will be vital to delivering a consistent brand experience in new markets.

 

Brands looking to expand their reach into new cultures need to understand: It’s not about you; it’s about the locals.

“It comes down to really being entrenched in how consumers behave and how they want to interact with the brand,” Rob explained. “One key aspect is to have a local presence.”

If you want to see more interviews from ecommerce experts and in-the-trenches marketers, visit MarketingSherpa.com/IRCE.

Want to dig deeper into what’s working in ecommerce today? Download the MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study for insights gathered from 4,346 marketers on everything from what’s happening to the ecommerce landscape, to which strategies successful ecommerce companies are employing.

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Multichannel Marketing: 3 tips to help take your e-commerce global

June 6th, 2014
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Achieving e-commerce growth in a global marketplace is tough for any organization.

This is especially true when you consider the increasing complexity of global e-commerce coupled with the challenges of reaching new regional customer bases that are different than your existing customers.

These were some of the challenges facing Tom Davis, Global Head of E-commerce, Puma. In a recent MarketingSherpa webinar, he revealed how Puma used an omnichannel marketing approach to successfully position the company’s e-commerce initiative worldwide.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to identify where we fit in the marketplace,” Tom explained.

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we’ll take a look at three tips you can use to help take your e-commerce efforts global.

 

Tip #1. Love your customer data

successful-brands-data

 

According to Tom, diving into your data to discover how your business will operate (and potentially grow) in new regional markets is paramount.

“I think it’s imperative for brands, especially retail brands that may have a wholesale part of their business, to really embrace the data,” Tom said. 

 

Tip #2. Focus on delivering a mobile-first experience to stay ahead of the pack

mobile-growth-global

 

One interesting point Tom mentioned was how different regional markets are in different stages of smartphone tech adoption, which will, in turn, impact both online user experiences as the mobile migration continues and the organization’s market penetration strategy in different regions.

In sum, there are a lot of smartphone tech adoption opportunities yet to occur in markets outside of the U.S.

Tom also explained that the gray bars are last year’s mobile penetration (percent of unique mobile visitors) for Puma’s Web properties versus the blue bars, which were just for Q1 of 2014.

“You can see that in almost every market, our mobile penetration is growing,” Tom said.

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Content Marketing: How to manage a change in content on your blog

October 11th, 2013
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You’ll get no arguments from me that starting a new blog can be difficult.

There are plenty of great content marketing resources from MarketingSherpa and elsewhere to help you do that.

But, what happens when your company decides to undergo a change in content?

Navigating the waters of a new format on a well-established blog is a different kind of monster than starting from scratch.

 

Make sure everyone understands the big picture

If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of new faces on the MarketingSherpa blog.

Also, if you read the blogs of our sister brands MarketingExperiments and B2B Lead Roundtable, you will also find a lot of new contributors there as well.

When I asked Brandon Stamschror, Senior Director of Content Operations, MECLABS, about some of the elements driving the change in content, Brandon explained the new approach was a unique opportunity to return blogging to its roots.

“For us, it felt like it was time for our blogging voice to come full circle,” Brandon explained. “Blogging originated as the ultimate personal journal. It was a platform for practitioners who were passionate about their message being heard, but over time, that approach has evolved into a more sophisticated medium that has as much in common with a trade journal as it does with a personal journal.“

Another reason Brandon mentioned for the change was based on the idea that members of the MECLABS research team have a wide range of insights and practical advice to offer our audience.

“We realized that we are in a place to leverage the strengths of both approaches. Real world practitioner discoveries and observations supported by a consistent editorial standard,” Brandon said.

Instead of letting all of that content simply vanish, the era of the MECLABS practitioner blogger had arrived.

Consequently, this also meant the MECLABS research team would be taking on a new writing initiative, so the first real challenge was one of communication throughout the organization.

So, the first tip here is simple – communicate, communicate and communicate.

Make sure everyone in the organization understands the reasons for change and what their role in those changes will be, as your team can’t help build something they don’t fully understand.

 

Anticipate problems and start looking for solutions

This is my faith in Murphy’s Law – if anything can go wrong, it will – so the trick is to anticipate problems and find solutions to avoid headaches later.

For instance, while having a sizeable pool of new content creators was a great asset, there was one catch …

Most of our practitioners’ writing skills were based on formal training in academic writing.

Few had prior blogging experience, while only one to my knowledge had any experience in journalism or exposure to the editorial process.

Based on our assessment, here were some of the problems we anticipated:

  • Limited blogging experience – How do we help analysts to start writing blog posts?
  • Formal training in academic writing – How can the content team help practitioners develop blog writing skills?
  • Few have exposure to editorial process – How do we build a new editorial process that allows for more revision and editing time? How can we educate our internal thought leaders on the editorial process?

After a few rounds of discussion, our team decided a blog post template provided a simple solution to solve the problem of helping analysts get started writing blog posts.

 

The feedback we received from our in-house writers so far is the blog post template has been helpful in providing some rudimentary direction and structure to get started.

In short, the more problems like these that you can anticipate and find solutions for beforehand, the less painful your transition will hopefully be.

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Marketing Career: 5 tips for building a personal brand

October 16th, 2012
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The ladder of success no longer has certain rungs that must be met. Now, companies are placing a greater emphasis on company culture, and are looking for people who will fit into that.

In the days when large corporations were the trendsetters of the business world, you could get ahead by following a certain set of rules. As the recession knocked down some of these traditional companies from their former glory, a new way of doing business was highlighted.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple and a thousand others like them ditched the suits and turned casual Friday into a week-long institution. Ping pong tables (like the one here at MECLABS) replaced conference tables and office spaces began providing an environment that would encourage employees to “think different.”

Companies are looking beyond info from your resume, and wanting to get to know you. Zappos, for instance, has said that in their personality-focused hiring process, they ask themselves if the person being interviewed is someone they would want to get a beer with.

As personality and corporate culture become a bigger proponent of the hiring process, it may be time to make yourself known and stop hiding behind a generic black and white, 12-point Times New Roman font resume.

An increasing amount of companies want to see that you have unique, unconventional skills to bring to their team, instead of checking off a list of qualifications on your resume.

Establishing your personal brand online can be the most effective way to get – and keep – a company’s attention.

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