Image of a black stiletto and red panties, representing the prevalence of sex and celebrity influencer usage to sell

Kate Upton selling Carlos Jnr burgers.
Gwyneth Paltrow selling N.A.S.A unapproved healing stickers.
Kim Kardashian selling nude lipstick.
Spot the differences in endorsements.

Using celebrity and other high profile influencers to spread the word of a brand is becoming more and more potent in today’s marketing environment. This is largely down to the advent of social media and smart phones. In today’s marketing climate, an iPhone can be the most powerful PR tool a brand can utilise. The capability to reach millions of viewers via one app and one device has truly shifted how the modern marketing landscape operates. However, choosing the right celebrity or high profile influencer for the right brand is a make or break decision.

Matching Your Celebrity to Your Brand

A celebrity or high profile influencer needs to be treated like a distribution channel for the content of the brand. Similar to any other channel, the key to success is making sure the right content, is on the right channel. This being the case, not just any influencer will ‘fit’ when looking for a brand endorser. An example of the optimal situation when it comes to celebrity influencers is that of Kim Kardashian selling lipstick. Putting the brand of Kim Kardashian and a lipstick brand side by side;

  • The target audience is similar and overlapping;
  • The theme and message behind both brands, and the content or products each brand produces are similar;
  • The content, or product in this case is a match; and
  • How the influencer goes about endorsing the product, in this case via social media posts, is appropriate.

When all of the factors are combined, a successful endorsement is formed and a beneficial relationship begins.

Not Matching Your Celebrity to Your Brand

However, an issue arises when the product doesn’t match the celebrity or high profile influencer. A recent meta-analysis has investigated the effects of using sex to sell. The study found that using sex to sell only aids in building awareness of the product, rather than inspiring any meaningful action. The conclusion reached from this study can be viewed through the angle that using sex to sell implies that the only connection between the product and influencer is the sexual allure used to capture consumers’ attention. This leaves no room for the influencer to have an overlapping or meaningful connection to the brand.

Sex does not sell on its own, or aid in facilitating or influencing action in the audience, because the disconnect and lack of congruency between the two brands is too great. This being the case, the inference can be made much like with Kate Upton selling fast food, the danger of mismatching an endorsement may be an ineffective investment, that may work to build the brand awareness of the influencer rather than the product itself.

Image of Kate Upton selling Carlos Jnr burgers

Damaging Brands

This is the worst-case scenario for both the brand of the influencer and of the product. The real danger is, if either brand produces negative content or stimulates negativity regarding their own brand, damage to both brands may occur. Therefore, a great degree of care and research needs to be done before entering in such a relationship.

Example 1: Gwyneth Paltrow and her healing stickers. This product was so bad NASA even came out to denounce the stickers.

Example 2: Bentley attempting to distance themselves from Paris Hilton, which had become an unintended celebrity endorsement. In this case Bentley stated that in terms of brand vs brand, Bentley and Paris is not a match, and potentially having Paris Hilton publicly driving around in a pink Bentley is damaging to the brand.

Abercrombie and Fitch

A leaf may have to be taken out of Abercrombie and Fitch’s’ book when it comes to dealing with unintended, potentially negative celebrity endorsements. A&F go as far as to publicly ask celebrities not to use their branded products in ways deemed inappropriate.

In closing

Whatever action is taken by a brand relating to their influencers, or unintended influencers, the decision must not be taken lightly. Care and respect are paramount for two brands to enter into such a powerful relationship.

Image of a group of practitioners using social media across multiple devices in a strategy session, focussed on understanding the customers

“Retain the best and grow the rest” – Adam Posner (CEO of Directivity)

Loyalty programs have been in the marketing landscape for many years. It is rare to find a large brand that has frequent customer interactions that does not have a loyalty program. Looking to Coles and Woolworths, whose loyalty programs amass a huge fifteen million members, and talking to marketing specialists about what makes a successful program tick, one can begin to unpack the method behind designing a successful and valuable loyalty program.

Loyalty Programs are Good for Customers and Businesses

Loyalty programs are not just a take, take, take for customers of a brand. A well-oiled loyalty programs is more like a value exchange between the brand and its community base. The flow of value to the customer is in the form of rewards from the brand. The brand, of course, is rewarding the loyal community member for time spent, money spent, points accrued or all the above. However, very interestingly, the flow of value in return is split into a tangible and an intangible flow. Tangibly, the brand starts collecting mountains and mountains of important consumer data that can be sold. This data relates to intent to buy, helpful segmentation data, online behavioural data, personal details; all of which is highly valuable to the marketing industry as well as to the business itself. Intangibly, the relationship, loyalty and connection a brand can develop with its community by rewarding members for interacting the business is immeasurable. The reward program can help augment behavioural patterns in customers, build resonance and affect a real emotional connection with the brand.

The Keys to Success

Understanding what your loyal customers expect from your program is key to having a successful loyalty scheme. A Loyalty Point study in 2014, found that a primary reason a member is likely to leave a loyalty program is due to a lack in timeliness of being rewarded. Also finding new ways to engage your community is an excellent way to make your loyalty program a success. For instance, Myer One has an interactive app that allows users to download digital rewards and see their current level of points, thus, engaging their community base on multiple channels. Jamima White, Myer One’s general manager, also puts down the program’s success to simplicity and as few barriers to sign up as possible.

Screw Listening!

Qantas on the other hand did more harm than good to their loyalty program when they overhauled it in 2015. The issue Qantas was trying to solve was the elevated level of competition in the airline market. Geoffrey Thomas told Fairfax media:

“Two to three years ago, Qantas didn’t have any competition in business class of full service economy, but they now face very real competition from Virgin Australia. Today, many people are members of both Qantas and Virgin Australia loyalty programs, and they can make choices to swing one way or the other if one is annoying them. Passengers don’t think of it as points; they think of it as dollars. Let’s not beat around the bush, brands need to retain their customers more than ever before. One way to get them to stay is a loyalty program. But f**king it up by upsetting members, going in too hard and fast, or being fiddly with rewards could break that established trust.”

Co-Created Content is the Future

With over 88% of Australian consumers now a part of a loyalty program in some form or another, more and more businesses are getting behind the idea. In today’s modern marketing environment, more value can be exchanged and co-created content can flow because of well run, trusted and successful loyalty programs, much like the Coles, Myer and Woolworths examples.

Image of a futuristic human cyborg robot - half human, half robot. This image represents the change that phones and technology have on user experiences increasingly.

‘Get off your bloody phone!!’ – said every parent ever.

The argument that resonates around countless Australian households. Parents yelling at their kids to go play outside and get away from their screens. Why? What year are they living in? The 80’s? The fact of the matter is, the way in which human beings interact and engage with the world around them has changed. The world has changed. In five years from now, is it reasonable to think that a native multi-device driven society will be less engaged online? No, so let’s look at Australia’s ‘micro-moments’ and how they interact with the world through their phones.

Time to Value

Image of a Google search page loaded on a phone, emphasising the ease in which users can quickly obtain answers to their questions, without having to seek or wait for answers from others.A lot of people will tell you time is money. This is short sighted, what on earth does ‘time is money’ mean? Instead, replace money with value. The key to the future of capturing customers’ hearts and minds is through the concept that society’s new currency is time to value, rather than time is money. This means, the shorter the customer journey is, with the least number of barriers to content that delivers value, is the future. This was evident in a recent ZeroDesktop Mobile Analytics study, showing users return to Google (app and Chrome), on average, 12 times per day. It also found 81% of Australians say their smart phone searches are more focused on immediate information; 80% of Australian’s say they now access the internet more frequently but for shorter bursts. Australian’s are intrinsically connected to their phones via ‘moments.’ A phone is just an extension of a user’s consciousness, with a smartphone also there when ‘I want to; go, know, do or buy moment’ enters a consumers thoughts.

Go Moments

Go moments are the experiences where a customer is wanting to find out where something is. GPS systems have been displaced with 86% of smart phone users utilising their phone as a navigation tool. Further down the list, choosing where to eat, travel tips and making hotel and rental car bookings are also key smart phone functions.

Know Moments

Know moments are the experiences when a customer has a burning question that needs answering. No longer does a smart phone user require a trip to the local library or to phone a friend. Just “Google it”. Smart phone users employ Google to get answers fast. The moment a thought pops into their head, 68% of them are visiting Google to ask the question. Smart phones also help with trying to complete foreign tasks, stalk their friend’s social lives and supplement their television platform by showing them the programming.

Do Moments

Do moments are the experiences when a customer is trying to get things done. Gone are the days of calling your mother to help you cook dinner, smart phones have the answer. How-to guides are all the rage these days online, and for good reason. 87% of women between the ages of 18 to 24 use their smart phone for ‘how-to’ content for make-up, fashion and beauty.

Buy Moments

Buy moments are the experiences when a customer makes a purchase decision. This moment is potentially the most pivotal watershed moment in a customer’s interaction with a brand. The number of consumers that use a smart phone as part of their path to purchase is as high as you would expect. Studies have found 87% of smart phone users said the information they found via their smart phone helped them make a purchase, with 68% of users looked up items whilst they were in store. Some even saying they trusted the online sources over the sales staff.

So, the next time your mother tells you to get off your smart phone, kindly respond by letting her know that smart phones and being online is here to stay and is an integral part of day-to-day life in our modern era. Embrace it, don’t hate it.

Below is a link to further reading on ‘micro-moments’:

Micro-Moments: The New Battleground for Brands

Image of a customer relationship management (CRM) journey, moving from marketing to reporting, to analysis, to strategy, to executing, to ultimate success.

The importance of capturing the value of a brand’s customer base has long been understood. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and data collection for customer relationship purposes is a growing industry. The relationship between a brand and its customer base is the single most valuable relationship a business can leverage. Treating your customers as a valuable resource, as opposed to merely a brand consumer is important, and having the tools and knowledge in place to take advantage of this resource is key.

CRM Adds Value to Business and Brands Customer Experience

“Customer relationships start with a good understanding-standing, traditionally supported by primary research, and nowadays by far more reliable data on what folks actually do rather than say. Applying that understanding across product design, pricing, distribution and promotional mix leads to greater stickiness and value.” Tony Davis, Director at Quantium

The ability for companies now to be able to collect gigabytes of data on user interaction with their brand across all channels, has led to brands being able to forge an even more valuable relationship between brand and customer. From a customer’s perspective, they demand a highly personalised brand interaction. Having a good customer relationship forged via a good CRM system allows companies to know what a customer wants from the brand, before the customer even realises it themselves. This is achieved through the collection and understanding of how a brand’s customers behave, rather than the traditionalist focus on what they say. For instance, a brand can determine expectations in type, duration or platform that customers have in interaction with video content. From a brand’s perspective, they can now tailor user experiences to their customers. By being able to do this, brands can then provide a more valuable customer experience that leads to more brand resonance, and a more successful business.

The Future of CRM in the Modern Marketing Climate

The advent of social media and mobile technology is allowing for constant data collection, based on consumer behaviour rather than traditional categories of demographic, geographic or psychographic. Companies can now view the behavioural patterns of their customers. This has led to the ability for companies to segment customer via their behaviour, and tailor personalised content to those segments for optimal outcomes. In today’s modern marketing era, CRM is moving away from its association to the sales side of a business function, towards a touchpoint that is central to the customer experience story. As 1984-esque as it may be, it is now a reasonable thing to expect, a company to have a clear view and understanding of its customer interactions.

Challengers for CRM

“Brand and service owners need to be able to cope with the evolving and increasing consumer expectations.” Marek Rucinski, Managing Director at Accenture

As Marek Rucinski discusses, the challenge now facing companies in the field of CRM, is the ability to cope with the dynamic and fickle nature of customer wants and needs; as well as their capacity to deal with the immense data flow from customers who are savvy, multi-device digital users. According to Atul Tuli – APAC Senior Director, customers are more dynamic than ever:

“They’re constantly adapting to new experiences that quickly alter their perceptions of brands. As a result, customers journeys are now subjected to interruptions, diversions, impulses and delays. Moreover, when considering a purchase, consumers prefer to ‘pull’ information rather than have a product or service information ‘pushed’ to them.”

Steps to Success

Tuli suggest that for companies to succeed in the future at CRM, they need to:

  • In real time, identify a shift in customer values and address them to build a positive customer relationship;
  • Identify and take advantage of market trends as they develop, not after; and
  • Begin to predict customer’s long term needs and wants and use that data to tailor a personalised, relationship building communication over the appropriate communication channels.

Companies now are striving to reach a new level of providing customers with a personalised customer experience with new worldly responsiveness to change. CRM is far from an outdated sales functional means and is the foundation for the next stage of marketing to a demanding set of 21st century consumers. Thank you CRM!

Image of a rural road with the words 'the end', representing the proliferation to the new medium of online video content

The right content.
The right channel.
The right time.

Content is king in today’s marketing environment. Content distribution and connecting with the right audience is now a major focus when it comes to the online advertising space. This idea is reflected in the industry’s shift from repurposing television advertising content for online purposes, towards a complete brand integration of content for online audiences. This concept was discussed by Emma Mackenzie in a recent article in a B&T publication. However, why did this shift occur?

Online platforms determine who your audience is and content expectations

Different audiences live on different platforms. Expectations of what content audiences demand per platform also change. For instance, an ad that features on a traditional television format will be viewed in a different way, especially with the advent of the multiple screen generation, in comparison to a Facebook ad, or a YouTube ad.

Viewer attention span on various social media formats have significantly lowered, with most research showing that brands have on average around seven to ten seconds to grab the attention of its audience. Whereas, how these adverts are consumed on non-traditional channels is also a factor. Traditional television is largely consumed in a living room. In contrast, online media can be consumed almost anywhere – in the bedroom, whilst commuting, on breaks and even in the bathroom are all high ranking.

Effectiveness of purpose of traditional television ads versus online ads

These days it is difficult to garner any sort of meaningful relationship with your audience on a traditional platform like television. The new media is an alternative to the rigid structure of time slots and the ritual waiting for an entire week to satiate your curiosity, within traditional medias. This is taking away from the channels ability to engage and captivate a viewer’s attention.

Unless your target audience are retired, or you have ungodly amount of money to burn, the efficacy of using television ads alone to communicate your brand message is absurd. In contrast, online ads can be targeted, timed, interactive, and designed to be engaging to a much greater degree.

Online ads can reach highly targeted audiences as they go about their day-to-day habituations online. A person is browsing YouTube, and what a coincidence, here is an ad that directly relates to the content you are viewing. Not only that, but a clear call to action is just one click away. Browsing Facebook, wow, here is a short, attention grabbing ad that relates to the content you are already scrolling through and interacting with.

A brand’s power to reach its audience through these online platforms is huge, and therefore, the content that is created for these channels need to be differentiated and respected.

Evidence of this shift

The shift towards these non-traditional, online media sources is rapidly taking pace, and can be viewed through two lenses. Firstly, from the lens of audiences and content consumers themselves. Online content viewing is trending compared to traditional television viewing. Broken down demographically, the trend is exponential. As the audience becomes younger, the trend towards online media become steeper and steeper. As such, online is now the preferred source of media for most content consumers. Secondly, this trend can be viewed through the lens of advertisers and brands themselves. The growth of the online shift can be seen through the trend of advertising expenditure, which is growing at a much faster rate than television advertising expenditure.

Conclusion

In the future, expect more tailored and integrated online video content from your favourite brands. Online advertising is pivotal for brands in today’s marketing environment, as it gives even the smallest brand the greatest ever power to reach their audiences online. As John Filippis from MediaMath’s states:

“Video is powerful tool for increasing brand awareness and tells a meaningful, multi-sensory story that resonated deeply with consumers. It also operates successfully as part of an integrated campaign, combing digital channels such as displays, social media and mobile to create a seamless brand message – which is critical for marketers looking to maximise their presence across all media channels.”

 

Additional sources for further research:

John DeFilippis articles
Sensis Social Media Report 2017
The State of Traditional TV

The landscape of brand advocacy has changed. Gone are the days where providing shoppers with a positive customer experience (in the physical world) is enough to capture their advocacy.

The new challenge for brands is creating and fostering customer relationships, and it is being fought across all platforms, physical and otherwise. Customers now expect valuable brand content to exist online and on social media so they can connect with the brand at will.

The paradigm has shifted and now brands must generate an organic, co-created and symbiotic relationship with their customers. This is the new frontier that will allow brands to protect themselves, grow and improve their bottom line. This has resulted in traditional forms of advertising and the paying for advertising content to be pushed towards customer bases, becoming one of the most dangerous games a brand can continue to play.

The Customer Experience (Cx) Challenge

The challenge – that is ignored by some brands – is to build marketing programs that extend through the three major platforms in which customers interact. These platforms include 1) the physical world around customers; 2) the online world martialed by powerful search engine algorithms; and 3) the social media platform.

Each of these three platforms has their own audiences, preferences of content and ways of optimising how content is distributed to customers. These platforms are inhabited in some ways by almost every Australian, with 94% of us being on social media and 98% having some form of regular internet access. It is clear that not appreciating these platforms is a great financial risk to a business.

The key to success in marketing a brand is to create valuable ideas that work, interact and transverse these three platforms – otherwise known as an integrated marketing approach.

The Symbiotic Relationship Between These Platforms

Understanding how these three platforms interact with each other will lead to an increase in sales, more customer interaction on- and offline and increased revenue, just to name a few. A look towards consumer behaviour and understanding your customers’ journey across these platforms is key.

For instance, 71% of consumers feel more comfortable buying a product after interacting with user-generated content (3dcart, 2017). User-generated content is co-created content developed by consumers for a brand. For example, a customer may have a positive customer experience with a brand in a physical store, and then go online to provide a review for that brand. The customer then may go on Instagram, take a photo of how happy they are with a brand’s product, which equates to the creation of more user-generated content. So, in one interaction, content for a brand has been interacted with and created on three platforms.

An Example for Your Business

A new product launch is a good example of how an integrated marketing approach will lead to greater success.

One option for promotion of a product launch would be to throw money into generic Facebook adverts, with a photo and a logo, to be seen time and time again. This is standard practice for many businesses. However, the creation of a promotion that rewards value input from customers and encourages customers to engage and co-author content on multiple platforms, will help facilitate a successful brand launch.

A simple example would be a new store opening. In-store, the business would prompt, via a discount, for the customers to take a photo with the product and post it to their social media with the brand tagged. After a positive brand interaction, the business would also have a prompt on the product, on their social media or even via team member in-store, asking the customer to leave a Google review about the product. The business would then run a Facebook advertising campaign in conjunction with this simple promotion. The Facebook adverts are more effective with this approach, because the page will already contain co-created content produced by customers, which gives consumers a heightened sense of trust in the brand.

The interaction between the physical customer experience, the online space and online social network space will facilitate a greater sense of brand advocacy as all three platforms provide value to the consumer. An integrated marketing approach is the most efficient and effective approach a brand can take in adding value to their business.