gratitude and compassion.
gratitude and compassion.
“My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph.” – Richard Avedon
Top 5 Digital Marketing Insights
The 1968 classic film Powers of Ten directed by Charles and Ray Eames depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten. Every ten seconds we view the starting point from ten times farther out until the galaxy appears as a speck of light, following this, the camera moves inward, with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Not only is the cinematography beautiful and technically brilliant, the film offers valuable insight that can be applied to all aspects of our life and society.
How is this film relevant you ask?
As Tim Brown notes, “it is a wonderful reminder of one of the most important principles in design – reframing the question.” In the digital age, the need for marketers to be creative is more important than ever. We live in an era where consumers are constantly bombarded by advertising messages and marketers from every direction are vying for consumers’ attention. To exacerbate the issue, our attention span has been reduced to a mere 9 seconds. Given this cultural landscape, in order to attract the attention of consumers, you must be doing something different as a marketer, something unique that sets you apart from your competitors. This requires a high degree of creativity. According to the principles of “Design Thinking” by Tim Brown, creativity needs to be stimulated. Creativity does not happen in a vacuum; rather, creativity is born from a process, which involves reframing the issue at hand in several different ways. The film reaffirms this ideology. As Tim Brown eloquently notes in response to the film: “Often the quickest route to new insight is to take a step back and look at the problem from a broader context, or to take a step closer and look at it in more detail.” If you want a creative solution to an issue, this requires readjusting your perspective by either taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture or zooming in and understanding the obscure details. For example, as big data continues to transform the digital marketing landscape, marketers need to be able to zoom in and out, digging deep in to the data to extract meaning from it, and taking a step back to see how the data fits into the bigger picture.
According to David Meerman Scott, “you need to know that success requires a far different approach than what you’re likely doing now. Many of the easy techniques for triggering a World Wive Rave are the exact opposite of what you’ve learned on the job or have been taught in school”. The insight presented in the Powers of Ten reinforces this view. In order to create a World Wide Rave, marketers should go against the grain and embrace “thinking outside the box”. Marketers do not need to adhere to the norms and status quo. To stand out in the crowd, you don’t need to mimic your competitors; you should be doing something entirely different to get people talking. Moreover, to excel in the midst of tough competition, there is great value in embracing an alternate perspective and zooming in to really understand the psyche of consumers. Contrary to popular belief, marketers should think like consumers. In addition to focusing on detail, marketers should also take a step back to understand how everything fits into place. Effective marketers don’t focus purely on the product itself; effective marketers understand how their products fit into the bigger picture. I believe great marketing involves selling a lifestyle and emotions rather than just a product in isolation. Consider Harley Davidson for example. They have an extremely loyal customer base, so much so that people tattoo the brand’s logo onto their bodies. The major reason for their success is the way in which they have built an entire community, culture and lifestyle around their brand. Through their Harley Davidson merchandise, online communities, and clubs, Harley Davidson has built a strong culture and community for its consumers. For many, owning a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It enables them to own a piece of history and grants them access to belonging to an elite click. Harley-Davidson is not just a motorcycle; it is a way of life.
The underlying message of this film can also be applied to my life as a student. As a Masters student of Marketing, part time Intern and freelance photographer, I often feel overwhelmed by stress because I place too much pressure on myself to pursue perfection in all aspects of my life. However, as Sheryl Sandberg notes: “done is better than perfect”. My preoccupation with perfection, whether it be crafting the perfect sentence or making sure my powerpoint looks flawless, ultimately undermines my efficiency and predisposes me to feel unnecessary stress. As David Burns eloquently said: “the pursuit of perfection is arguably the surest way to undermine happiness and productivity”. I tend to focus on and fret over trivial details that in the big scheme of things, don’t matter too much. It is useful to apply the lessons learnt in the film, there is great value in taking a step back once in a while. For example, in a year’s time, my GPA will be irrelevant, and most probably forgotten. Achieving good grades is undoubtedly important but ultimately, education is not defined by good grades – it’s about learning, proactive thinking and questioning.
Thus, the film provides a valuable framework for thinking that can be aptly applied to all aspects of our life and society. Whether it be marketing or our personal life, it is important to remember that everything is relative and there are many ways to frame an issue. Moreover, it is important that we adjust our perspective from time to time; lets take a step back to understand the bigger picture and take a step forward to understand those obscure details that are often overlooked.
In the digital age, new issues arise almost as fast as technology develops. The advent of the Internet has irrevocably altered the way in which people consume media and the news. The newspaper industry in particular has been severely affected, with newspaper companies struggling to find a revenue model that is sustainable and profitable in the long run.
In response to the shifting media landscape, a popular digital tactic employed by news companies is the pay wall strategy. I believe that pay walls, especially “soft pay walls” which allows free access to select content whilst keeping premium content behind a pay wall (as opposed to no access to content without subscription) are effective strategies for the following reasons:
However, despite the advantages of the pay wall system, there is no denying that the pay wall issue is highly complex; there are several issues to consider and tackle with this digital strategy.
Issues to consider
The Times’s model
The New York Times’ latest pay wall scheme has been the subject of hot debate in recent years – earning its fair share of supporters and critics. Despite the criticism it received 2 years ago, its recent financial results have been in favor of their revenue model and many news conglomerates are following its lead. According to media analyst Ken Doctor, today, 41% of the nation’s dailies are doing so or are planning to.
The Times’s pay wall model is flexible; accommodating users who come in from traffic generators like social networks and search engines. For example, readers who came in through Google were subject to a 5 article per day limit in addition to the 20 monthly allotted ones, whereas those who visited from social media sites faced no limits, as long as articles were linked directly from those sources. This way, The Times is able to generate additional revenue while promoting the social buzz generated by its article.
Since charging online viewers of its content in March 2011, it now makes more money from readers than advertisers. Digital subscriptions brought in $37.7 million in the 3rd quarter, while digital ads brought just $32.9 million. In other words, it gets 53¢ from readers for every 47¢ it gets from marketers. That ratio used to be closer to 80-20 in favor of advertising. Moreover, The Times’ pay wall hit 727,000 subscribers in the quarter, up from 28,000 in 3 months. However, whilst I think the Times’ model is profitable and viable in the short term, this model is not sustainable in the long run.
Jeff Bezos and the future of the news industry
In the wake of a floundering industry, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in August 2013 and left the world stunned. I believe Bezos bought the Washington Post because as the innovator he is, he plans to revolutionize the way people consume news and alter the way in which news companies make money in the digital space. Bezos’ reputation for innovation with Amazon has been a revolutionary game changer in the publishing and retail business, he wants to be the catalyst for change in the news industry. Bezos was quoted “we will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment.” He will encourage experimentation without regard for short-term profits and losses. In an interview last year with German newspaper Berliner Zeitung, he said he thinks that print newspapers will cease to exist within 2 decades. His overarching goal will be to create a thriving new media species on the digital frontier and find a revenue model that is sustainable for news companies in the digital space.
Beyond the news industry
In addition to the news industry, magazines have also begun to experiment, adopting variations of pay walls. For example, In July, Esquire put a $1.99 paywall around a nearly 10,000-word investigative story, “The Prophet” by Luke Dittrich. David Granger, Esquire’s editor in chief, explained that the story took months to produce — journalism doesn’t come cheap. Sports Illustrated also began testing a variety of pay wall this summer, but one that didn’t ask readers to pay directly. Instead, it granted online readers access to certain print stories — ones typically not available to non-subscribers until an issue is off the newsstand, like cover stories — in exchange for watching a video ad of their choice.
The future of revenue models in the digital space
The rise of the Internet has brought on new opportunities and challenges for the newspaper industry. Pay walls are rapidly changing journalism, with an impact on its practice and business model, and on freedom of information on the Internet. Although the pay wall strategy is profitable in the short term, the digital landscape will continue to change and the pay wall strategy is by no means the one and only solution to the revenue model conundrum in the digital space. Moving forward, the pay wall strategy alone is not enough to save “old media” models. The issue still persists; media owners need to be paid for their premium content while users want access to quality content for free. As such, the industry needs to come up with a more effective solution beyond pay walls. Although the exact solution to this revenue model conundrum is unclear, something tells me that Jeff Bezos will be the vanguard of this change, revolutionizing the way in which news companies generate profit in the digital age.
In the 21st century, brands must be agile and dynamic because we live in a fleeting age where public discourse is dynamic, trends are constantly changing and news travels faster than ever before. In light of these cultural changes, the landscape of marketing is shifting and techniques such as real-time marketing are increasing in popularity. Real-time marketing refers to marketing performed “on-the-fly” to determine an appropriate or optimal approach to a particular customer at a particular time and place. Newsjacking is a specific form of real-time marketing, which is becoming in vogue amongst marketers. Newsjacking, which is a term coined by David Meerman Scott, refers to the process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news. It is a means through which you can generate media coverage for your business and attract the attention of large audiences by leveraging on breaking news and injecting your ideas into the marketplace. This technique allows you to bring a unique spin to a topic that is on the top of many people’s minds. Moreover by newsjacking, you are casting out a net instead of a hook, which, can result in far more eyeballs.
Although newsjacking can be beneficial to a brand when done right, this marketing tactic must be approached with a degree of tact and sensitivity. Epicurious is a brand that garnered attention and earned media by newsjacking. However, they received attention for all the wrong reasons.
In April 2013, Epicurious used the Boston bombings to shamelessly promote their food products with a tweet, “In honor of Boston and New England, may we suggest whole grain cranberry scones.” This came across as insensitive to followers causing a major backlash to the brand. Although the tweets were eventually removed and Epicurious apologized for their actions, the impact of their mistake and insensitivity is enduring.
In their attempt to capitalize off tragedy, they compromised their code of ethics, undermined their integrity and upset and offended their customers in doing so. In order to avoid making this mistake, marketers should bear in mind 2 things before jumping on the Newsjacking bandwagon:
1. Be Sensitive: Marketers should be sensitive, respectful and know that tragedies should not be capitalized for shameless promotion.
2. Relevance is Key: When considering newsjacking, be sure that you can relate the piece of news to your brand in a way that makes sense. Newsjacking a news story that is irrelevant to your brand for the sole purpose of attracting media attention is neither strategic nor smart. After all, 1000 untargeted visitors to your blog are far less valuable than 100 highly targeted visitors.
So marketers, before you think about tweeting something witty and giving yourself the real-time marketing high five, always remember your reputation, before publication. Although Newsjacking can be a clever and creative marketing ploy that guarantees eyeballs and garners attention, if done wrong, it can end up doing more harm to your brand than good.
In the digital age, consumers feel overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of advertising messages by marketers who are relentlessly vying for their attention. In order for marketers to captivate the attention of consumers, simplicity is key. Simplicity not only in terms of the delivery of a marketing message, but when it comes to purchasing, marketers should simplify their decision-making process. Although simplicity is indeed important in captivating a consumer’s attention and securing a transaction, I believe that simplicity alone is not enough. Ultimately, companies that invest and make a concerted effort in developing authentic relationships with consumers will enjoy long-term loyalty.
Keep it simple, stupid
Due to the over excess of information and our hyper connectivity, our attention spans are now shorter than ever before – a mere 9 seconds.
Our short attention span scans through a barrage of information to land on what is most relevant to us personally. Although consumers can access marketing messages 24/7, their hyper connectivity leaves them in a state of perpetual partial attention. As such, when crafting messages, marketers should be focused on making their point – fast! Not only do marketers need to keep their marketing messages simple and concise, according to the article “To keep your customers, keep it simple” by Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman, marketers should focus their effort on simplifying the decision making process for consumers. According to their study, the best tool for measuring consumer-engagement efforts is the “decision simplicity index”, an indication of how easy it is for consumers to gather and understand information about a brand, how much they can trust the information they find, and how readily they can weight their options. As such, the easier a brand makes the purchase decision journey, the higher its decision-simplicity score. Brands that scored in the top quarter in their study were 86% more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumer considering them. According to Spenner and Freeman, the most effective marketers use 3 tactics:
1) They minimize the number of information sources consumers must touch as they move toward a purchase
2) Provide trustworthy sources of product information and recommendations
3) Offer tools that enable consumers to weigh their options by identifying the features in terms of relevancy
Whilst I agree with Spenner and Freeman that simplicity is key in the age of hyper connectivity, I do not agree with their stance that marketers should solely focus their attention on simplifying the decision making process for consumers and disregard building relationships with consumers. Striving for simplicity and building a relationship with a consumer is not mutually exclusive, both efforts should coexist.
Develop relationships and engage consumers
In addition to striving for simplicity, marketers should also focus their attention on developing authentic relationships and engaging with consumers. In the article, Spenner and Freeman shed light on the fact that contrary to marketer’s perceptions, being part of a community ranked the lowest (22%) on the list of reasons why consumers interact with companies via social sites. Whilst the study reveals that marketers may misjudge the most important factors that influence why consumers follow them via social sites, this is not enough to suggest that marketers should discount focusing on building relationships and communities altogether. 22% is still a significant amount of people who value being part of a brand’s community. As the 80/20 rule suggests, your top 20% loyal customers contribute to 80% of the profits. Focusing on the needs and wants of your top 20% of customers will ensue in healthy profits.
Keep it short & sweet
The article also falsely suggests that pursuing a relationship and engaging customers equates to constant messaging and providing an overabundance of information. The writers frame the pursuit of simplicity and developing relationships with customers as ideologically incompatible. This is simply not the case. Such concepts should be in synchrony and ought to be pursued simultaneously. With regards to engaging consumers, the surest way to engage is by being succinct and to the point. Red Bull is a brand that has mastered the art of engagement by embracing simplicity. The company’s online writing style is characterized by being succinct and short & sweet. Facebook posts feature captions such as: “No better time than right now”, “flipping spectacular” and “This weekend, get board.” The series of short, catchy posts, captivate the attention of Red Bull fans and engage them. Due to their keep-it-simple-stupid school of wordsmithing, their Facebook page has reached 40,995,178 likes.
Empower consumers to get involved
People have an inherent desire to feel valued and important, which is why, providing ways for consumers to get involved and engage is important. Social media contests in particular have gained in popularity and can be a powerful catalyst for spreading a brand’s message. When Frito-Lay developed a new potato chip flavor, they bypassed focus groups and turned to Facebook to directly engage with the customers. Visitors of the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” Facebook app were asked to suggest new flavors. In February of this year, the 3 finalist flavors were available in stores for people to buy and try. There were approximately 3.8 million consumer-generated flavor submissions. The staggering figure indicates that if you empower consumers and grant them with the opportunity to get involved in the brand, they will respond.
Strive for simplicity and engagement
In the age of hyper connectivity, the bombardment of marketing messages, excess of information and choice ultimately impairs the consumer decision-making process. Under this climate, it is particularly important for marketers to focus on simplicity; in terms of the delivery of a marketing message as well as simplifying the decision making process for consumers. However, simplicity can only get you so far. In order to secure customer loyalty and differentiate yourself from competitors, the key is to engage consumers – not by bombarding them with messages every few seconds, but rather by listening to them, empowering them to have their say and keeping communication short, sweet, and to the point.
In a world that is becoming progressively digital, the term “big data” is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. In 2001, industry analyst Doug Laney articulated the widely accepted definition of big data as the 3 V’s: Velocity, Variety and Volume. Velocity refers to the unprecedented speed at which data is streamed, variety relates to the way in which data today comes in a range of formats and volume alludes to the sheer volume of incoming data online.
Indeed big data is so “big”, marketers simply can’t afford to ignore it. Big data is transforming our world and revolutionizing the landscape of marketing in the process. Big data presents both invaluable opportunities and advantages for marketers as well as obstacles. According to a study conducted by eMarketer, 61% of those surveyed claimed that big data is both an opportunity and an obstacle, and for many there is still a long way to go when it comes to harnessing big data and using it in the decision making process
Lets start with the benefits and opportunities of big data.
Big data offers invaluable customer insight which informs marketing decisions
Big data is rich with customer insight, providing marketers with a greater understanding and intuition for their customers. For example, Netflix, which boasts 33 million worldwide, looks at 30 million “plays” a day, 4 million ratings by subscribers, 3 million searches as well as the time of day when shows are watched and on what devices. As a result of this wealth of data, Netflix knows what shows people like to watch and that helps them predict and determine interest for a given show.
Moreover, the success story of the Netflix original “House of Cards” captures and embodies the sheer importance and effectiveness of how big data can be used to provide customer insight to predict consumer behavior. Through its database, Netflix already knew that Director David Fincher’s films were popular amongst subscribers. Moreover, films featuring actor Kevin Spacey had always performed well, as had the British version of “House of Cards.” Given this insight, Netflix was able to determine a Venn diagram intersection that inferred that buying the series would be a guaranteed success.
Image Source: The New York Times
Uses historic data to predict future interactions
Big data enables variable testing which helps predict what works, and what doesn’t. For example, multi-channel big data enables companies to predict what the impact of changing their traditional media spend will have on their digital business. Big data allows Marketers to predict what effect one less TV ad would have on online sales. Netflix is a company that is constantly testing. They regularly select a group of customers, typically by the tens of thousands, and use them as guinea pigs to determine what works, and what doesn’t.
Increases effectiveness of retargeting campaigns
Big data allows marketers to track online consumer behavior for retargeting purposes. In other words, big data enables marketers to serve ads specifically tailored to consumers based on their online behavior, whether it click-through or purchase activity. Moreover, the variety of user data available helps brands create micro segments and devise individual retargeting strategies accordingly. As such, brands are able to adapt their investment strategies for each segment and maximize their marketing ROI.
Despite the many opportunities that are presented with big data, it still has its limitations.
Big data doesn’t tell you what to do
According to the CEO of SumAll, “Data is very good at validating past activity or opening up new ideas,” however, “it won’t tell you where to go.” Many marketers assume they can just collect data and that it will inform what they are going to do. In reality, marketers still need to rely on people to interpret the big data and make the critical marketing decisions.
Lost in translation
In order to unleash the power of big data, one must first harness the data. Integrating large amounts of data from a variety of sources is no easy task. However, figuring out exactly how to translate and convert that information into more visits and fuller shopping carts – in real-time, customer-by-customer is even more difficult.
Issue of privacy
A discussion on big data is not complete without mention of the issue of privacy (or lack thereof). The case of how Target disclosed a teen girl’s pregnancy to her father shows how far retailers will go to search for more customer information and how consumers are being stripped of their privacy.
Big data offers companies and marketers an intimate glimpse into our personal lives, they know more about us than ever before. Marketers need to be sensitive to the privacy issue and acknowledge the fact that this is a real concern for customers. When it comes to retargeting, advertisers should delay ads so that retargeting isn’t so obvious. Marketers should master the art of subtlety when it comes to big data because failure to do so just might scare customers away.
Beyond big data
Whilst it is indeed true that big data presents countless opportunities and benefits for marketers, l believe we should not solely rely on big data and disregard human qualities such as intuition and instinct when it comes to marketing decisions.
Although I can’t deny the sheer value that big data offers for marketers, I believe data can never replace human insight, creativity and emotion. Humans are complex creatures. We are emotional, intuitive and we are not as logical as we like to think. Sometimes we don’t even know what we want. In the words of John Landgraf, the president and GM of FX networks, “Data can only tell you what people have liked before, not what they don’t know they are going to like in the future,” he said. According to Landgraf, a good programmer’s job is to find “the white spaces in our collective psyche that aren’t filled by an existing television show”. Such choices were made in a “black box” that “data can never penetrate”.
To succeed in the information age, I believe marketers should let the machines do the work where possible. The beauty of big data lies in its ability to enable marketers to build customer experiences and products that are based on hard data and evidence, instead of hunches and guesses. However, in order to truly take advantage of big data, we need to invest in (real) people too.
As we move forward into the digital age and as big data continues to play a greater role in marketing, we should not lose sight of the importance of human insight and instinct. Although society as a whole is becoming increasingly technologically savvy, lets not forget that, we are human, after all.
Image Source: www.deviantart.com
In the digital age, User Experience Design is playing an increasingly prominent role in the art of branding. As activity in the digital and social space is growing at an unprecedented pace, brands must learn to adapt to the growth in digital activity. Brands should no longer only focus on the in-store experience, but the online experience too.
Red Mango, the popular smoothies and frozen yogurt chain, is a brand that has recognized and embraced the value of creating a great user experience for customers. The user experience across their website and mobile platforms is characterized by simplicity, ease of use, and usefulness. By evaluating the UX of Red Mango across digital platforms, I’ll shed light on what works and what doesn’t.
When it comes to UX, there are a few points to consider…
1. Keep it simple stupid (K.I.S.S)
The Red Mango website embraces a sleek and simple design that is pleasant to the eye, whilst being functional and practical.
In terms of aesthetics across digital devices, the color palette of red, white and green remains consistent. Although images of their special offer items such as their smoothies and mint cookie differ in aesthetics such as color and font, the rest remains consistent. This level of consistency across aesthetics reinforces their brand identity. Moreover, the choice of fonts and color palette reflects the brand personality. Red Mango positions itself as healthy, fresh, reliable and an emblem of consistent quality. The aesthetics reflect these qualities.
As for practical value, the functions are clearly and neatly displayed to the left, top and bottom of the website, leaving sufficient empty space. As the website is not cluttered and chaotic, the overall experience of navigating through the website is pleasant and desirable.
As a brand, we must be constantly thinking: “how can I make my consumer’s life easier?”. As our culture is becoming increasingly saturated and noisy, customers appreciate user-friendly products that embrace simplicity and provide value for customers, whilst being aesthetically appealing.
2. Be quick to capture and maintain our attention
The Red Mango website is responsive and loading time is quick.
We live in a culture and age that expects instant gratification. According to Sally Hogshead, our attention spans have declined to a mere 9 seconds so as consumers, we expect information fast. As such, the user experience should be responsive and allow the consumer to find what they want, fast.
3. Customize content accordingly
The content provided by Red Mango across digital platforms are specifically customized and tailored accordingly.
Whilst their website is comprehensive and highly informative, providing information on their brand story, displaying infographics and video content etc., their mobile app customizes information according to store location and is overall more simplistic in content and design. Upon launching the app, users must select their Red Mango store. Once the location has been selected, information is kept to a minimum. Only information that would be most relevant and useful to a customer using a mobile device on the go is displayed. For example the address, opening hours and directions on how to get there are shown, whilst other information such as ‘our story’ and ‘careers’ that would be shown on the website, is omitted. Moreover, the app is also perfectly integrated with their rewards system, offering a “check-in to earn points” function based on its geo-targeted capabilities.
4. Be Social
At the bottom of the website, Red Mango displays their social media icons proudly.
In an increasingly social world, brands should always integrate their social media channels on their website. The more ways the customer can connect with your brand, the longer you’ll keep them engaged and connected.
5. Don’t be intrusive
The moment visitors enter the Red Mango USA website, they are welcomed (against their own will) by a pop-up video titled “What is Red Mango?”.
Interruptive marketing tactics such as pop-up videos are (for lack of a better word) annoying and unwanted. Marketers should always think like consumers. They should put themselves in the customers’ shoes and imagine how the customer is experiencing the brand.
As much as you want your customers to view your branded content and no matter how awesome you think the content is, being intrusive comes at the price of compromising the user experience. Consumers want to be in control, intrusive marketing tactics are unpleasant, unwelcome and such techniques undermine the customer’s sense of autonomy.
Thus, whilst Red Mango has created an effective and engaging UX across digital platforms for their customers overall, there are still areas which they can improve on.
In the era of digitalization and advanced technology, there is a pressing need and importance for Marketers to focus on perfecting the UX across digital platforms. In the 21st century, the brands who can master the art of UX across digital platforms will be well ahead of the game.