September 25, 2018

Richard Branson's advice for creating great marketing

Behind every successful business is an element of great marketing – and no-one knows this better than Richard Branson. But how do you make sure you’re getting your marketing right? The Virgin Group founder has some advice…

“The key to great marketing is storytelling. And as Hollywood, Bollywood and the books and magazine industries demonstrate, nothing sells better than a great love story,” he says in a recent blog. “You’re wise to be careful about where you spend your profits, but reinvesting in marketing – as long as it is done smartly – is vital to the growth of any business.”
Richard says that he’s found one of the most effective forms of marketing – especially for Virgin Atlantic – has been to position himself as a visible part of the business. But he also recommends telling customers’ stories and drawing on their experiences.



“Another angle to pursue is content marketing, which is a term for sharing wonderful stories that bring a smile to people’s faces, while also highlighting your brand values and products,” he says. “The best marketing you could wish for is already at your disposal: In this age of social media overload, it’s crucial to have a differentiator.”
You may need to use some of your budget to invest in paid social boosts to make sure the right people see them. “Using the targeting available on sites like Facebook, more people who might be interested will see your brand. In turn, old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing can then come into play alongside social sharing,” he explains.
Another route you could do is to consolidate your efforts to make one ‘big splash’ like Naja, an ethical and eco-friendly lingerie, swim and activewear brand did. “When launching a campaign for a ‘nude’ lingerie suitable for women of all skin tones, I urged founder Catalina Girald to invest in one eye-catching billboard, then tell the news media that it was part of a nationwide campaign. It’s something we did successfully with Virgin Atlantic, too, and it works well if the initial billboard is clever enough,” Richard says.

“Taking my advice, Catalina created a striking visual poster campaign in one fashionable New York subway station. Social media picked it up instantly, and press interest soon followed. It worked so well that website traffic quadrupled, press coverage exploded and sales soared. Now, that’s clever advertising and budget management! Consider how a similar campaign could work for you, and think creatively about how, when and where to execute it.”
Great marketing is all well and good, but Richard notes that it’s more important to define the purpose of your business and make sure it’s at the heart of everything you do. “That’s the most effective way to begin building a long-term future for your company. Try to delegate key tasks, so you have room to think about the bigger picture (but keep your eye on the detail, too). And while it’s great that you and your husband are partners who can bounce ideas off each other, consider recruiting people with additional skillsets as your business grows.”
Written by: Natalie Clarkson

September 19, 2018

The Next Marketing Skill You Need To Master: Touch

A few weeks ago, I took a class at Sephora on how to apply foundation—a life skill I failed to acquire in seventh grade probably because I had my oily nose buried in a book.
The beauty retailer offers a number of these free hands-on tutorials, which I had learned about from a friend after commiserating on the mystical art of “contouring.*” This particular one focused on Rihanna’s Fenty line, and over the course of an hour, an instructor walked me and another registrant through a step-by-step application of everything from primer to highlighter.
I didn’t walk away a beauty expert or a pop icon, but I did leave with some actionable tips—and a full bag of makeup. I had gone from try to buy in 60 minutes and spent more than double what InfoScout reports as the average basket size for Sephora.
I’m getting pink in the cheeks just typing this, and I know it’s not blush, because I haven’t taken that class yet.
If I’d shopped online, I doubt I would have purchased half the items I did. So the fact that I had spent with such abandon got me thinking: Does getting a product literally into a consumers’ hands increase purchase intent?

What I found surprised me. Despite the fact that we can buy anything and everything on the web, 56% of consumers surveyed recently by RetailDive said they still visit retail stores to first see or touch products before buying online. That tells us that despite the prevalence of digital many consumers still want to kick the tires or apply the lipstick. And the science I uncovered behind “haptic marketing” tells us a lot about how we can influence spending in truly high-touch ways.
What is haptic marketing?
Haptic information is the information we acquire using the power of touch. Haptic marketing is a relatively new discipline that focuses on the use of tactile sensations to influence purchasing.
Back in the olden days, when shopping was done primarily in person, we frequently used haptic feedback in our product assessments—we felt fabrics, pushed buttons, squatted in jeans, and squeezed cantaloupes.
Thanks to the rise of e-commerce, we now see things in picture form and use product specs and customer reviews to fill in the gaps of our understanding.
In many cases, we don’t hold what we’ve bought until the box arrives. In some cases, that leads to disappointment: “This fabric isn’t as sturdy as I thought it would be” or “These headphones don’t feel comfortable.”
While we may think of ourselves as omnichannel marketers, our shift to digital has caused us to overlook a key offline channel: Skin. Our dermis is the biggest bodily organ, and it is stuffed with tissue and sensory receptors that allow us to feel pressure, pain, texture, vibrations, and temperature, among other sensations. These receptors can trigger behavior. In fact, a field of science called “embodied cognition” argues that the loci of our decision making isn’t simply in our brain as previously thought, but influenced or even led by the body.
Altogether, that means our sense of touch can impact our buying decisions.
But don’t take my word for that. Ask Joann Peck, a marketing professor at the Wisconsin School of Business; she’s one of the foremost experts on the study of haptic marketing.
Among her findings: In situations where it helps to understand a product’s attributes (is a 1,000-thread-count sheet softer than 500?), touch can increase purchase intent because it gives us more confidence in our choice to buy. Even if touch isn’t connected to a product attribute (a piece of bark in the fundraising campaign for the arboretum), it can still increase our positive feelings toward the product if the touch is positive.  Additionally, if you touch something because you think it looks fun or enjoyable, that too can increase your product sentiment.

There’s more to touch than evaluation, however. The feels can give us a sense of connection. “Merely touching an object results in an increase in perceived ownership of that object,” another of Peck’s mountain of studies concluded. And from feelings of ownership, purchase almost seems like destiny. I think I owned that eyeliner the minute I learned how to do a cat’s eye that didn’t make me look witchy.
Finally, and this is where it really gets interesting: Assuming the sensation of touch was positive, study participants who touched an object put a higher financial value on the object. That suggests that they could expect to pay more for it.
How can you use haptic marketing?
Given the potential impact of touch to increase confidence, sentiment, ownership, and value perception of a product, it’s not a bad idea for marketers to think about how to leverage this sense as part of customer experience. In this overwhelmingly digital world, product touch can actually be a differentiation point. Plus, it can reduce the impact or returns and refunds by ensuring that people know what they're buying.
Using touch as a marketing tool is not an entirely new concept. Free samples and free trials, for example, have long been doorwarmers for the beauty and SaaS industries. In these fields, consumers have become accustomed to getting to try before they buy.
In addition to this tried-and-true tactic, we’ve seen more clever strategies in recent years to encourage touch. For example, e-retailers like Macy’s, ASOS and Nordstrom are trying to replicate the dressing room experience  by offering free delivery and returns. That way you get to touch and try, with no downside of shipping costs. Similarly, companies like Warby Parker and Casper took away the risk of buying something people once never thought they’d buy online by building touch into the journey.
Another option is the creation of “haptic experiences,” in which the product is built into an activity the customer would otherwise enjoy—a la the Sephora class. The store gave me the opportunity to do something I thought was fun, and that I thought could help me.
In that case, the haptics were the products; but Peck’s research tells us we can stray a bit farther out. We can also leverage associative experiences of touch, such as placing something that evokes positive haptic sensations (an especially cuddly blanket) next to a product we’re trying to sell (a sleep aid).
Or, we could create an enjoyable but product-unrelated experience, and build in our product. An example would be the Cadillac House in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Cadillac designed a highly stylistic art gallery, cafĂ©, coworking space, and pop-up shop that happens to have some cars sitting in it. Some people I know attended a marketing event there, and they mentioned that during breaks people took conference calls in the cars. Isn’t that an inventive way to get urban sophisticates who wouldn’t have identified as Cadillac drivers to touch a vehicle? Come try our $50,000 phone booth.
But what if touch isn’t an option?
While the aforementioned strategies will work for some companies, it’s not feasible for every brand to insert touch into the customer experience. But there are some workarounds.
Research suggests that when touch isn't an option, you should consider approximating the experiences you’d gain from touching. A study from TheJournal of Consumer Psychology found that for objects with material properties (like a shag rug or suede boots) people typically preferred to purchase in person—but the preference is significantly reduced when those properties are explained verbally. So perhaps there’s an audio file, video or just some powerful copywriting that can describe just the fluffiness of rug and the buttery softness of the boots.
Video is in itself a powerful medium to leverage in helping simulate the experience of touch, but a simple product 360 probably won’t do it. Consider how you could use a person to humanize the touch and serve as a proxy for your buyer. For example, you might have the talent touching the product and reacting to it, just as every single Cooking Channel show does ad nauseam to show how the food tastes. As a brand example, I love the videos Zappos includes with each pair of shoes; a company employee who looks like a normal person tries them on and walks around. These videos feel authentic, and I can imagine the shoes on me.
Or, for another P.O.V. on video proxies: On Think With Google, Matt Anderson talks about a growing YouTube trend called “shop with me” videos, in which creators take their viewers into a store. The watch time of such videos apparently has increased 1,000% over two years. “With this format, viewers are able to experience the shopping journey through someone they trust, and in the process evaluate whether a product is right for them,” he says.
In addition to video, we’re seeing some innovative brands using VR/AR to help create physical simulacrum—such as the Halstead Properties app mentioned in this article on CMO.com that allows you to turn the doorknob in a home listing for yourself.
We’re at the precipice of being able to more commonly provide simulations of touch like this via "haptic technology," which can approximate the experiences that you get through touch via vibrations or pressure. Right now the systems are used primarily in gaming (that rumbling feeling when you play a car racing game on an Xbox), consumer electronics (the Apple Watch notification vibration) and in safety mechanisms (the shaking controller that signals to a pilot that he or she has made an error). Analyst firm Markets and Markets predicts that it will be a $20 billion industry by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 16%.
Some of the innovators in this space hope to see the translation of the technologies to brands. Last year, Immersion, a U.S. company in the haptics business, ran a test with IPG Media Labs in which they showed people ads from Arby’s, BMW and Royal Caribbean that included forced feedback sensations. Their finding: Such ads resulted in a 62% increase in feelings of connection to the brand and 50% brand lift, plus increased happiness and excitement compared to ads without haptics.
Another study—this one with less of an agenda—from the journal Psychology and Marketing used haptic technology in the form of a Novint Falcon game controller as part of an automotive test drive simulation. For people who had high Need for Touch, the experience collision resulted in more positive evaluations of the car and higher sense of brand connection.
One thing to consider, however, is that some of the reactions from these two studies may be owed to novelty—meaning the benefits of haptics may wane as the tech becomes more prominent. But in any case, it will be exciting to see where these technologies go, how the first-movers in marketing use them, and how the rest of us will catch up in second gen.
If more marketers start thinking about haptics as essential to customer experience, we may see a correction in the form of a renaissance of touch. A 2015 Harvard Business Review article claimed “We’re about to enter an era in which many more consumer products companies will take advantage of sense-based marketing.” The authors may have called it a bit early—but it’s still possible that "high-touch" may come to mean something very different in the near future. And who knows, maybe I'll even have learned to apply makeup by then.
Written by: Margaret Magnarelli - Contributor for Forbes 

September 5, 2018

How to Calculate the ROI of Influencer Marketing Campaigns

#1: Determine Your End Goal at the Beginning


Before launching an influencer marketing campaign, you need to decide what you want to accomplish. Establishing an end goal for your efforts is essential for determining how you’ll measure it. Here are the most common end goals (and how to measure them):
Brand awareness: Two ways to measure brand awareness are the number of pieces of content produced and impressions.
Lead generation: Offering an opt-in inclusion for a newsletter or conversions (such as registering for a price quote) are quantifiable ways to gauge lead generation.
Direct sales: Unique discount codes (as in the example below) can help you track sales from your influencer marketing campaign.

Brand lift: Brand lift takes brand awareness a step further and refers to a measurable increase in your social media or website presence. Measurements of brand lift include social media following and specific conversions such as website traffic.
Remember, measuring ROI only works if you choose the measurement tactic before launching your influencer campaign.

#2: Design Your Influencer Marketing Campaign With Measurement in Mind

Once you’ve identified your end goal, make sure you have the proper assets in place for your influencer campaign. Design a campaign and seed influencers with the necessary assets to make the goal measurable.
Here are some examples of which assets to put in place to measure ROI:
Direct sales: If you sell products online and want to measure ROI of your influencer campaign by direct sales, give influencers a unique code to give to their audience that they can use at checkout for a percentage off their purchase. A good amount is 15%-20% off.

Make sure the influencer has experience using your brand’s product or service, and let them know you’ll be giving them a discount code before the campaign launches. They can then quote you an appropriate rate and write their post accordingly.
Impressions: To create maximum exposure, ask influencers to share their review of your product on their blog (if they have one), as well as their social channels.

Conversions: If you’re trying to generate leads via your influencer marketing campaign, make sure you have a juicy piece of content that influencers can share with their audience. Also, be transparent with influencers that you’ll be measuring the success of your campaign based on a certain conversion you’re asking them to link to.
Number of pieces of content produced: If you want influencers to produce content for a certain channel, supply high-quality visual and content assets that they can use (i.e., pictures of your brand’s product). Also, ask influencers to post across all of their channels to maximize the types of content that your brand receives.
Before launching your campaign, it’s a good idea to assign a value to each piece of content you’ll be receiving. You can then factor that into the ROI you attribute to your overall campaign.
Sign-ups: You want to make sure influencers understand that you’re trying to push a certain piece of content or increase subscribers to a newsletter. Knowing this, they can skillfully write a post that steers their audience to help you achieve your goals. This will change the direction of a post, so it’s crucial to be upfront with influencers about it from the very beginning.
Social media following: As with sign-ups, a goal of increasing your social media following will ultimately inform the direction of an influencer’s post. You can have the influencer include a call to action (CTA) in their content for readers to follow your brand on various social channels. Also running a contest or giveaway on social media is a fun way to lead an influencer’s audience to your social channels.

#3: Compile Campaign Data to Establish ROI

Based on the goal of your influencer marketing campaign, you’ll need to measure one or more of the following campaign data points so you can use them to establish ROI:
Direct sales: Measuring direct sales is easy if you sell products online. To determine what you earned for every dollar spent, calculate the amount of sales you earned from your influencer’s unique discount code and divide it by the dollars you spent on the campaign. Or subtract the amount you spent from what you earned to determine what you earned from your campaign.

Impressions: Impressions is the number of people who saw your influencer’s blog or social post. Brands typically look at actual impressions or potential impressions.
Actual impressions are determined by the actual number of people who saw the post that the influencer produced. To determine this figure, calculate the influencer’s social following and/or monthly unique visits to their blog each month.
If you want to take this a step further, you can calculate potential impressions for each influencer-produced post. To do this, multiply the number of social shares that the post earned by the average number of followers per user on social media. The average number of followers for each network are:
  • Facebook: 338
  • Twitter: 707
  • LinkedIn: 930
  • Pinterest: 229
For instance, if your brand earns a blog post and it was shared on Facebook 10 times, multiply the shares (10) by the average number of followers per user on Facebook (338). Also add the influencer’s following to that figure. If the influencer in this example had a total reach on Facebook of 5,000, your post had 8,338 potential impressions.

The equation to use for each influencer in your campaign is:

# of shares of your post + average number of followers on channel + influencer’s reach = potential impressions per post

To translate impression calculations to ROI, businesses tend to use a numerical value of what they deem an impression is worth. This can be different for each social channel. A B2B brand would put more weight on LinkedIn than Pinterest, while certain B2C brands may value Facebook more than Twitter.
The average impression is worth $0.012 and can be increased or decreased per channel. To put a numeric value on impressions, simply use the equation above and multiply your actual impressions and/or potential impressions by $0.012 and, voilĂ ! You have your ROI.
Conversions: Conversions may overlap with a few other areas of influencer marketing campaign goals or measurements. To measure conversions, focus on actions a reader takes after viewing a social media or blog post. These actions might be downloads, purchases, or certain website pages visited.
There is no industry standard for conversions, so you might consider something like the percentage of website visitors who convert into buyers. To estimate how many of these unique visitors purchased from your brand, look at the number of website visitors brought in by following a link through an influencer’s blog post. Also factor in the average amount a consumer spends per purchase.
Number of pieces of content produced: When it comes to measuring how much a piece of media is worth, consider how valuable and versatile all influencer content can be. These words and images can be used on websites as testimonials, across social media, and in a variety of marketing materials. These pieces of media can also convert readers into leads or direct buyers to an online store.
There is no industry standard for measuring a piece of influencer-produced media, so it’s helpful to look at sales and ROI from a past campaign. Next, divide the number of pieces of media produced for the total campaign by sales, and assign a value to each piece of media.
Keep in mind that you’re basing this metric on past methods of measuring ROI, so it may not be a great measurement tactic if you’re running your first influencer marketing campaign. However, it does give you a reference point.
Sign-ups: Sign-ups are often intertwined with conversions and can be measured in much the same way. Sign-ups generated from a single piece of influencer content can give you great metrics, especially if you don’t sell products online. You can include a lead capture form to download a piece of content or sign up for a newsletter, which is a great way to build your email list.
Social media following: Some brands employ influencers to help them build their social media presence. You can designate a numerical value for each new follower to attribute a dollar amount to the new eyeballs on your brand.
Written by: Kristen Matthews - Social Media Examiner
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