Understanding Consumer Behaviour

As marketers, part of our job is staying informed of the latest trends in consumer behaviour and following how those trends change over time. While the term “consumer behaviour” is often considered just another buzz word, the concept actually goes much deeper than that – it’s a science that has been studied extensively in the marketing world for decades. So let’s look a little closer and see how it applies to our current situation – both on a worldwide scale, and smaller ones.

What Is Consumer Behaviour?

Consumer behaviour is relatively easy to define, but it encompasses a lot of different factors and ideas. It is the study of consumers (i.e. buyers and customers), and the processes – both conscious and unconscious – that they use to choose, consume, and dispose of products and services. These processes can be emotional, mental, behavioural, or environmental.

consumer behaviour effects

Some influencers of consumer behaviour (from Frank Belzer)

Marketers use common consumer behaviours to determine what influences their customer base, to predict purchase decisions, and to create new products and innovations that fill in perceived market gaps. Using established data to their advantage, marketers can more effectively reach, engage with, and convert their target audiences.

Some of the most important factors in determining consumer behaviour include:

Individual Influences

These include personal interests and opinions, often determined by age, gender, culture, location, and so on, as well as social factors, like family, friends, education, income, and social networks. Psychological factors also play a role in how individuals perceive and respond to marketing messages.

Types of Purchasing Behaviour

These can be broken down into four categories:

    • Complex Buying: When consumers buy expensive, infrequently-purchased products/services, they will be highly involved and will do thorough personal research on the investment (i.e. a house or a car)
    • Dissonance Reduction: This refers to a purchase with high involvement in the process, but consumers have trouble differentiating brands, and worry about “buyer’s remorse”
    • Habitual: There is little involvement in the product or brand category, such as grocery shopping for a few specific items
    • Variety Seeking: Buying something different just for the “fun” of it, like trying a new food or clothing type
Common Factors

Beyond individual influences, external and internal factors also play a part in changing consumer behaviour. These include:

  • Marketing Campaigns: Done properly and regularly, these can persuade consumers to switch brands, remind them about products/services, and drive impulse purchases – even for more expensive options.
  • Economic Conditions: Strong economic situations make for more confident consumers, driving large purchases. A negative economy, such as the one threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, can do the opposite.
  • Personal Preference: Dislikes, moral oppositions, priorities, and values all rank among the top of the main behaviour drivers.
  • Group Influence: We’ve all heard about peer pressure, and it has a well-earned reputation for guiding behaviour. Recommendations or warnings from a trusted friend can have a big impact on what we buy.
  • Purchasing Power: Your marketing and messaging could be perfect, but if the audience simply doesn’t have the budget for your product or service, they won’t be able to purchase it. This ties in to other personal, cultural, and socioeconomic factors, to varying degrees.

 

All of these factors and considerations taken together and compared over time will give you insights into changing consumer behaviour and how it affects you and your sales process. But it’s a lot of information – how can you analyze these ideas and turn them into better messaging and marketing campaigns?

 

Analyzing Consumer Behaviour

Taking a good look at consumer behaviour through data is easier than ever before, thanks to the rise of online shopping, website cookies, and detailed records. Some of the most important behaviours to consider are consumer emotions and feelings toward your brand or product (and its alternatives), the major influences on their choices, their shopping behaviour and trends, and what other external factors might be coming in to play that you hadn’t considered.

One example of how these factors intertwine is the big shift that happened due to COVID-19. As lockdowns went into place around the world, a huge portion of consumers moved their shopping online, for everything from groceries and basic supplies to their usual comfort goods and luxuries. This caused a surge in digital advertising in some industries, and a drop in spending across others. The final result? Less competition for ad space, increased engagement with more eyes on your messaging, and a bit better bang for your marketing dollars. But the flip side is that many people went into strict money-saving mode, and weren’t spending on unnecessary items, which was a behaviour trend that affected thousands of businesses.

consumer behaviour - covid changes

How consumer mindsets have changed during COVID-19 (from Forbes)

 

Using Behaviour to Your Benefit

So you know you’ve got to get some info on your consumers’ behaviour – but how do you get that data? Whether you’re running a two-person coffee shop on a downtown corner, or a giant multinational fashion chain, here are some ways you can get a finger on the pulse of your potential buyers, and find out what motivates them.

Gathering Customer Reviews: If someone had a great experience (or a terrible one), this is one of the best ways to find out. You can get insights into specific deciding factors for your products, and identify common themes or issues in your marketing and business.

 

Using Q&A Sites and Opportunities: Like a more robust review, interactive Q&A sites and forums (e.g. Reddit) can give you a platform to ask and be asked about your products/services. You can get highly targeted feedback, which is useful for improving your sales in the future.

 

Customer Surveys: Much like the Q&A idea, surveys are more regular, and can be sent directly after purchase or at specific intervals afterward to gain information on the user experience. This can help you find trends in what motivates your buyers, or what your customers think of your offerings, and lets you ask specific questions, depending on your needs.

 

Keyword Research: Knowing what potential consumers are searching for and interested in – down to specific terms and phrases – can be a huge help in getting your brand in front of them on the screen. Investing in the right SEO content takes time, but when done right, it does pay off.

 

Google Analytics: Are your customers shopping from their phone or their desktop? Did a big Instagram account tag you in a post and drive a few thousand people to your profile and website? Just how effective was that summer sale you had? Google Analytics can tell you all of that, and a whole lot more. The information provided by Google’s backend platform is extremely powerful in trained hands, and can help you identify consumer trends in geography, demographics, page views, promotions, etc. When you know what works, you can drop what doesn’t.

 

consumer behaviour - google data

Some metrics you can measure with Google Analytics (from Hubspot)

 

Competitor Analysis: If you’ve noticed a slump, take a look at what your competitors might be doing, and how you can switch up your approach. It might be as simple as one key element or bit of language you’re using (or not using).

 

Comments and Engagement Online: Do you maintain a blog or social accounts? (If not, you should!) Pop in to the comments and see what people are saying. Don’t be afraid of honest feedback – you might get questions or concerns, but you could also find compliments or recommendations for something new.

 

The RFM Method: Standing for “recency, frequency, monetary value”, this is a measure of how recently someone ordered from you, how many times they purchased from you in a given time frame, and how much they have spent since their first order. This is an excellent way to identify high-value, lifelong customers, and express your appreciation for their support.

 

consumer behaviour - rfm method

The RFM method for visualizing high-value customers (from Moengage)

 

Social Media: Do you have an ambassador who sings your praises all over their TikTok videos, or a shadow who pounces with negative comments as soon as you post anything, anywhere? We live in an age of immense data, and being able to use that information to create segments of your audience – “People Who Bought Something During This Sale”, “People Who Liked Ad #1”, etc. – lets you market more effectively to each, create better copy & imagery, and curate better content.

 

The needs, wants, and experiences of your customers are always the benchmark of ultimate success. By ensuring that your brand’s messaging and offerings mesh well with their behaviour patterns, you can create better campaigns that emotionally connect in the right way – leading to more success for you, and more satisfaction for them.

Having a professional team with the necessary tools and experience on your side is an excellent way to forge and solidify those connections. So when you’re ready to leverage the power of consumer behaviour, let us know!

The Benefits of Niche Marketing

When you think of successful marketing campaigns, chances are you’re thinking of major brands that can appeal to nearly everyone. We’ve all seen a Coke-A-Cola ad that pulls at our heartstrings or a Dove video that forces us to rethink beauty standards. What these powerful campaigns have in common is the ability to take a product (or service) that most of us use on a regular basis and force us to see it in a new light. They make us think outside the box, and in turn we keep them top of mind.

But what if your company provides a product or service that isn’t so commonly used? You may be a B2B business that sells equipment to oil and gas companies or develops tires for road bikes. Naturally, the smaller your target audience is, the less interest the general public will have in your brand. However, this does not mean you can’t have an effective marketing campaign or strategy that would resonate with audiences – even if they’re outside of your target. You may be thinking “what’s the point of developing a marketing strategy at all if I only sell to a specific group of people?” Well, a tailored, niche marketing strategy might be just the thing you need to be able to reach your consumer (public or not), and here’s why:

Target your customer base more accurately

Long gone are the days of “spraying and praying” marketing. Fifty years ago, nearly everyone watched the same television programs, listened to the same radio stations and read the same newspapers, so the chances of advertising with one of these mediums meant you had a pretty good chance of reaching your target. But, as technology evolved, developments made it easier for people to chose what media to consume and marketing became a lot more focused and complex (thanks a lot, internet). Luckily, so have our companies.

By doing comprehensive research into who your audiences are (demographics, interests, social media habits, etc.) you’ll be able to identify how they spend their time and consume their information, thus making it simpler for you to reach them.

Now that you know how to reach your niche audience, communicating with them effectively will allow you to develop stronger relationships. By developing a strong marketing campaign that allows you to interact with your current and potential customers on a more personal level, you will in turn be creating brand loyalty. Communicating to a smaller number of people allows them to get to know you and your team closely, making them feel like they’re a part of something bigger.

Increase Word-of-Mouth Referrals

No matter what your business is, we’re going to guess your goal is to grow it. It’s no secret that word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of communication – in fact, 92% of people would take a recommendation from family and friends over traditional advertising. Why? Because you’re always going to trust someone you know more than a brand or business you don’t, bringing us right back to having closer connections with your niche market. So, once your audience develops that trust with your brand, they’re going to sing your praises to their contacts. This is especially true in niche marketing, where your audience is smaller and more targeted, meaning they’re likely to have connections with each other.

Get Ahead of your Competition

If you’re in a B2B industry where marketing isn’t overly prevalent, a marketing will help get you ahead of the game. By communicating with those that follow your brand and sharing your company culture, as well as industry thoughts and insights, you’re staying top of mind and positioning yourself as an organization passionate about what it does. It doesn’t matter whether your own a B2B or B2C business, people want to be associated with brands that care about their work.

Just because none of your competitors are using marketing strategies that put them top of mind and ahead of the curve doesn’t mean you need to follow suit – stand out and become a leader!

Create an Emotional Connection

Yup, we’re going to end off on a heavy note. It doesn’t matter if you’re products or services aren’t “exciting,” we guarantee your business effects your audiences on a deeper level than you think. The business development manager whose attention you’re trying to get? Chances are he or she has a family they are providing for. The work you do directly affects the lives of everyone involved – whether that be your customer or your employee. So, it’s important to communicate your organizations mission and values in an effective way to different audiences, no matter how small that group may be.

When it comes to interesting, heartfelt marketing campaigns, Enbridge – an energy transportation company – most likely wouldn’t be your first thought. However, one look at their website and you know where their values stand – providing ethical and safe energy resources for the community they serve. Sure, energy may not be exciting, but knowing that your energy provider has your family’s best interests at heart, that’s something most people can get behind.

Marketing to a smaller number of people, about a topic (you may) not think is overly “marketable” might not seem like a smart investment – but we’re here to tell you it’s just the opposite. In fact, it may be one of the smartest things you can do to get noticed in the right circles and take your business to the next level. Not sure where to start? Let us know, we’re here to help.

Marketing Do or Don’t: Live Video

It’s no secret that the current social media landscape can be a confusing world for brands to navigate. Its ever-changing nature can make creating effective marketing strategies difficult – one minute Facebook reigns supreme, the next it’s Instagram. Not only are the platforms constantly filtering through, but consistent upgrades and new added features can prove to be less user-friendly than developers hope they would. Take for example the Instagram feed; developers changed it from chronological order to a seemingly more tailored experience for each individual user. This resulted in major backlash as many found their posts were not being seen by their followers, ultimately forcing users to shift focus to Instagram stories rather than traditional posting.

Another feature recently introduced on multiple platforms that has brands confused is live video. It is now possible to create live streams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, allowing audiences to see what you are doing in real time. But, as with nearly all new social media features, many brands begin to experiment without concrete strategy, which can result in lost time and effectiveness. So, is live video right for your marketing plan, and if so, how do you execute it effectively? Here are a few ways to get started:

Know your audience

This should be a first step in any marketing strategy – live video or not. In order to effectively communicate with your audience, you have to know who they are. What platforms do they use? When are they most engaging? What kind of content do they respond to best? It wouldn’t make any sense to do a ‘behind-the-scenes’ type of video on Facebook live if your audience are consistently sending you questions through Instagram direct messaging – try a live Q&A on Instagram instead. It’s important to do the preliminary research to understand what your current (and desired) audiences are looking for – demographic research will go a long way here.

Consider your industry

When developing a plan to execute a marketing strategy, consider what it is you want to communicate with your audiences. If you’re planning on sharing valuable industry information, consider whether you want to be a thought leader or if you want to keep trade secrets, well, secret. Is a behind-the-scenes look into your brand’s operations going to make for an enticing or boring video? Be brutally honest with yourself and think about live video content from a consumer’s perspective – what is it you’d want to know?

Be prepared to improvise

The nature of live video is exactly that – live. It’s meant to be in the moment and real, meaning there’s no room for rigid, scripted content. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for this produced content, it would just be better suited as a post. If you’ve decided to use live video as part of your marketing strategy, use it as a tool to give audiences an inside scoop into your brand, whether that be answering live questions or giving an in-the-moment sneak peek into specific operations. The beauty of live video is the authenticity is gives brands, making them more relatable – take this time to truly connect.

Look, live videos are tricky. Not only do you need to consider all of the above, but you also need to have insight into what time of day and week your audiences is most active on social media to be able to time it correctly. A live video won’t be effective if no one tunes in. Luckily, our marketing expertise will not only help you identify is live video is right for your brand, but also the best course of action for executing that plan. Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you navigate the world of live video.

How Will Artificial Intelligence Impact Marketing?

While we may not be driving through space or teleporting to different parts of the world within seconds (yet), you simply cannot deny that the future is now. Cars are driving themselves, we communicate with our homes verbally and nearly everyone on the planet has a personalized, hand-sized computer with them at all times that is immeasurably more powerful than those which filled entire rooms and took dozens of people to operate in the 1970s.

Anyone can see that we’ve made incredible technologic advancements in the last 100 years – heck, in the last 10 alone! Thanks to the internet and its accessibility (read: no more dial up), we now live in the age of information. Anything we’ve ever wanted to know is available to us with a few taps of a screen. Because of this, consumers are more engaged and informed than ever before, thus creating the need for more integrated and targeted marketing. Gone are the days of creating a visually appealing ad with a catchy phrase and watching sales numbers skyrocket. Sure, advertisement is still incredibly important, but brands need to be smart about communicating what makes their product different from all the rest.

One reason for technology’s ability to advance at such a rapid rate is the growing development in artificial intelligence, more commonly referred to as AI. Through machine learning, a proponent of AI, computers and machine are now able to develop and reprogram systems based on previous knowledge without human intervention. Simply put, machines are now able to learn on their own through a series of algorithms developed through data collected. So, what does this mean for marketing?

Marketing in the New Age

Up until now, it’s been the job of marketing professionals to find a way to communicate the right message to the right audience using the right channels. Being able to reach the people who would be most interested in using a particular brand or product is and on-going challenge for marketers. Luckily, AI and machine learning has allowed us to better identify key audiences and channels by which to communicate with them. Ever notice that the top you were considering buying from that online clothing store is now popping up in ads on nearly every website you visit? Yes, your ‘machine’ was able to taking into account data such as the website you visited, the time spent looking at the particular item, and your other interests based on what you search to create a tailored advertising experience for you. That, in a nutshell, is AI in the new age of marketing.

While AI helps marketers identify what target audiences are interested in seeing, it is still up to the creativity of the human mind to communicate the messaging authentically. AI and machine learning will continue to develop and aid marketing efforts, making the lives of marketing professionals easier. It seems ironic that as technology becomes increasingly integrated into our lives, we strive more and more for human connection – thus proving that a computer will never fully replace the need for marketers. At least yet, once this happens we have bigger issues on our hands!

For now, we welcome the assistance and knowledge AI provides us and the information it finds on our audiences. Our years of hands-on experience allows us to know what to do with it!

Need help targeting your audiences effectively? Contact us here!

Does your Business Need an App?

How many apps do you have on your smartphone? Statistically speaking, it’s probably a pretty decent number. According to a report on The Business of Apps website, an estimated 197 billion apps were downloaded to mobile devices in 2017 and that number is expected almost double by 2021. Apps are a major craze in our modern culture. The phrase “there’s an app for that” has become a ubiquitous cultural saying that’s used almost jokingly, because quite literally, there seems to be an app for absolutely anything and everything you can think of.

The popularity of apps is undeniable, and because it seems like the cool thing (and maybe the smart thing) to do from a business perspective, a lot of business owners rush ahead creating an app for their company simply in the hope of having a presence on people’s phones. Just like any marketing decision though, the choice to create an app for your business should be approached with forethought and strategy. The first question any businessperson should ask themselves on the matter is:

Does my business actually need an app?

To answer that question there are some other important questions to ask yourself as well.

  1. Will an App Boost My Bottom Line?

Business apps, generally speaking, are meant to drive sales and improve customer service. They can be an important part of a business’s social media strategy, because they are extremely effective as tool for communicating directly with customers. Push notifications, special offers and deals and memory for what an individual customer prefers make apps very inviting for a lot of people to use. But if your particular business can’t sell anything via an app, there really isn’t any point in having one. If you can’t get customers to spend money through your app, then you can’t get on ROI on the cost of its development and upkeep. If you can’t make money with it, an app it’s not a good business tool.

  1. Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

Before commissioning an app for your business, its important to ensure your website is fully functional on mobile devices. This is important for two reasons: 1) Navigation on a smartphone or tablet is entirely different than on a laptop or desktop computer, and 2) Anyone who uses your app will definitely cruise around your website via the same device. If your website doesn’t work well on a mobile, getting it to do so is your first priority.

  1. What Will an App do that my Mobile Website Can’t?

Again, this is an entire functionality question. Are you going to design an app that will require GPS access? Maybe you’ll want it to be able to access photos or the user’s built-in camera. If everything you need and want your app to do can successfully be done through your mobile website, why spend the money on a second online access point?

  1. Are my Customers App Savvy?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but in their passion to create something modern and fun (i.e. an app) many business owners overlook a key aspect of its success: whether or not their target market is the sort of group who will pay for, download and use an app in the first place. If your customers prefer to do business face to face, an app probably isn’t going to do much for you.

  1. How Strong is my Brand?

When someone decides to download your app, they’re paying you (and your business) a pretty big compliment. There’s only so much real estate to be had on our mobile devices, so your presence there is no small thing. Apps are a powerful method of boosting brand awareness and loyalty – the trick is though, you have to have a clearly defined brand to begin with. Make sure the touch points of your brand are solid before you develop an app, and it will do a lot more for you in the way of helping to build your image.

  1. What’s my Budget?

Depending on who you engage to develop your app and the intricacies of its design and programming, the cost of getting it up and running can run anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand. On top of that, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to charge a fee for your app or allow users to download it for free. Most business owners aren’t aware either, that app stores take a cut of your sales – typically somewhere around 30% of what you charge users to buy it. In other words, there are monetary considerations when producing an app that are important to get on top of before you begin.

Want to learn more about the possibilities and potential problems in creating a business app? Hit us up for coffee and a chat. We love talking tech.

Building your Business with Video

The popularity of video marketing is soaring, and for good reason. Thanks to mobile devices, virtually everyone has access to online content at all times, and videos have a way of grabbing attention. Research groups like Forbes, Adweek, Google, Cisco and comScore all have similar stats on video consumption and the numbers speak volumes:

  • 80% of all internet traffic will be driven by video in 2018
  • 75% of executives say they watch a business video at least once a week
  • 90% of online shoppers say that product videos help them make purchasing decisions
  • 45% of Facebook users watch more than an hour of video each week
  • Websites are 53% more likely to come up on a Google search if they have video content

If you don’t have a corporate video (or your existing one is out of date) now’s the time to start filming. But just like any other marketing endeavor, corporate videos need forethought and planning to be most effective. Before you get the camera rolling, here are a few things to consider:

  1. 1. Who’s Your Audience? No matter how great your product or service is, it’s not for everybody. Be very clear about who you’re talking to, what they want and need from you, and figure out what you need to say to appeal to them. Video is a great way to motivate people to taking the next step – investigate further or hire you for a job then and there, so be sure you’re speaking your target audience’s language. You want to make them believe that what you’re offering is something they can’t do without.
  2. Hire a Pro. Sure you can create a video with your smart phone, and maybe your receptionist’s nephew really is a decent amateur cameraman, but is that going to be enough to create a great looking video? No, of course it isn’t. There’s a lot more to video production than hitting the record button and yelling action!, and only an experienced producer can bring it all together in a way that makes you look like the professional you are. Script writing, lighting, editing, creative concepts – video production is a highly nuanced artform, and if you hire a subcalibre videographer, you’re going to end up with a video that makes you and your business look bad. Production value matters.
  3. Tell a Compelling Story. Video is innately memorable, but it becomes even more impactful when the message you’re conveying makes an emotional connection with the viewer. What is the unique story you and only you can tell? Has your business or product helped to change someone’s life or work for the better? What drives you as a company? Think about how you can showcase your organization’s heart and soul and get it on camera. People engage with companies and products that mean something to them, so the more meaningful you can be to your audience, the better.
  4. Show – Don’t Tell. The biggest advantage of video is that it allows you to demonstrate things in a visual way. Nothing is more boring than watching a talking head, so make a point of actively showing whatever it is your selling. Action on video is engaging and helps create that important emotional connection you want to have with your audience.

But be forewarned – video does not come cheap, and is not the kind of initiative you should try and cut corners (or budgets) when creating. However, the investment is well worth it, as a professionally produced video can help you grab the attention of your customers, and ultimately, increase revenues.

Check out some of the videos we’ve created for our clients here.

The Most Effective Social Media Platform for your Business

Social media can be an incredibly powerful way to market your business. The benefits of real time communication, mass audiences, and the advantage of having a presence literally in the palm of customers’ hands are hard to overlook. But if you’ve spent any time planning a social media strategy, or more significantly, implementing one, you know just how time consuming social media marketing can be. Even with the use of social media management software like Hootsuite or Sprout Social (on-line platforms that make it possible to preprogram social posts in advance) the time it takes to schedule your posts and create content really adds up.

We all know time is money when it comes to business, so how do you control the costs associated with social media marketing? If you’re a small business or a startup, chances are you won’t have the time to invest in a broad social campaign, and if you’re in a position to hire a social media manager, you’ll still have a budget to adhere to. Over and above the time cost of social media marketing, blasting out content over every available platform isn’t the most effective way to get your message across. Just like every other form of marketing, your social media posts should be carefully targeted. Certain platforms attract certain users, so it’s worthwhile to do a little backend research on which social media platforms are the best choice for you. Doing so can save you hours in payroll costs and make your efforts much more effective in terms of ROI.

Let’s breakdown the basics on the most popular social platforms for marketing:

Facebook

Men and women between the ages of 25 and 54 make up the bulk of regular Facebook users – about 32% are women, and about 20% of that group are men. If your target market is younger than 25, Facebook probably isn’t the platform for your business (only 9% of Facebook users fall between the ages of 18 and 24.) If your target market is older though, you should consider making Facebook a major component of your social marketing. Statistics show that 44% of Facebook users check the platform multiple times a day.

LinkedIn

If you’re a B2B marketer, you can’t afford to not to have a LinkedIn presence. According to LinkedIn stats, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content. LinkedIn users are folks who are looking to solve a professional problem, and the place to find expert help is on this platform. An effective LinkedIn strategy will give your company incredible exposure and great credibility too. What’s more – LinkedIn’s advanced audience targeting capabilities ensure your posts are highly likely to convert to solid leads.

Instagram

With 500 million users – 59% of whom use the app every day, Instagram has incredible reach. That being said, this highly popular platform has its downsides for marketing purposes. Instagram uses an algorithm that prevents posts from being seen chronologically, which means you can’t be sure how many of your followers will actually see your post while they’re scrolling through. On top of that particular inconvenience, Instagram doesn’t allow for clickable links on any posts. This platform tends to be great for brand building (lots of pretty pictures and streaming video) but not so fantastic for generating sales.

Snapchat

Surprised this made the cut? If the answer is yes, chances are you’re older than 24. This particular social platform is alive and well among younger millennials, with more than 100 million users consuming a minimum of 30 minutes of content every day. Live video, behind the scenes footage, interviews with influential people and tons of unique content keep traffic on this app steady, which makes it a great tool for free marketing to young customers.

Pinterest

If your product has anything to do with fashion, food, home décor or art, Pinterest should be a go-to for your social media marketing strategy – particularly if your target customers are women. The age demographic among women on Pinterest is wide; 35% of users are between 18 – 29, and 28% are between 30 – 49. What’s even more impressive is that 42% of all women who use social media are Pinterest users. And with the Pinterest buy button, sales are just a click away.

The landscape of social media is constantly changing, with new users and different apps being developed every day. Staying on top of what social platforms are best for your business is time consuming in and of itself – which is why it’s always a good idea to get the advice of experts. We at William Joseph do the backend research for you and will help steer the course of your social media marketing going forward. Nailing down where your business fits on the social media spectrum will give your marketing efforts on social a much better result.

Top Trends for Social Media in 2018

 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

When Bob Dylan wrote that iconic song (The Times They Are A-Changin’) back in 1963, he couldn’t have imagined that it would apply so perfectly, 55 years later, to a social landscape of a different kind. Social media has revolutionized our culture, and it continues to evolve at a pace so rapid that many of us have a hard time keeping up with it.

As marketers, it’s our job to keep up with social media trends. If we don’t, just like Dylan says, we’re doomed to sink like stones – losing the attention of important audiences and inevitably, losing out on revenue too.

There are about 2.5 billion social media users out there today. In the ocean that is modern social media, what trends will keep your marketing afloat? We’ve narrowed the list down to a Top 3:

  1. Live Video Content

According to Facebook, live streaming video receives 6X the engagement as non-live video. That’s a statistic that can’t be ignored, and the nuances of it are changing. Facebook recently announced a test run for what they call Watch Party – a feature that allows admins to choose any public Facebook video and show it to a group along with a dedicated comment real. The idea is to create a shared and active viewing experience, one that is more intimate and creates an immediate sense of community among selected viewers. Facebook’s VP of Product, Fidji Simo, says, With everyone watching, commenting and reacting to the same moments together, it creates a shared viewing experience for video that helps build the kind of community and engagement we’ve seen with Live.”

Other social platforms offer live video features too. All kinds of businesses and brands are using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to live stream content, engaging users by including them at events they otherwise would not be able to see.

  1. Messaging Apps as a Means of Customer Communication

Most people think of apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat as nothing more than an alternative to SMS or iMessage, but the marketing implications for these popular modes of quick communication are massive. An astounding 4 billion people use some form of alternate text messaging, and smart companies are utilizing this direct line of communication with individual customers in way that is transforming the face of customer service. The Hyatt chain of hotels, for example, is using Messenger as a means for guests to make reservations, ask questions, and get information for their trips. Texting apps are a faster and easier method for customers to get information or assistance they need from your businesses, and they’re a benefit to you in terms of cost efficiency and scalability. It’s a win-win idea, and it’s gaining steam.

  1. Virtual Experiences

If you want customers to engage with your brand, you need to reach them on a human level – and virtual experiences do just that. The rise in popularity of videos and features like Instagram Stories make it possible to connect with customers one-on-one in a deeply personal and memorable way. Virtual experiences put your followers (i.e. customers) within the story you’re telling, and the impact can be profound.  Take this terrific Virtual Giving Trip video created by TOMS Shoes for example:

https://youtu.be/jz5vQs9iXCs

The effect is better when you have a virtual reality headset or viewer, but you get the idea. Customers get to see (and feel) the impact of their TOMS purchase in a meaningful way. The feel-good factor of this virtual experiences cements users to the TOMS brand in a way that only human emotion can.

According to the Consumer Technology Association’s 2018 Tech Trends to Watch, virtual experiences are expected to generate up to 18% more revenue and 25% more units sold this year for companies that utilize them, so if you’re already dedicating some of your marketing budget to video, you should consider devoting a portion of it to virtual experience.

Yes indeed, the times for social media marketing are definitely a-changin’, and these three examples barely scratch the surface of it. Want to know the other social media trends your business should be aware of in 2018? Hit us up for a meeting. We’d be happy to share.

Title Fight – The Battle Between New and Traditional Media

We at William Joseph are constantly being asked which is more important when it comes to devising a successful marketing plan: traditional or new media? We always have the same answer: both.

There’s no denying that technology has had a massive impact on how we reach customers and how customers find the things they’re looking for, but underestimating the value of traditional media in your overall marketing plan could be a big mistake – depending of course on what you’re selling and who you’re trying to sell it to.

Think of traditional media and new media as boxers in a ring. In the red corner there’s the longstanding World Heavyweight Champion, Traditional Media – a fighter that packs a solid and time honoured punch. And over in the blue corner there’s the young contender, New Media – agile, savvy, fast footed and great at quick jabs. Traditional Media used to be untouchable, hammering home knockout punches time and time again. But in recent years, New Media has become a worthy opponent, throwing highly effective shots to Traditional Media’s side. Traditional Media can still pull off wins, but not always. Sometimes New Media steps up and delivers a hit that Traditional Media just can’t compete with anymore.

So what does this mean for your business’s marketing plan? It means you’ve got to know which fighter your target market is a fan of.

Traditional media sources like TV, radio, billboards and print ads definitely still have reach, but you have to be very clear on whether these tactics are going to deliver the kind of punch you need them to and very specific in terms of which sources to use. Consumers are becoming more and more autonomous when it comes to what they watch, read and listen to. On demand TV, customized playlists, online news sources and video channels like YouTube have made it necessary to be very targeted with traditional media choices, unless your market is entirely old school consumers.

We’re at a point in time where virtually everyone is online, so new media tactics like websites, digital ads, mobile apps, social media platforms and online videos are an essential part of any marketing strategy. Basically, you can’t not have new media if you want to attract new customers and generate sales. That said, new media sources tend to be most effective when strategically partnered with select traditional media outlets in a thorough and well thought out marketing plan. How else can a broad group of consumers find out about you in an expedient way? The billboard ad you put up drives people your website, and the radio ad you’ve got running during the end of day commute makes listeners look for your YouTube channel once they get home. See what we mean? When correctly balanced and properly executed, the fight between Traditional Media and New Media becomes more like a dance, with each contender bobbing and weaving their way to a tie, as voted by unanimous decision.

We get that it can be confusing – which is all the more reason that a well thought-out, smart marketing strategy is imperative when it comes to marketing your organization.

Want to find out what combination of new and traditional media is perfect for your business’s marketing endeavors? The team at WJ is just a phone call away.

The Best Approach to Services Marketing

Did you know that the service sector is a key driver of the Canadian economy? Information technology, management services, or financial and insurance services, all of which account for three of Canada’s fastest growing exports. In fact, according to John Greenwood of Maclean’s, some of Canada’s fastest growing exports are in the services sector – a sector which is often overlooked. While goods and commodities usually form the footing of Canada’s economy, real-time information on the impact of the service sector is challenging to manage and account for. As Greenwood coins it, the services sector is Canada’s secret economic playground, with technological advancements making it possible for Canadian service companies to experience significant growth by marketing and selling their services in global markets, and making top dollar too.

So, what exactly is a service? MarketingTeacher.com provides a great example:

“A service is the action of doing something for someone or something. It is largely intangible (i.e. not material). You cannot touch it. You cannot see it. You cannot taste it. You cannot hear it. You cannot feel it.”

The act of services marketing is selling experiences, not tangible products. This is the major difference between a company that produces goods versus a service provider. Goods are tangible, physical items, such as clothing, food, or office supplies which often have a set price to produce, package and ship. Services, on the other hand, is the action of performing work (or a service) for others, and can vary greatly in pricing depending the scope, requirements and perceived value of the service. A great example of services marketing is the tourism industry, such as Travel Alberta’s “Remember to Breath” campaign.

The category of service marketing is quite broad, and not all services are the same. Some having higher-value, and thus, have higher economic potential. Consider financial services, management consulting, medical services, engineering services, infrastructure, environmental services, mining services, water-management services as well as IT services, all of which Canadian companies are exporting worldwide. Every organization which provides and sells some kind of service uses service marketing strategies to sell their services to consumers (B2C) as well as to other businesses (B2B) both in Canada as well as globally.

While our experience is diverse, a lot of what we do here at William Joseph is focused on marketing services on both a local, national, and international scale. Given the extensive number of providers for any given service, differentiating your business and service offerings is critical, and there are best approaches to services marketing when it comes to standing out from the crowd.

Marketing a service can presents challenges which do not exist when marketing goods. Goods are tangible; however, services are not, leaving marketing strategists to have to communicate the benefits and unique differentiators of a service by drawing parallels with images, thoughts, and ideas that are more tangible. Another point is that consumers are more hesitant when purchasing services than goods, as goods can often be returned or exchanged. Experiences or services, on the other hand, cannot be returned once they are provided. Services are fluid and time-bound, never remaining the same in that they are both produced and consumed at the same time.

Strategic services marketing allows marketers to overcome the challenges of services marketing and narrow our focus to create more concentrated marketing tactics based on analytics. Research and insight is essential before embarking on any campaign as it can help your organization identify where you are now, where you want to be in the future, and what it will take to get you there, in addition to giving insight into your target audience, competition, industry trends, and so on. People will be at the pinnacle of your business’ success or failure, especially when it comes to selling services or experiences. Customer experiences with your service will need to be tailored to your target audience needs, wants, and expectations. Thorough research will help you determine the right marketing mix for your service, and better position your company for success.

Insight will also make it possible to determine your company’s “why.” Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why do you do what you do? This is your “why,” and is the very essence of your business’ brand and its story. To be successful, determining your business’ “why” is essential in creating a compelling campaign, and is an vital component to understanding how to effectively market your organization’s services.

After compiling, reviewing and understanding both internal and external insight into your organization, you can begin to develop a sound strategy grounded in research and based on your goals, brand, and key messaging. Service marketers must communicate the unique value of their services with immediacy, and without tangible goods, must do so visually through a compelling logo and brand. A sound strategy will result in a targeted approach, achievable milestones, and on-the-mark creative and tactics to support your strategy. To thrive, you must differentiate yourself, and to succeed in a competitive environment, you must understand how to do so.

Our Favourite Christmas Campaigns of 2017

Ohh, the holiday season. Who doesn’t love the abundance of holiday baking, extravagant gifts, eggnog, and quality time spent with family and friends? The best part about the holiday season for team WJ? All the ambitious Christmas advertising.

This is the time of year where retailers “make their money back” – literally. In 2013, North American’s spent US $3 trillion over the holidays, which reflects 19.2 percent of the sales from the entire year.

Many businesses recognize their potential to bring in the big bucks over this short two-month period. You may have noticed that advertising efforts have been revved up, and large-scale marketing campaigns and holiday ads are everywhere you look. With a piece of a three trillion-dollar pie at stake, retailers know that spending a little extra on an innovative or touching campaign is worth it, even if it means getting the smallest piece of that pie.

This year, businesses are using a variety of methods to reach their audience. Whether using emotion, humour, or visually-stimulating creative, here are just a few of our favourite holiday campaigns of 2017.

Compelling Visuals: Asda – “The Imaginarium”; This advert follows a young girl and her grandfather as they enter a world of wonder – the Christmas Imaginarium. The one-minute ad is chock-full of bright colours, special effects, and grandiose ideas of Christmas come to life. This keeps viewers engaged and in a state of wonder as they anticipate what creative images will be in the next frame.

Humour: Spotify – “2018 Goals”; Humour is one of the most effective way of reaching Millennials, who are one of the largest generations in history, and who spend $600 billion a year. Spotify, an online music streaming platform, recognized that to get Millennials to pay attention to an ad, they would need to really entertain them. The campaign was entitled “2018 Goals” and featured witty one-liners such as “2018 Goals: Be as loving as the person who put 48 Ed Sheeran songs on their “I Love Gingers” playlist” and “2018 Goals: Take a page from the 3,445 people who streamed the “Boozy Brunch” playlists on a Wednesday this year.” Well done Spotify, well done.

Controversy: Greggs – “Nativity Scene Sausage Roll”; Without question, a primary goal of any marketing is to get people talking, and by any means possible. Controversy is a tried-and-true tactic to accomplish this, and Greggs, the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom, made it their mission to get tongues wagging. Greggs released their holiday campaign in November 2017, and it featured a nativity scene, with just one small difference – baby Jesus was replaced by a sausage roll. The ad went viral, with critics denouncing the ad as disrespectful, blasphemous and offensive. Blasphemous or not, it made the world aware of Greggs, so they haven’t entirely lost.

Emotion: The Children’s Hospice – “#FirstChristmas”; This minute-and-a-half video meant to portray the “true meaning of Christmas” certainly pulls at the heartstrings. It depicts a couple who are experiencing their first Christmas since losing their son, and whether you have experienced this type of personal loss or not, it is difficult to watch this advert without being touched.

No matter what hooks you, there is a lesson in marketing that can be found in each of these examples. The trick? Weaving in your brand’s story, in a way that is also appealing, and speaks to, the masses. Need help refining your story, or your brand? info@williamjoseph.com

The Rise of the Ageless Market

Ageless marketing is “marketing based not on age but on the values and universal desires that appeal to people across generational divides. Age-based marketing reduces the reach of brands because of its exclusionary nature. In contrast, ageless marketing extends the reach of brands because of its inclusionary focus.” – David Wolfe

We propose extending this concept one step further by applying the concept of ageless marketing to what has quickly become an ageless society, especially regarding the attitudes and approach of baby boomers.

Throughout history there has been an obsession with staying young; for example, hair dye was invented in 1907 by the founder of L’Oreal. Today it is even more pervasive with the rise of medical procedures, the size and reach of the beauty industry, and the opportunity to share and celebrate youth through social media.  Images on Instagram are of young people curating perfect lives setting an aspirational tone for all ages. In the world of celebrity and the everyday, people are having “work done,” gray hairs are hidden, and fashion trends span across demographics. Marketing is not immune to the trend to stay young and is at the core of capturing the energy and vibrancy of young content.

The generation with the most disregard for age are baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964). They are fighting age every step of the way and do not consider themselves to be old and they most definitely do not want to be shown as old in marketing materials. They are just as interested in the products and trends for millennials as they are in things directly related to them. Baby boomers are also avid trendsetters and followers in their own right.

Within the ageless markets and ageless society, brands must be crafted to reach an older audience without alienating a younger one. Vibrant multi-generational imagery used with the right combination of messaging and tactical approach will make a strong connection. An ageless lifestyle brand will span across ages as multiple generations can picture themselves engaging with the brand now or in the future.

Social media is also influencing the overlap between generations as they are accessing similar content, bridging the gap between their activities and interests.  Parents have never so readily been invited into the private worlds of their children and vice versa. They are sharing their personal experiences, but also preferences for products and services. Baby boomers are working hard to keep up with technology as they do not want to miss out on pictures of grandchildren or the travel and adventures of their friends. They also want to share their own pictures and experiences and are using social media platforms to demonstrate their own youthfulness. While baby boomers are still engaged in traditional media, social media has quickly become a primary vehicle for reaching this group.

In conclusion, playing to the trend of the ageless society by showcasing the youthful vibrancy of baby boomers will enable marketers and brands to reach a wide range of age groups and to harness their collective buying power.

For your next marketing campaign consider an ageless approach – a strong ageless lifestyle brand promoted effectively through social media will have the widest appeal and greatest reach.

AR/VR and Marketing

Technology is changing the world, and as marketers, we must evolve our strategies to be better, to do better, and to make an impact in an world inundated with change. In response to an evolution of the digital world as well as consumer demands for innovation, forward-thinking marketers are revolutionizing digital marketing by using technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to give consumers an innovative and unique brand experience impossible with other mediums. While movies and videos used to be considered the most immersive medium, brands are getting extremely creative, taking advantage of the opportunity to use strategic marketing applications in reality technology to create one-of-a-kind customer experiences.

Virtual Reality is a “computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment, that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.” In layman’s terms, consider virtual reality the use of technology to virtually transport yourself into an artificial world, be it a different city, country or even planet.

Augmented Reality is a “technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.” Remember when Pikachu appeared in your living room, or when Weedle showed up outside that coffee shop when you were playing Pokémon Go? These are the perfect examples of augmented reality.

So, what are the main differences between the two? VR is more of an immersive adventure which often allows consumers to experience a 360-degree view of a different reality that they can interact with. AR, on the other hand, uses the world around consumers and adds in other elements and details (think Snapchat filters).

Airlines have been using AR/VR for years to train staff and simulate everything from landing a plane, to reacting in a turbulent situation. However, immersive experiences through AR and VR are relatively new in marketing, and companies which use VR/AR technology in their marketing efforts are likely to be more memorable. Consumers love new technology, and they especially love experiencing something exciting that few others have. The use of these technologies can offer a “wow” factor,” grabbing attention and making entire consumer groups stop, stand up and take notice. There are currently a relatively small number of companies using these technologies, making it far more likely to be adopted as digital marketing progresses. However, for now, those using it have a competitive advantage, especially considering AR and VR gives consumers a more vivid and tangible feel for products and services than other mediums. While we can expect to see a significant increase in the number of companies using AR/VR in their marketing in the coming years, there are several companies already utilizing these new technologies.

Consider these examples:

The IKEA VR Experience – Have you ever wanted to do a major renovation in your house, but were too scared to make any major changes without seeing what they would look like? IKEA now offers the experience to see any projected renovations and change first-hand through VR technology. Experienced through a VR headset, IKEA structures the VR experience as a virtual visit to an IKEA store, where consumers can explore different areas including kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms that are fully stocked with strategically placed IKEA furniture, appliances and products. This allows consumers to virtually experience a space, viewing how IKEA products would appear in that space, and even use an innovative feature to experience the space from a child’s eye-view.

360-degree Facebook Videos – 360-degree video is a trend that is taking off on popular social networking channels including Facebook. Able to be accessed from a desktop, laptop, smartphone or VR gear, 360-degree videos offer viewers full interaction and immersion in whatever scene is being shown. The best part? Anyone can make their own 360-degree video based on whatever content they can imagine, or to share the experience they are experiencing themselves. Companies can also use 360 videos to immerse consumers in their brand, their event or to share stories and interviews. The sky (and beyond) is really the limit for these videos.

When it comes to marketing, AR/VR is the next great experiential technology, with research house IDC noting the market will surge 100% over each of the next four years. Organizations are presented with the unique opportunity to completely immerse consumers in their products, services, and subsequently, their brand. They can virtually engross consumers in an experience of their creation – something never before possible. Smart marketers will recognize the opportunity in bridging both on- and offline experiences and marketing efforts, and will jump on the AR/VR train.

Changing Behaviour Through Social Marketing

We’ve all seen the advertisements: Don’t litter, do recycle, don’t eat fast food, do eat your vegetables. As consumers, we are constantly inundated with marketing messages telling us what we should and shouldn’t do, all with our own benefit in mind. However, are a few ads really enough to shift our thinking and ultimately change our behaviour? And, if they aren’t, then what is?

Cue the mastery of Social Marketing.

Social marketing, as per the Community Tool Box, a global online resource for those looking to build healthier communities and bring about social change, is “an approach used to develop activities aimed at changing or maintaining people’s behaviour for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole.” Social marketing is a strategy employed by marketers that, when done correctly, can change behaviour – not just how people think about an issue or topic. It is frequently used by non-profit organizations, government organizations, the health-related field as well as marketers to connect with audiences, shift mentality and, overarchingly, to change behaviour. These organizations employ a consumer-centric approach to their strategies to truly understand their audience’s behaviours as a means of identifying how to change them.

At the very core of this marketing strategy is the idea that, as Sustainablebrands.com eludes, the new behaviour should have a seemingly higher value than the current behaviour. There are many different tactics advertisers use to encourage this change. Here are just a few examples:
Emotion: Fear, shame and guilt can prove to be effective triggers in changing behaviour. Think about ‘Stop Smoking’ campaigns, for example, which use scare tactics as a means of getting powerful messages about the negative impacts that smoking can have on life, health and family to consumers. From disturbing images on cigarette cartons to emotion-evoking commercials, these tactics are also employed by other organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), recycling initiatives, health-related non-profits, and so on. A study conducted by Brennan and Binney (2010) found that use of fear and other such emotions to target a group of people can invoke emotions of self-protection and voluntary compliance, whereby people are likely to act if it is in their own best interest. A sample of one commercial can be found here.

Alternatively, positive emotions such as pride, self-confidence and self-worth are common themes in the beauty industry for inspiring change and provoking brand or product adoption. Think of the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, which encourages women of all ages, ethnicities and body types to look at themselves differently. The campaign went viral by relating to the emotions felt by almost every woman at some point in her life. Through consistent messaging, expressive visuals and messaging, as well as strategic consumer targeting, Dove won the hearts of many: Check it out here.

Education: Using education and knowledge as a means of shifting attitudes and changing behaviours is no new concept. As the Guardian (sustainable business) identifies, achieving sustainable behaviour change lies “in understanding your consumer and then using this understanding to offer them an exchange they will value.” We often see this employed with health-related and eco-based organizations and initiatives, such as fitness facilities, specialized health programs, green marketing initiatives, and so on. Using education as a means of changing behaviour can be a challenging feat as social change is not always based on using convincing facts, important information or logic. In fact, more often than not, social marketing digs a bit deeper, connecting with the very emotions of target audiences (which is probably why, in some cases, playing on emotion works better than education).

As Chris Pemberton of Gartner for Marketers discerns, “Increased social activity does not automatically lead to positive business results.” So, what makes for good social marketing?


A well-defined audience

Defining your audience is a key part of social marketing – how can you change behaviour if you don’t know who you want to engage?  Effective social marketing cannot be painted with a broad brush. To be successful, you need to see things from your audiences’ perspective. You need to understand them, how they think, and why they do whatever it is they do. Essentially, they must be clearly defined to best determine how to connect with them based on their motivations, values, social norms, buying habits, and so on.

An emotional approach to building connections

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) indicates that people are not always driven by logical, rational, or coherent internal motivations when it comes to social marketing. Rather, effective social marketing often plays on emotions over an extended period of time, drawing the attention of audience and relating to them by connecting with them and demonstrating a desired behaviour or thought process. Entrepreneur.com describes that authenticity is equally important in social marketing, and that quality over quantity is valued, especially when trying to change behaviour over the long-term.

An effective, consistent strategy

As we mentioned earlier, successful social marketing strategies must have a long-term goal. A consumer-centric approach to strategy, with good communication, a detailed audience analysis and a long-term lens will make for an effective social marketing strategy. As CEPSM advocates, breaking down big behavioural changes into smaller pieces will make efforts more impactful, and increase the long-term sustainability of the changes. While this long-term approach will require more resources than a short-term plan, the results of consistent, on-going messaging prove to be drastically more successful.