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Here’s How Big Data Can Help Hotel Brands Attract More Travelers

Posted July 25, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:40 am

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Getting customers in the door for that first visit is seemingly the most difficult (and definitely the most expensive) endeavor for marketers. Therefore, it is important to segment consumers by hotel category and evaluate their research patterns to understand what makes them tick and better advise how hotel brands can utilize resources, such as big data, in order to personalize the digital content based on interests and personal preferences.

Budget

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Data suggests local research revolving around quick-serve restaurants appeal to budget hotel seekers, so a simple offer for free breakfast or snacks could tip the scales when they are weighing hotel options. We also see our budget hotel seekers researching nearby big box and office supplies stores.

Therefore, messaging around onsite amenities such as business centers, mini-stores or complimentary conveniences that solve last minute needs for business or leisure can really add a thoughtful touch for the budget traveler. In addition to business and leisure, people moving or relocating to different areas also fall within the budget seekers segment. Knowing this ahead of time certainly helps the budget hotelier make their guests feel right at home for an extended stay.

Luxury

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The luxury hotel traveler seeks exotic locations to celebrate milestones and occasions, such as honeymoons. These upscale events offer significant insight to hoteliers on what type of atmosphere these types of travelers are looking for. Luxury-seeking travelers have the highest interest of any group in healthy eating and living, with added emphasis on special diets or exercise. Hoteliers would benefit from a marketing focus on quality ingredient sourcing and menu customization within their restaurants and onsite fitness options.

Luxury groups display interest in local art and culture and a general desire for a boutique experience that is representative of the region they are staying in. Including local art, beer and wine or music into the experience resonates well with these types of travelers, who are heavily influenced by the aesthetics and overall experience provided by the hotel as primary reasons for booking in the first place.

Midscale

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The midscale hotel seeker class contains a definitive mix of business and leisure travelers, with a heavy interest in conferences and events for the business crowd and with family vacation packages and vacation home rentals skewing high for leisure travelers.

Business travel shows no signs of slowing down and is projected to grow by more than 6 percent in 2018, according to Deloitte. With our business travel research indicating interest in rental cars, dry cleaning and local spots for drinks and cocktails, personalizing the experience for business travelers can include bundling rental cars or other transport to their conferences, promoting tailoring or cleaning services onsite or offering them an opportunity to mingle with other business travelers over a free drink at the hotel bar or restaurant.

Midscale leisure traveler themes can include trips to family-oriented destinations such Universal Studios, Disney World and Disneyland in addition to vacation themes based around activities like beach trips, desert or mountains. Family travelers are drawn to bundled packages around activities for each family member so that harmony and buy-in can be achieved (any parent will tell you that the kids have as much said as they do).

Activities such as dining and nightlife, golf and spa, gaming and outdoor adventure activities such as hiking, biking or boating are all of interest to the midscale hotel traveler and offer broad appeal across generations. In order to connect with this group of consumers, hoteliers are encouraged to partner with local groups and organizations that offer these activities.

Wrapping Up

Hotels offer many things to many people, but big data can be a great lens into what moves each type of traveler from inspiration to action. After all, every lifelong hotel visitor starts with a first stay.

 

(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)

Filed under: Brand Marketing

Design Your Website for More Engaging User Experience

Posted July 24, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:36 am

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When designing a website, put yourself in the user’s shoes. What you find ineffective in a website is something users will likely find ineffective themselves. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, in 2015, the attention span of humans averaged 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. For website designers, this study is significant, in the sense that eight seconds is all you initially have to make site visitors understand your value proposition and convince them to stay on your site. More than that, and the chances of them being distracted skyrockets. So how do you make your website compelling enough to make them not want to leave? Here are some important points to remember when designing the website.

Create a Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

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In the content-saturated world of the Internet, every opportunity spawns the need to differentiate oneself. Creating a great first impression is key, but making the customer realize that what you offer merits their full attention is equally important.

A value proposition is a primary thing that determines whether users leave or stay on your site. It’s a statement that clearly explains how your product or service solves their pain points, its specific benefits, and why they should buy from you instead of your competitors. Some things to bear in mind when communicating your UVP:

Location

Eye tracking research shows that above-the-fold elements attract the most attention. Eyetrack III studies also found that the upper left of the page is where the eyes often fixate first before going left to right, then further down the page.

While these studies justify why website designers insist on positioning the site’s most important elements above the fold, there is absolutely no reason to cram everything you deem necessary on just this part of the page. You don’t want the top half of your website looking chaotic, or the overall usability of the page undermined.

Users’ attention is more difficult to capture now than it used to, mainly because of the sheer amount of content available on the Internet for them to peruse. That said, the items you include above the fold must communicate a clear and well-defined value proposition, as opposed to cramming what you think is important down users’ throats by littering the area with too many elements. Give them one tidbit of information to digest one at a time, and if they think this information is worth researching more about, they will stay on your page to find out more.

Visual Illustration

Harnessing the power of visual information is a primary ingredient in connecting with your audience. This is anchored to the fact that our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than plain text.

Add short attention spans into the mix, and the “show, don’t tell” argument becomes all the more compelling. Provide users with visuals like images, graphs, infographics, screenshots and video clips instead of big blocks of text. These allow them to process your message more quickly and retain more valuable information.

Another thing – although effective, adding visuals to your website comes with a caveat: they must support your value proposition and the audience’s perceived expectations. Otherwise, it may call into question your site’s integrity.

Unique Content

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As more and more content becomes available online, marketers find it increasingly difficult for their brands to connect. In fact, according to eMarketer, 41% of marketers struggle to come up with conversion-worthy content.

There’s the so-called 10X content, content that, as its name suggests, is 10 times better than what the search engines provide for a certain keyword. If you create content that answers everything a user can possibly ask about a topic, you’re shortening their research time, ultimately creating a positive experience for them. Among the characteristics of 10X content is the melding of aesthetics and utility, as well as providing great visuals while solving your customers’ problems.

White Space

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A cluttered website is hard on the eyes and confuses the brain. However, adding white space between paragraphs and in the margins has proven to increase comprehension by 20%.

While the layout of a webpage, including white space, may not measurably influence performance, it does influence user satisfaction and experience. Different web design elements affect the moods of users. Positive or negative is entirely up to you.

According to top website designers, having a white space is essential for lead generation because it minimizes confusion and reduces the effort required on the reader’s end, helping them navigate the website easily.

Call To Action (CTA)

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Call-to-action buttons should go beyond being attractive and fitting the overall design of the website. After all, their main purpose is to get your visitors to do something, such as download an ebook, sign up for a free trial, subscribe to a newsletter, and so on.

You don’t have to put CTAs above the fold. Rather you can place them in the middle or bottom of the page to avoid being aggressive with visitors. Other suggestions include using action-packed words, such as “try” or “download,” and the first-person speech to increase conversions.

Clarity of CTAs is also extremely important. Their message should explicitly convey what the visitor could expect to accomplish. If users fail to get what you mean, they’ll leave.

 

(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)

Filed under: Brand Marketing

New Into Content Marketing? Take Lessons from Netflix

Posted July 23, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:45 am

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If there’s any content marketing prodigy that you should pay particular attention to, it’s Netflix. Very few companies have led the spawn of an entire industry, and still managed to stay ahead of the curve. The streaming video service closed 2016 with 93.8 million subscribers, up nearly 20 million from the year prior.

Its strategy is very tactical, and it plans to keep it that way. Have you ever heard the company publicly speak to its methods of exposure? Netflix is extremely covert in the area of marketing; you’d almost think it’s Magic Leap.

Even if you’re not in the media business, there’s a lot to learn about how Netflix approaches to content and goes about amassing an audience. It is an excellent example of content marketing leveraging its product, data, and social media. Here are some vital takeaways every content marketer can learn from Netflix.

Build The Experience Through Standalone Products

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Seemingly, Netflix doesn’t place the most value in traditional marketing. Its approach is much more innovative, even to the extent of creating standalone products to extend the experience of a new show. In the era of 360 video and artificial intelligence, no idea is too large. Netflix is not afraid of walking this line and more often than not, it provides a tremendous return on investment.

For example, Netflix recently commissioned the third season of the highly touted Black Mirror, which explores the scary possibilities of technology. To promote the show, Netflix actually created the app Rateme that was the conflict and downfall of the first episode of the season. It did something similar with a Stranger Things web tool, which allows users to create content with the show’s font. Also on the list are Netflix socks, among other consumer products that make light of the culture of its dedicated audience.

Content is not distinct from the confines of an article or a video. Many times, content marketing is a product or a standalone experience that gets the conversation going and creates the opportunity for the audience to get involved in the show’s universe.

Invest In Original Content

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Netflix invests in original content so much that it can almost market itself. Entrepreneurs and marketers specifically should learn to invest effort and finances into the kinds of content that have proven successful with their audience.

In the last three months of 2016, Netflix added 1.43 million new U.S. paying subscribers. In 2017, Netflix plans to spend nearly $6 billion on content. For context, ESPN spent $ 7.6 billion on content in 2016.

Data Is Certainly The Differentiator

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We all know data matters, but are you sure you’re leveraging the right metrics? Netflix uses data to predict behavior and to help create a better experience, ultimately inspiring a lot of its marketing.

Inside the product, Netflix tracks your browsing behavior; what time you watch content; when you pause, rewind or fast-forward; and what kind of content is viewed on which day. Using this data to understand consumer behavior, it can both suggest the right content in the product that makes you stick around longer, as well as adjust its marketing content to fit your interests.

Netflix used big data to promote House of Cards. User behavior was very much the deciding factor on its series rollout of marketing collateral.

Before a series is released, there are typically one or two trailers made to build the buzz. For House of Cards, Netflix made 10 different cuts of the trailer and served you a trailer based on your previous viewing behavior. If you watched a lot of Kevin Spacey, you saw the trailer that included more of his scenes. If you happened to actively rate and suggest David Fincher’s work as a director, you were shown a different trailer.

Through Netflix’s algorithms, it can determine who might be interested in new shows and can cater content that will be best received, according to its data. How are you using data to steer your marketing content for better engagement?

Netflix’s success in original programming is not by accident; its data having a large influence on its content marketing is a technique we should all mimic.

Help Virality Happen

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There’s so much talk about “going viral,” but do we ever explore the science behind it? Netflix has a knack for catching virality, and it stems from making content easily shareable and having a consistent and honest brand voice.

Netflix is known to provide content that pairs well with social media, helping insert itself into everyday conversations. The takeaway is you need to encourage virality.  Help your content get to the tweetosphere and allow it to literally be a part of the conversations your audience is having. Their brand voice has also added to Netflix’s visibility across the internet. It’s mastered the tone of voice and it’s done numbers on social.

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With such an authentic and conversational voice, Netflix established a tone that creates a loyal fan base that will actively engage with their content.  Its best performing content just involves a bit of its swag rather than a big announcement. It should compel marketers to plan for content that gets people excited enough to head to your owned channels.

Netflix is a dominating force, and much of its success is attributed to its approach to content marketing. Its unconventional methods are the forward-thinking techniques we should all adapt to build a dedicated audience.

 

(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)

Filed under: Digital

Influencer Marketing Is Becoming a Potent Weapon for Brands

Posted July 18, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:14 am

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Brands are investing more of their time and money into influencers. According to a research conducted by Bloglovin, it is seen that 63 percent of marketers have increased their budgets for influencer marketing in 2017. This increase in budgets suggests that brands understand the value of influencer marketing and how they can leverage it to boost their performance.

But how exactly does influencer marketing help brands? With the massive followings of influencers, the obvious benefit is that they help brands reach a bigger audience. Besides this, there are several more reasons why influencers have become such a powerful weapon for brands.

They Leverage Authentic Storytelling to Engage Your Target Audience

Influencers are able to engage their fans by being their true selves. They express themselves through authentic and engaging content, which their followers look to for inspiration. And according to TapInfluence, 71.2 percent of influencers feel that their honesty and sense of humor is what keeps their audience engaged.

This is perhaps why influencers are so good at creating authentic content about the brand they promote. The TapInfluence study also found that the biggest benefit of influencer marketing is that it helps tell an authentic story around their brand. 89 percent of marketers in a Linqia study also feel the same way about influencer marketing.

This authenticity keeps an audience engaged even when it comes to promotional content created by influencers. And an engaged audience is much easier for brands to win over and convert to paying customers.

They Improve Brand Sentiment

Brands always strive to win the hearts of consumers and create a positive brand image. So it’s no wonder they work with influencers to promote their brands because influencers can increase positive brand sentiment. According to a RhythmOne study, influencer marketing programs that lasted for two or more weeks resulted in an 8.73 percent lift in positive brand sentiment.

You will be able to experience this benefit more effectively if you invest in influencers who genuinely believe in the product. This genuine positive sentiment the influencers have towards your brand can help portray your brand personality in a positive light.

They Drive A Higher Return On Investment

Another major benefit of influencer marketing is the return on investment it is able to yield. 54 percent of marketers in the Bloglovin’ study use influencer marketing to grow their social media following and engagement. 53 percent use it to drive more sales, while 47 percent use it to drive traffic to their websites.

Other than that, 71 percent of marketers in the study felt that influencer marketing helps them raise brand awareness on social media. 67 percent have stated that it helps them reach a more targeted audience. But these are not the only reasons why brands are leveraging influencers for their marketing campaigns.

The RhythmOne study found that influencer marketing delivers high returns in terms of earned media value. This is the value attributed to factors such as social sharing and publicity as well as other forms of organic digital media exposure. Influencer marketing helped advertisers generate $11.69 in EMV for every dollar they spend.

Wrapping Up

It’s clear to see that there are several reasons why brands are choosing to use influencer marketing as a weapon to overcome marketing challenges and get ahead of their competitors. Through authenticity, influencers help brands engage their target audience and then deliver higher returns in earned media value.

Filed under: Brand Marketing

Surviving the Digital Transformation Through Creatives – Here’s How

Posted July 17, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:52 am

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Digital transformation, while two steps forward for marketing and mankind, has been arguably a giant step back for brands. The seismic cultural shift initiated by digital media and personal devices opened the door for an explosion of new entertainment channels, technologies and consumption behaviors. But it also meant increased media fragmentation and the loss of a controlled, linear consumer journey. So while opportunities to create compelling and innovative content have grown exponentially – so has competition for consumer attention. If you’re intrigued by the possibilities of digital transformation, here how you can survive it through engaging creatives.

Open Your Mind To Newer Ideas

Today’s workforce is packed with creative technologists, consultants, business strategists and inventors whose days are spent thinking up new ways to innovate alongside clients in the fast-moving age of digital transformation. And let’s agree: They’re extremely good at it. The world around us is an innovation lab and, as a creative, you’ll have to get used to the fact that everyone around you is pitching an idea that could become the next big thing.

Learning On The Go

Commit to increasing your depth as a specialist, while gaining perspective and context about the world around you. This education-based tactic is a big part of how we can apply design thinking to the digital world. There are teams that are competing for the client’s trust and attention and are jam-packed with individuals who possess highly specialized knowledge (e.g., mobile cloud strategy), understand how their expertise plays into overarching customer experience and adeptly apply those skills inside industries we serve (e.g., global automotive). Companies like Airbnb, Netflix, Uber and their contemporaries have made a huge impact on our perception of possibility inside this brave new world.

 

Their innovation opened our minds, brought the convenience of choice to our lives and brilliantly illustrated the basics of digital transformation—its processes and potential. The businesses at the forefront of that tectonic shift are now the fabric of our everyday expectations. We’re more demanding and empowered and less patient than ever before. And those demands accelerate every time we experience the magical comingling of creativity and technology. There are no rules for how to transform successfully, but creatives have a unique perspective on how to move and inspire people—a key role, as our relationship with technology dramatically influences the next chapter of human history.

Business Has Always Been About Inspiring People

While creativity finds new mediums and avenues for expression, the most beautiful trend in digital transformation is our renewed focus on humanity. The convergence of technology, data, and creativity provide boundless opportunity to improve people’s lives. Through continued focus on brand purpose, empathy and two-way conversation inside innovation, we elevate everyday experiences and benefit from deeper, more personal engagement. Even more, than we want a great product or service, we long to be drawn into the magic of a powerful story, the shared ethos of a community and the beauty of artistic expression. In a thrilling shift for creatives, human beings and our values are beginning to overtake technology as the focus of digital transformation.

Filed under: Brand Marketing

5 Ways To Collect Meaningful Customer Data

Posted July 16, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:39 am

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Understanding your customer better isn’t as complex as you might think, but it does require a thoughtful analysis of where and how you can collect meaningful data. By better defining which aspects of their behavior or profiles are most significant to your business, you can start to measure and analyze better ways to engage them and ultimately sell more. Here are some important areas of customer data that you must look to clean up or improve in order to reach your customers better.

1. Key Factors That Set Your Customers Apart

Everyone has different customer types. Not all customers are created equal. Identify what key factor(s) set one apart from another and segment your users from one another. It could be geography; it could be specific products they buy or it could be a demographic detail. Once you understand that, you are better able to target messaging, develop product and drive value for both the customer and your business.

2. Customers’ Real-Time Behavior

To understand your customers better, you have to get greater insight into how they actually behave. Surveys are fine and generalizations drawn from basic demography are still important, but businesses today need to gather as much data as possible on the way that customers are behaving in real time.

 

How long are they staying on your site? What links are they clicking? What triggers them to share your content on social media? What are they uploading or downloading and at what times? The holy grail that Big Data seeks to discover in industries of all shapes and sizes is needed anticipation. The businesses that are ahead today are the ones who can harvest, blend and analyze real-time customer data to identify patterns and predict customer needs before they’re even aware of them themselves.

3. Customer Service Records

When people call to return products, get more information and the like, it is the perfect opportunity to ask them a few questions about what they like/dislike, how they found you and how they are using their product or service. Have a list of questions on hand for your customer service representatives and make them use it!

4. Referral Source

Many times on a sales call you are busy tracking all the information about the client that is relevant to them closing a sale, but you forget to track the referral source of the lead. Without the referral source, it’s hard to understand how you can better reach your customers because you don’t have clear data about where your existing customers are coming from.

5. Personal Tastes and Preferences

By specializing in collecting data about consumers’ tastes and preferences, you can use this consumer intelligence to create content that resonates with your users. In particular, you can use aggregated statistics about your customers to provide information that’s more engaging than any other content types.

 

We love to keep our members as part of the conversation on Instagram, for example, by using the information they provide in real time to spark conversations about the newest trends. For instance, we can say that “Seventy-five percent of you love metallic nails,” provide a captivating image of the newest metallic nail art trends from fashion week and provide entertaining content for users grounded in their interests. Look for opportunities to create a feedback loop with your customers using data.

 

Filed under: Advertising

Keep Up With the Ever-Changing Digital Age? Here’s How

Posted by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:33 am

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Today’s global CMOs, regardless of sector, are facing the same challenge: digital transformation. New technologies are entering the market at lightning speed, and disruptors are springing up and challenging entire categories. As a result, traditional marketing organizations need to always be thinking two steps ahead, which can be difficult to do while trying to run a global marketing team and keep up with the evolving ecosystem.

The rapid integration of digital into nearly every aspect of marketing has completely changed the way marketers interact with their consumers and their agencies as well as other functions within their own organizations. Here are some things CMOs can do to keep pace with the changes while keeping their sanity intact.

Embrace Marketing Automation

Proving the value of marketing has never been an easy task. But in recent years, with the addition of ridiculous amounts of data and constantly-emerging marketing channels, proving value has become a bit of a nightmare. Add to this the fact that most CMOs are not techies – they’re simply people who have been forced into situations where they have to figure everything out or else. This is why it’s important for CMOs to embrace marketing automation tools that make it easy to read and share data. Better customer insights lead to better marketing outcomes.

Hire Those With Skills You Don’t Have

A lot of CMOs cut their marketing teeth during a time when digital was something “out there” that was taking place. But now digital is happening front and center and in their very own department. This means few CMOs have the skills necessary to constantly adapt, which means they need to hire marketers who can fill in that skills gap. They need to hire people who are proficient in using today’s technologies, can analyze mounds of data while constantly thinking strategy.

Finding marketers who wear multiple hats may become a trial, especially for those brands not located in major metropolitan areas. The next best bet is to create specialty teams who collaborate with each other. For instance, you may develop a “content center” whose team members are ninjas when it comes to creating and distributing content. You may also have a “marketing technology” team that specializes in testing and selecting the right tools and channels for distribution.

Think Like a Publisher

Back in the day, when you heard the word content, you tended to think of PDFs and brochures. But today’s consumers expect more. Today’s CMOs have to be in the publishing business and distribute content that is relevant and consistent across all channels. (Oh, and it has to educate as well. When you educate an audience, they tend to trust you more.) All of this is to say that CMOs need to stop thinking of themselves as CMOs and instead think of themselves as publishers whose goal is to use data to create integrated, meaningful experiences for their audience.

CMOs Must Coordinate Teams Efficiently

It is not uncommon, even for smaller, local businesses, to have parts of their marketing team located in another city, state, or even country. One of the biggest challenges for CMOs in this situation is to make sure all of these dispersed team members are working as a cohesive unit. This requires ensuring everyone is regularly communicating and sharing data, insights, and content. CMOs also must be able to be the voice of the translator that serves as a go-between of what a company does and what a customer needs.

This requires understanding the product roadmap while keeping your finger on the pulse of your customers’ needs and demands – always listening to those digital conversation taking place ‘out there.’ With all of these demands, it’s easy to see why some CMOs have trouble sleeping at night. But by following these guidelines, they can rest easy while proving their value.

 

Filed under: Brand Marketing

Social Responsibility Is Changing Creative in the Wake of Digital Transformation

Posted July 10, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:58 am

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Digital transformation is forcing the hand of businesses everywhere. Adapt or die seems to be most modern companies’ mantra in today’s cutthroat world. If they aren’t proactive at responding to changing technologies, social behaviors and the ingenious marketing campaigns of the competition, they’ll end up in the recycling bin.

The Changing Game

Technology has always been the great enabler. Just look at the Industrial Revolution. Nowadays advancements are leapfrogging at accelerating speed because modern technology is powered by software. Digital technology leveled the playing field. Now competition comes from unexpected places. Upstart companies with bold business models move fast, ship often and design for customers first. And they’re gaining market from the big boys.

Impact on Customer Economy

People behave differently too and are doing new things because of digital technology. They use digital products and services in unexpected ways. With powerful capabilities, they now communicate with each other and with the companies that serve their needs and interests. They chat privately with friends, send messages to public groups, and reach strangers around the world. They share their opinions in online reviews, tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos. They’re discerning and not afraid to wield their choice. They seek products and services that add value to their lives, and they want them from companies they believe are fair, genuinely care, and demonstrate social and environmental responsibility.

Digital Revolution Equals Customer Revolution

There’s no way to predict how the digital revolution will play out. Every industry will be disrupted, probably sooner than we think. Adapting to this reality is the most urgent challenge facing business leaders today—how to sense the oncoming change and emerging opportunity then respond to it rapidly and effectively?

The companies thriving amidst the volatility and uncertainty don’t move at an annual pace. They’ve adapted to harness continuous change. They sense instantly, respond in real time, and innovate continuously at startup speed. Every day they try out new things in the market, observe people’s behavior, measure the effect and adjust quickly. In return, customers get to experience new offerings as they evolve, and vote with their wallets. These companies are having an ongoing conversation with customers, employees, partners, and stakeholders that are rich with information about creating customer value. They don’t have strict plans. Instead, they’re learning their way forward.

Contrast this with incumbents who must protect their core business for as long as possible. Who, for a while, manage to make enhancements through localized digitization efforts but, despite facing the continuous threat of disruption, inevitably succumb to the pressure to deliver higher share prices in the short term. Financial engineering wins out over refreshed customer value creation. These established companies rarely get the chance to sustain a longer-term effort to create fertile ground for future growth engines. Unlike Amazon with its ambidextrous strategy rooted firmly in its organizational culture, they can’t execute today’s business while also cultivating the business models for tomorrow that will disrupt their market and even their own business.

Grand Challenges And The Greater Good

Disruption is all the rage. When its impact is positive for society as a whole, disruption is a good thing. Rather than looking for markets to disrupt, we must look for the human endeavors we can empower with digital technology. This is a greater good than just getting one up on the competition.

Today’s grand challenges and wicked problems need more than clever code. They need a different approach. One that embraces change and enables continuous experimentation. One that’s inclusive and sees entrepreneurs, design thinkers and creative technologists collaborating with industry experts and customers, cancer clinicians or climate scientists, to reimagine what’s possible and do the remarkable.

Quantified Outcomes

It’s difficult to predict what the market needs yet projects are still planned as if we know exactly what’s going to work. Projects are managed by specifying the outputs or deliverables, which are nearly always features. This stops us adapting to what’s being learned. Businesses must shift from delivering the outputs they think are needed to realizing the business outcomes they want. They must declare those outcomes in a way they can be measured, and give teams the freedom to try different approaches, experiment, and learn how to get there given constraints like time and cost.

Inclusive Collaboration

Mobile-first apps with their gesture-driven customer experiences, industrialized digital platforms, and the API economy are ushering in complexities that require us to collaborate like never before. Digital ventures need agile teams that are more cross-functional than ever before. One dedicated team of designers, developers and digital workers of all kinds; entrepreneurs, business stakeholders, domain experts. Businesses must encourage them to bring all their courage, curiosity and creativity to the table, and have continuous conversations with users and customers to understand unexpressed and unmet needs and determine the market demand.

Learning Culture

To be able to sense and respond, people must be learning all the time. To understand customer behaviors and the data they generate everyone must develop the new universal skills of customer listening, empathy, assessment, and dialog. Learning needs a culture of openness and humility that supports curiosity, welcomes other ideas, and respects the skills, strengths, and humanity of fellow collaborators. It must give permission to fail, embrace the willingness in people to admit they don’t know the answer, and celebrate their eagerness to go find it.

Wrapping Up

Agile practices enable product teams to make small changes in an ongoing way, continuously sensing the performance from customers and responding with successive adjustments, be they new features, business rules, pricing, marketing language, support policies, or anything else that contributes to business success. The core principles underlying agile methods have fundamentally changed planning to leverage continuous learning—listen rather than predict, make a credible guess, get feedback in nearly real time, then adjust the plan. Similarly, Innovation Accounting and Beyond Budgeting have changed how to budget. It’s no longer affordable to make commitments a year in advance when every day there are new things being learned. This changes how digital products and services are marketed and sold.

Filed under: Company Headlines

Leading Sports Brands Are Now Paying Attention to Female Fans. Here’s Why

Posted July 9, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 3:49 am

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For years, athletic products for women were simply designs for men in smaller sizes and more feminine colors. For many companies, women haven’t been the main focus — or even taken into account at all — when products, retail experience, and marketing messages were being created.

In 2016, US apparel sales grew by 3 percent, reaching $218.7 billion, according to data compiled by the NPD Group. Athleisure continued to be a top growing segment that year, with an 11 percent increase that made it a $45.9 billion market. Including women in the sportswear, the conversation comes at a time when they account for a significant share of all buying decisions. A 2013 Nielsen report reveals that American women alone wield $5 trillion to $15 trillion in purchasing power annually.

Of the more than 11,000 athletes who took part in the 2016 Rio Olympics, 45 percent were women. It’s a far cry from the first modern Olympics 120 years ago in Athens, where all 241 athletes were men. There are also more women identifying as sports fans. On average, across 24 major countries representing the Americas, Europe, and Asia, nearly half of all women now declare themselves either interested or very interested in sport compared to 69 percent of men.

Many businesses have taken heed. Mainstream sportswear players like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour now feature women in their marketing campaigns and are developing lines that women want to wear. But is it too late? As more women buy into the sportswear sector, more brands are competing for a place in the market and there is greater access to affordable, trend-led athletic gear at the likes of Asos and Amazon. There is also competition from women-focused activewear brands like Lululemon and Sweaty Betty, as well as newer rivals like Ultracor and Outdoor Voices.

Speaking To The Female Athlete

For International Women’s Day in March, Nike — which is currently the market leader in both men’s and women’s activewear according to NPD — launched three films, in the Middle East, Russia and Turkey, aimed at challenging gender stereotypes in each region.

In 2015, Nike announced ambitious plans to hit $50 billion in sales by 2020 — and the women’s business is a massive opportunity. The Oregon-based company pushed its marketing spend to $804 million in 2016, an increase of 10 percent year on year, with a focus on its women’s offering, which it plans to grow into an $11 billion business by 2020.

For Autumn/Winter 2017, Under Armour debuted “Unlike Any”, an entirely digital execution featuring six female athletes across a variety of sports, including ballerina Misty Copeland, stuntwoman Jessie Graff, and champion sprinter Natasha Hastings.

According to the NPD Group, Under Armour commands 7.1 percent of the men’s activewear space in the US and 3.8 percent of women’s this year through May. The women’s business currently accounts for around $1 billion of Under Armour’s $4.8 billion revenue.

Adidas, too, has released female-centric campaigns over the past year. In February, the athletic brand launched a global campaign called “Unleash Your Creativity”, which tells the stories of 15 women athletes, including supermodel Karlie Kloss, fitness influencer Hannah Bronfman, and fitness instructor Robin Arzon. This is a stark change in strategy for the German brand, which, through its 97-year history, has partnered with the biggest sports stars who were almost always male, like Jesse Owens, Derrick Rose, and David Beckham.

The increased female focus is part of Adidas’ strategy to double its share of the female sporting goods market by 2020. In an investor address in March 2017, board member Eric Liedtke said that the company is “not happy where we are today” when it comes to its position in the women’s market, which represented 23 percent of Adidas’ revenue in 2016. He vowed to lift that proportion to 28 percent within four years.

Combining Style With Versatility

Mainstream sportswear players also need to focus on creating products and services specifically designed for women. More women are buying into the sportswear sector as they prioritize self-transformation and wellness. In 2016 alone, the global market for health and wellness reached £539 billion (about $732 billion) and is expected to grow by a further 17 percent by 2021 to £640 billion ($869 billion), according to Euromonitor International. What’s prompted the shift in attitudes? A blend of social media and a growing consciousness about the importance of physical health.

Marketing to women doesn’t mean excluding men, but it does mean excluding stereotypes. Following an immensely popular sports bra campaign last July, featuring plus-size model Paloma Elsesser, Nike has expanded its plus-size offering with the “Black and White” collection, a range of fashion-forward shorts, tops, bras and leggings, which are designed to fit and flatter larger women.

Meanwhile, Adidas has been designing more sneakers, jackets and other garments specifically for women’s sport. The brand recently unveiled the Pure Boost X sneaker, with motion-tracking technology that studies the movement of the female foot.

Upgrading The Store Experience

Sportswear brands are also taking the retail experience into account. According to data from Euclid, which works with retail businesses to make data-driven decisions, 65 percent of women prefer shopping in-store to e-commerce, as it is easier to try clothes and receive personalized recommendations. Only 55 percent of men feel the same way.

Nike currently operates several women’s only-stores worldwide: in Shanghai, Newport Beach and London. In February 2017, Adidas launched a women-only fitness studio in London, where certified personal trainers, fitness influencers, and Adidas ambassadors host free workout sessions.

Brands are in danger of being viewed as superficial at best and condescending at worst. It’s one thing to create high-performing products for the female customer, but it’s an entirely different challenge to get her attention and create a brand that speaks her language. Nowadays, newer brands being born every day in the athleisure space. Even celebrities have gotten in on the action with their own brands. But the opportunity is still great. Women of different types of fitness levels are looking for a different kind of apparel for their fitness needs.

 

(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)

Filed under: Brand Marketing

Getting Started With Audio Marketing? Here’s How

Posted July 6, 2018 by Abhishek Pandey @ 4:54 am

Image result for Audio Marketing

The written word always has its place in content marketing. However, adding audio and visual content can elevate your ad to even better heights. Nowadays, live video marketing is one of the forerunners in the content marketing scene while audio content is being increasingly consumed across demographics in new and innovative ways. According to Statista forecasts that audio and spend could grow from 28.4 billion to 31.7 billion U.S. dollars between 2010 and 2020. As we enter 2018, here are some tips to add audio marketing content to your content strategy.

Podcasting

Podcasts aren’t new, but their popularity is growing steadily thanks primarily to their convenience factor. Plus, there are still so many niches and industries without relevant podcasts. According to Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP of Marketing and Host of The Growth Show, HubSpot, “Marketing is about being where your prospective customers are, good marketing is about being there and adding something of value.” Furthermore, Anderson commented that her organization understood that more and more of their users were consuming audio content.

Webinars

Webinars are powerful customer and prospect engagement mediums that deserve to be experimented with. You can think of a webinar as an online presentation or show which can be used to demonstrate products or services, host a Q&A or even have a roundtable discussion. With webinars, the user is able to learn how to get more out of the tool, and, in return, businesses get more active users. There is no point in selling anything during the session, as there is no conversion in a traditional sense. Rather, the idea is to bring value to the spectator and to solve his or her problem. Therefore, you can bring reputable experts to your webinars, to take one step towards brand loyalty. Likewise, while webinars are primarily visual mediums, audio-only webinars do exist, and audio content can easily be extracted and reused elsewhere.

Anchor App

The anchor is a growing iOS and Android app that is steadily attracting podcasters and radio station hosts. With it, you can record and manage a station with ethereal audio content that expires after twenty-four hours. You can also archive content before it expires, which turns it into a podcast with episodes that are always available to your audience. Anchor content — or “Waves” — can also be accessed via smart home assistants, or via in-vehicle interfaces. Anchor also provides a service that enables you to set up a podcast on popular podcasting platforms like iTunes and Google Play using your archived Anchor content. Lifehacker has taken advantage of this service, launching their Anchor-native podcast.

Alexa Skills

As the popularity of Amazon’s line of Echo products increases, the nifty Alexa Skill needs less and less of an introduction. In essence, they’re apps that function through audio commands made to your Amazon Echo device. Therefore, you can leverage Alexa skills to create a list of signals that can help users to reach out to your business, when in need. All they have to do is say their name and your company name to their Alexa-powered device and you can get notified via Slack. It’s also worth noting that while Alexa Skills are currently the most popular smart home assistant apps, Google Home and Apple Homepod equivalents will also be big players in 2018 and beyond.

Audiograms

Audiograms make audio content easier to share across social media and give some vibrancy to your content that would otherwise give listeners nothing to look at as they listen. WNYC, the radio and podcast station enjoys the use of audiograms, releasing their own audiogram generator which is free and accessible via Github. The station published a Medium post shortly after making their tool public, stating that their Twitter research shows that the average engagement level for an audiogram is “8x higher than a non-audiogram tweet.” On Facebook, they are seeing some audiograms outperform photos and links by 58 percent and 83 percent respectively.

Voice Search

According to Comscore, 50 percent of all web searches will be voice searches by 2020, and that’s again thanks in part to smart home assistants as well as smart virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana. Voice search optimization has thus emerged as a way for brands to ensure that, when consumers ask Siri about a question, it’s their web page that pops up with the best answer. The renowned SEO company Yoast has laid out some foundations for a voice search optimization, explaining that content writers should take into account the “Five W’s” when writing content intended for voice searches: The five Ws encompass the five primary ways humans ask questions when it comes to searching with their voice; who, what, when, where, why and how.

 

(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)

Filed under: Brand Marketing
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