SOCIAL MEDIA

IS INFLUENCER MARKETING ALL IT'S CRACKED UP TO BE?

In 2020, the influencer marketing industry is set to reach a whopping 10 billion dollars. A startling 99.3% of businesses who use influencer marketing use Instagram to build and launch their campaigns. But with the rise of major and micro-influencers proliferating on Instagram and elsewhere, is influencer marketing all it’s cracked up to be? For brand awareness, maybe. But when it comes to sales, we don’t think so.

Why has influencer marketing become so popular?

There isn’t a company or marketer alive who hasn’t struggled with creating awareness and driving sales. Often, marketers don’t have enough unique and original content to support all their channels and entertain and inform their audience members. It’s also challenging to foster trustworthiness and brand identity. And with so many brands using online and offline marketing and advertising, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to break through the noise and capture their ideal customer’s attention. Because of these marketing difficulties, influencer marketing quickly became the go-to solution for these problems. But the solutions influencer marketing brings to the table - trustworthiness and attention-grabbing - aren’t necessarily going to result in direct sales.

So, what’s the problem with influencer marketing?

When they first came on the scene, influencers may have been able to build the type of trust that brand’s want to foster with their target audience. But in today’s world where fake bots and large follower counts are often an illusion, influencers are more akin to reality stars than trusted authorities for most consumers. Having thousands, and hundreds of thousands, of followers might be what marketers want to see, but this doesn’t always translate into a sign of trustworthiness for consumers.

Studies and surveys on influencer marketing bear this out. Only 23% of surveyed consumers believe that content and recommendations from celebrities and micro-influencers are in fact, influential. Conversely, 60% of consumers are more apt to trust recommendations and content from their friends and family members. A social influencer, to most consumers, is just another marketer. They are inherently untrustworthy. Consumers are savvy and understand that content from influencers is simply the digital, modern equivalent of paid advertising.

The impact of social influencers is similar to the effects found with native advertising forms. It’s useful for steadily improving soft metrics like awareness and engagement. But when it comes to metrics like sales and conversions, influencer marketing falls short. Companies must understand that influencer marketing does have a place - to build awareness. But when it comes to direct sales? Not so much, and your efforts are more likely to pay off if you focus your marketing efforts elsewhere.

Who are your greatest influencers?

The effectiveness of influencer marketing will vary somewhat depending on your industry and your specific marketing goals. But the prevalence of bots and fake followers has seriously sullied the reputation and effectiveness of influencer marketing when it comes to sales. Your best bet? Get your real customers to recommend your products and services to their family and friends.

TOP 3 REASONS WHY CONSUMERS STILL SHOP RETAIL

Is Retail Still the Place to Be?

85% of purchases are still made at the retail level, in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. But why does this happen when most can agree that shopping online makes life so much easier? Is it because people are still yearning for human interaction? We’ll explore the top three reasons why consumers still choose to go to a brick-and-mortar retail store in 2019, and what this can mean for online businesses.

1. Humans are Tactile

Human beings are naturally tactile creatures, in that they like to be able to touch a product. Some people learn through touch, or bond through touch more so than others. But on the whole, the average consumer enjoys the ability to be able to pick up a product and get a hands-on feel for the texture, weight, and the dimensions of the item.

Women more so than men prefer the tactile shopping experience, while both young and old consumers equally enjoy the physical shopping experience they can get in traditional stores. While online shopping can make the purchasing process quicker, easier, and faster, it will never be able to replace the tactile needs and desires that people have.

2. The Need for Speed

In-store shoppers enjoy the ability to immediately purchase and take their items home with traditional shopping methods. Even super fast, two-day online shipping can’t fulfill this desire that consumers have. Younger consumers and men prefer the ability to take an item home with them from the store immediately. When you order online, you might be waiting for several weeks before you get your item. This desire is probably something that online shopping will never be able to meet.

3. Returns are Easier

In surveys on brick-and-mortar retail versus online shopping, the ability to easily return an item rounds out the top three reasons why consumers like the retail experience. Returns for in-store items are usually more straightforward and faster than a return for an online store. However, some online retailers do not offer a straightforward, quick, or easy way for shoppers to return an item. This is something that could be fixed and optimized for online companies.

Surveys conducted on online shopping versus retail shopping have found that human interaction is at the bottom of the list when it comes to why people may prefer the traditional retail experience. For the most part, consumers want speed and convenience. While on the surface it can seem like online shopping should have this in the bag compared to retail shopping, that’s not always the case.

Online retailers can’t magically make an item appear in a person’s lap as soon as they click the “buy” button on their laptop or mobile device. Likewise, online retailers can’t give consumers a tactile experience of the product. But they can improve the returns process to better compete with brick-and-mortar retailers. While physical stores are still the primary way that people shop, a full 7% of surveyed consumers said that they only shop online. And, that number is expected to continue to grow.

Do you primarily shop online or do you prefer the traditional retail experience? Why or why not? Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

MARKETING TO THE MISSING GENERATION

Millennials are always in the news. Usually, nothing good is ever said about them. In fact, they’re the reason so many industries are dying. Millennials have killed bar soap, Applebee’s, tissues, and they refuse to get married, settle down, or have children. Even the once formidable real estate market is under fire thanks to Millennials.
 
So, in most instances, core Millennials aren’t the best demographic to target anyway. Many members of this generation are struggling to earn enough money for life's basics, let alone have any money set aside for discretionary spending. But fortunately for most businesses, the older end of the Millennial generation and most of Generation X are prime consumers to target in their marketing strategies.

Say Hello to The Missing Generation
Consider the combined older Millennials and Gen X as the missing generation, but a marketing sweet spot for most brands. These buyers are between the ages of 35 and 50, and are referred to as ‘digital pioneers.’ This demographic’s spending power and position in history sets them apart from older and younger consumers.
 
With older consumers, it can be difficult to effectively market to them because they didn't grow up with technology. Most didn’t even pioneer its use. Younger consumers, on the other hand, do not have much buying power. So we're left with the in between/missing generation who understands and uses technology, and has a lot more discretionary spending than their younger counterparts.
 
So, how can a business successfully market to the missing generation?
There are several critical components marketers need to consider when they reach out to the missing generation.

  1. Create messages that appeal to their stage in life. The average age of first-time home buyers has steadily risen since the housing market collapsed. Now, the average age is 32. Most of the missing generation’s members will be homebuyers. Most will also already have children. The older end of the missing generation may have teens at home or no children at home. But, they aren’t quite ready for retirement like older generations. Consider their unique life stage when you market to this demographic.
  2. Don’t coddle or patronize them with tech marketing. Digital pioneers were either super early adopters of technology or were the ones who created it. They know their way around a smartphone. Most probably use Facebook on a daily basis.
  3. Appeal to their nostalgia. While digital pioneers are quite comfortable with technology, they do remember a time before social media and the internet. In fact, many older Millennials and Gen X are nostalgic for their childhoods, when times were simpler. When crafting marketing messages for the lost generation, try to appeal to their sense of nostalgia.
  4. Do not use corporate messaging. Millennials and Gen X are leery of corporate America. The housing crisis shook this generation’s faith in big business and the government. It’s critical that marketers don’t use corporate speak or traditional advertising methods when they try to reach this demographic. Testimonials will appeal more to digital pioneers than corporate messaging.

Marketers have gotten caught up in the heady scramble to catch the attention of younger, tech-savvier consumers. In doing so, they’ve ignored a key demographic that has access to a steady stream of income. So when trying to appeal to members of the missing generation, don’t forget these crucial points.

Meet the First Generation of Digital Natives

The First Generation of Digital Natives.jpg

Born after 1980, the first generation of digital natives has hardly known a time before technology disrupted the way people work, play, and form relationships. The internet was first made available to the public in 1991, and within fifteen years, over 97% of Americans were using it. Information became democratized, which completely changed the world; empowering millions, and terrifying their oppressors.

Those who grew up during this time of rapid and unprecedented technological change learned the ‘digital’ language and now speak it as a first language. This digital language has shaped the way the younger generations find and process information. Instead of newspapers, they read blogs. Instead of paperbacks, they read books on tablets. Picking up the phone and placing a call? Who needs that? This generation would rather text, facetime, or in most cases, catch up with their friends and family via social media.

While close to 75% of U.S. adults use social media, primarily Facebook, on a regular basis, the younger cohort of digital natives use multiple social media platforms every day. The younger members are also shaping the way social media conducts itself. While "older" Americans tend to stick to Facebook on the regular, young digital natives are leery of the breaches in privacy Facebook has a reputation for. They are more likely to engage in social media platforms like SnapChat and Instagram Stories, which allow posts to appear for a set timeframe.

Digital natives are also changing the way Americans consume political news and rally around topics they value. Young people are using the power of social media to share their political views and charged ideas, and are using social media to empower grassroots efforts in their communities. They're using social media to invigorate rotary clubs, leading to a resurgence of civic-mindedness in communities around the country.

Digital natives are also fundamentally changing the way the world views work and career. The freelance and gig economy has exploded in recent years, in part due to the digital revolution. Young people are leading this charge, and many cite the flexibility of these working arrangements made possible by technology and telecommuting, such as Slack, Basecamp and Zoom. Also, this generation has coined the term ‘digital nomad;’ a person who travels the world while working online.

While "older" generations may look askance at the way digital natives conduct their working lives and communicate, it indeed is an exciting and super-efficient time to be alive. Digital natives are taking the disruptive, Wild West nature of the digital revolution and taming it. This generation is and will continue, to completely defy and shape societal and economic expectations. Perhaps they’ll be able to use the power of technology to restore the Arctic ice caps before their children inherit the earth.