marketing

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.

10 WAYS TO KILL A BRAND

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Companies will spend a lot of time and money on creating an effective branding strategy. But mistakes can, and often do happen during this crucial phase. Here’s our guide on the worst things you can do to kill your brand and how to avoid them. Now these might seem like nothing new, but it doesn't hurt to have a refresher.

1. Using Poor Quality Visuals
Or worse - no visuals at all. Pictures are more memorable than words, and humans tend to think in pictures. Attention spans are getting smaller and smaller, so make sure to invest in something that connects with the visual thinker.

2. Inconsistent Branding
Your company needs to use the same name, logo, and tagline across multiple mediums and channels, both inside and outside the business. The name on your sign for your brick-and-mortar location? It has to be same as what’s on your business cards and website. Keep it consistent, invest in brand guidelines.

3. No Employee Training
Your employees are walking, talking advertisements for your company. Train them well on how to be effective ambassadors for your company. Implement a Brand 101 course with monthly courses to ensure your message is being properly conveyed.

4. Not Tracking Marketing Efforts
Each time a new customer contacts your company, it’s a good idea to have your employees ask them how they found out about your brand. Keep a master list of these answers to inform where you should focus your future marketing efforts.

5. Not Leveraging Word-of-Mouth Advertising
Your previous clients and customers are your greatest marketing assets. Use their testimonials and quote them in your ads and brochures. A real, authentic voice might be just the validation someone needs to click the buy button.

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6. Using Old Marketing Materials
Many small businesses will make this mistake. They invest heavily in a brochure or sales letter, order thousands of copies, and then use the material for many years until it’s all gone. The marketing quickly goes stale. Instead, order smaller increments of marketing materials, and refresh them frequently with new content and mediums.

7. Confusing Consumers with Too Many Choices
We get it; you’re a jack of all trades. But that doesn’t mean you need to advertise as such. Instead, focus on a core offering and build your branding strategy around it. You don’t want to make the mistake of confusing the public and overwhelming them with too many choices. Analysis paralysis is real.

8. Unbelievable Taglines
Trust is critical for fostering a relationship with your customers. Don’t use an unrealistic tagline like “We Do it All.” Do you really do it all? Play it safe here and use a believable tagline your customers can trust, and that’s memorable.

9. Jumping on Trends
Here’s the thing about trends - they come and go. But you want your brand to stick around for the long haul. Avoid trends and cliches when building your brand.

10. Not Welcoming New Customers
Brands need to think logically and convey a warm, welcoming tone. You may have a local market you’re targeting, but we live in a global economy. Brands should try to welcome customers from diverse backgrounds by being culturally sensitive, inclusive, investing in translation software, and using language the average person can understand and appreciate.

Know where successful branding starts. Be aware of these top ten branding mistakes and avoid them when launching your new company, product, or service.

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.

3 REASONS WHY YOU NEED AGENCY AND IN-HOUSE MARKETING COLLABORATION

Do you find “either/or” choices restrictive and stuffy? You don’t have to choose between hiring an ad agency or only using an in-house marketing team. It’s possible to use both and get the benefits of each with on-point collaboration between these two powerhouses.

What are the benefits of using an in-house marketing team?

An in-house marketing team is built from the ground up. Each member of the team has an intimate understanding of your products, your positioning, your customer demographics, and the brand in general. Companies who invest in an in-house marketing team can keep and grow expertise within the business. Individuals on the marketing team have both long-term strategies and long-term goals for your brand. They’re experts who can see and adopt new marketing trends fast.

What are the benefits of hiring an outside ad agency?

Ad agencies can get the job done quickly. If you need results fast to satisfy an investor, c-suite, or a new VIP client, then farming out specific, one-off jobs to an ad agency can be worth it. An ad agency also offers a new, fresh take on marketing strategies for your products and services where an in-house team might become myopic, relying on time-tested strategies that risk becoming stale.

Why should you use both an in-house marketing team and an ad agency?

If you’ve invested in building a team of qualified experts for your in-house marketing department, it’s a great idea to appoint an in-house marketer to handle the communication between the rest of the team and the ad agency. What are the major reasons why you should combine the two?

  1. You need the benefits of both types of marketing teams. There may come a time where you need the brand expertise present in your in-house marketing team, along with the innovation that a quality ad agency can give you.

  2. You need to stay flexible. Are you unsure of which strategy is going to give you the best results? Combining the efforts of an in-house marketing team with an ad agency can help you stay flexible. Depending on how things go, you can either focus on expanding your in-house team, or adding more ad agency services at some point during the project.

  3. Your budget is limited. Hiring a fully staffed, in-house marketing team can be cost prohibitive for many startups and small to mid-sized businesses. If you don’t have the budget to employ a full in-house marketing team just yet, combining two or three in-house marketers with ad agency services can save your business money. An ad agency can fill in the gaps where you may be missing valuable in-house marketing expertise.

Farming out work to an ad agency, or staying strictly in-house both have their pros and cons. But when you combine the two, you get the benefits of both. Where one side is weak, the other can lend their strengths to bridge any gaps in your marketing plans. Instead of limiting yourself with an either/or choice, consider using both types of marketing powerhouses to grow your business and increase your revenue.