I Get By with a Little Help from my Apps

At the IAB Expo yesterday, Melanie Varley and Andy Wasef of MEC made the case that the only way to be creative is to put mobile first. The growth and ubiquity of mobile devices require brands to consider mobile experience first. As we do so, we will build better user experiences in all channels.

Designing for mobile means designing for utility and fun; considering the user’s mindset and making the interface as intuitive and transparent as possible. This morning, as I was on way to the airport, I experienced a great example of how brands build their brand by building great mobile experiences.

I was on a hotel shuttle to LaGuardia, and folks were going to all different airlines. @Delta flies out of several terminals there; a couple on the shuttle knew their flight number but not the terminal, and were worried about missing their flight. I used the Delta app (already on my phone) to look up their flight and find the gate number within a few clicks. They were relieved, the driver was glad to be able to take them to the right place, and I enjoyed being able to help someone.

I’m not flying on Delta today, but I had a great brand experience with them anyway. It was one of those “frequent lightweight interactions” that the folks at Facebook often mention. This is how a brand builds a relationship with its consumers: by giving us something that makes our life easier, makes us smile, lets us express ourselves or help someone.

Thanks @Delta!

The Three Essential Elements of Your Brand’s Video Strategy

Video is an increasingly important element of brand communications. We all naturally are drawn to moving images – it is probably part of our DNA to keep us safe from saber-toothed tigers. Brands can develop all sorts of video to provide content that provides value to their customers and consumers. This post is intended to help you think about how to incorporate video into your marketing strategies.

Key Elements of Video Strategy

A brand’s video strategy must incorporate three elements of consumer behavior:

  • Discovery: Identify the mechanisms by which consumers will find and discover video content. Develop plans for the use of paid advertising, search engine optimization, and brand social and email communities to help consumers find the brand’s video content.
  • Content:  Develop a content calendar that provides value to the consumer, in the form of utility (making life easier), entertainment (making life more fun) or education (making life more interesting). In some cases, the content will integrate with the brand’s promotional calendar, but there will also need to be content that is relevant at any time of year. The catalog of content needs to be deep enough to allow for repeated and in-depth consumer engagement, and it needs to be portable, should users wish to consume it across different sites, devices, or platforms.
  • Context: The brand’s video content should be relevant to the channel; not all video belongs in all channels. The content calendar should be designed to entice consumers from larger-reach and/or paid channels into a deeper brand experience on a brand-owned property. Video content should be integrated into brand paid, owned and earned communications with consumers.

Who and Why?

Video consumption is growing at breakneck speed around the world; consumers see all video as content, and are more than willing to embrace and share content they find useful or relevant, regardless of source. This gives brands the opportunity to build affinity with the consumer by meeting their needs, rather than simply delivering a message. Statistics from ComScore and Forrester Research:

  • 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 37 billion online content videos in April 2012.
  • US video ad views totaled nearly 9.5 billion, representing 1 in 5 videos viewed online in April.
  • More than 200 million people in the EU7 (UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia and Turkey) watch an average of 20 hours each of online video every month .
  • Duration of average video content was 6:20; average video ad was :24.
  • digital video ad spending in the US is projected to balloon by more than 250% from $2 billion in 2011 to $5.4 billion by 2016

“Online video” is becoming a misnomer. People watch video anywhere and everywhere, on whatever device and through whatever platform is most convenient. According to Forrester Research, 37 million US households currently own a connected device that enables them to watch digital video on their TV screen, up from fewer than 25 million in 2010. Media companies are beginning to package TV and online video buys together, and Nielsen and others are developing cross-platform tracking tools. As video ad networks begin to partner with TV manufacturers and cable providers, the lines between “TV” and “online” video will continue to blur, and brands will need to ensure that all brand, creative and media partners are collaborating very closely.

Where and When?

Google’s YouTube channel continues to be the #1 site, far outpacing other channels for number of viewers and the number of videos watched. Globally, YouTube has 3 million views per day with average time on the site of 20 minutes. Over 48 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Top   U.S. Online Video Content Properties Ranked by Unique   Video Viewers, April 2012, Total U.S. – Home and Work Locations; Content   Videos Only (Ad Videos Not Included)
Source: comScore Video Metrix
Property Total   Unique Viewers (000) Videos   (000) Minutes   per Viewer
Total   Internet : Total Audience 180,785 36,848,001 1,307.7
Google   Sites 157,663 17,022,226 434.8
Yahoo!   Sites 53,604 741,995 73.7
VEVO 49,479 674,183 57.9
Facebook.com 44,298 264,903 27.0
Microsoft   Sites 42,833 486,567 42.4
Viacom   Digital 41,247 501,100 58.9
AOL,   Inc. 38,925 496,400 54.3
Amazon   Sites 30,168 104,581 17.4
Hulu 28,233 901,060 228.5
News   Distribution Network, Inc. 27,005 186,956 75.2

Video content is now being consumed in “prime time” –  a big change from just 3 years ago, as shown in the solid line below.

Video viewing on mobile devices has tripled during the same time period. Using TV and online video together greatly increase the brand’s frequency of exposure to brand messaging.

What?

Video content will be seen by the consumer as one of the brand’s products, not as an advertisement.  ComScore research (March 2012) has shown that professionally produced video content and user-generated product videos are highly synergistic, driving higher levels of sales effectiveness when used in tandem.  “In the campaign examined, professionally produced content and product videos drove strikingly higher lifts when used together than when either was used individually.

While marketers may already be familiar with the effectiveness of professional video content alone, these results suggest that even greater returns can be had by combining their use with authentic, user-generated content.” “We found that consumers perceived feature benefits as more believable when coming directly from the brand through professionally produced content, while the unbiased user-gen videos were more believable in verifying specific product claims, such as superiority and convenience. When used together, all of the perceived gaps get filled in and consumers become more confident in their purchase decision, resulting in better sales effectiveness from the advertising.”

The Road Map

Forrester recommends a process of content creation that is channel-agnostic until the end of the process. By thinking about all the places where a person might view content, and their frame of mind when they are within that particular environment, the same video shoot can yield several different angles for the same message, and create different “entry points” that can draw people deeper into the story.

Woody Allen was talking about Your Brand

Woody Allen famously said: “80% of success is showing up”.  This is as true for brands as it is for people – the key to brand building in today’s environment is to be found by potential consumers when they are in a receptive situation. These days, each of us has an unprecendented level of control over the messages we receive. We can choose when and how to be entertained, get the news, or learn about what is happening with our friends. If we have a question, we can look up the answer. If we want to solve a problem, we can ask others who have faced the same challenge. As long as the source of the solution is credible, we usually don’t care much about where the solutions t comes from: it could be a person halfway around the world, or a brand that is in our kitchen pantry. Brand marketers need to find ways to “show up” in relevant places, with relevant content, to be successful in this evolving landscape.

We have all changed the way we consume media. Studies show that we actually consume more than ever, as the number of channels through which media is delivered has exploded in recent years. And because of this, brands are changing the way we market our products and services. Brand marketers can no longer choose the channels into which we place our messages and count on our messages being received. Brands must rely more on “being found”.  New phrases like “brands as publishers”, “content marketing”, “inbound” and “always on” are being added to our marketing lexicon to help us express these changing ways of marketing.

The premise behind these phrases is that marketers are moving away from an environment where the brand simply needed to create messages and deliver those messages to their consumers through a few mass market vehicles. Today the number of channels through which a message can be delivered has exploded to a size that makes it impossible for a brand to rely on placing its message in all the right places. We must make sure that the messages are compelling enough to be passed along to the channels we can’t afford to reach.

So how can brands be sure that they “show up”?

1. Understand your consumer’s decision journey and where they get information as they are considering and evaluating your brand and be sure that your content is in places s/he will be looking – at all stages along the decision journey, online and offline. Identify ways to “recognize” individual consumers as they interact with the brand at each stage and record each touch point.

2. Design content that will add value to the consumer’s life when they find it: make them smile, solve their problem, make their life easier. Provide consistent and relevant content at every stage in the journey, to increase the opportunity to be included in the consumer’s evaluation set and to reinforce a positive experience after purchase.

3. Identify the consumers that have entered the loyalty loop, and no longer go through the consideration and evaluation stages before they buy your brand. Develop strategies to help them advocate for your brand to others, in online and offline channels, and reward them in tangible and intangible ways for doing so. Seek to establish a relationship with them: listen to them, remember their birthday, let them get to know you – and I mean YOU, the real person(s) behind the brand, not some corporate entity. Help them to share their experience with and loyalty to your brand with others – in the thousands of channels a brand’s advertising dollars could never reach.

If Woody Allen is right, and 80% of success is just showing up, brands will be successful as they allocate their marketing resources to ensure that they “show up”.

Is EMail Marketing Dead?

Brands have used email marketing for years as part of their marketing communications. For brands that don’t sell directly to consumers, email can provide a channel to establish a dialogue with consumers, and to provide content that could be shared with others, so it was “social” before social networks came along. With the rapid growth of Facebook, brand marketers sometimes ask whether they investments in building an email database and creating email content still make sense. My answer is a hearty YES! Email continues to be an important part of a brand’s social marketing strategy. Here’s why:

1. Email is still growing; consumers still choose to receive it. While many consumers are increasing using social networks for connecting with friends and families, permission-based email subscriptions continue to grow. This implies that consumers are looking for relevant information from brands. By carefully segmenting content and monitoring consumer response, brands can provide real value and information that consumers are seeking.

2. Email is a hub for brand communications. Email provides the brand a unique ability to connect the consumer to all elements of the marketing plan: the brand can send consumers to a Facebook app, share a YouTube video, invite them to an event in the “real” world. Mike Bloxham from the Center for Media Design at Ball State University calls email “the connective tissue in the media mix based on the ubiquity of its use, the amount of time people use email throughout the day, and the ability for marketers to proactively communicate with their customers through the medium.”

3. Email is relevant to the consumer. Because the marketer controls the database and can track the behavior and interests of email subscribers, the brand is able to create different email content for various consumer groups, providing the opportunity to be more relevant to each consumer. At present, Facebook messages on the news feed can only be segmented by geography and language. Facebook can now function as a “reception room” for potential consumers; it’s an easy and light format that allows consumers to easily get to know the brand. Once the consumer has decided that they want deeper, more personal contact with the brand, links between social they can sign up to receive email messages that will include personalized content that is right for them.

4. Email remains important to users of social channels and mobile devices. Nielsen studies indicate that users of social channels are also heavy users of email. ExactTarget found that 58 percent of online consumers check their email first, compared to the 11 percent who start their day by checking Facebook. ComScore reported that mail dominates time spent on mobile devices and computers.

Email is alive and well, and an important part of the social marketing strategy for consumer brands. Email is one part of the social CRM toolkit, allowing brands to build strong and enduring relationships with consumers.