Tag Archives: Consumer

The Most Effective Marketing Words

Since I seem to be emptying my “possible posts” research folder this week, here is something recent that comes to us from the good folks at Weber Shandwick.

English: Good customer service requires high p...

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It’s a study called “Buy It, Try It, Rate It” and you can read the study here.  While this may fall into the “duh” category of research, the study found that consumer reviewers trump professional reviewers as the key purchase influencers and further shows that 65 percent of potential consumer electronics purchasers are inspired by a consumer review to select a brand that had not been in their original consideration set.  It turns out that the average buyer consults 11 consumer reviews as they get ready to purchase.   A few other key findings:

  • Consumers report that they pay more attention to consumer reviews (77 percent) than professional critic reviews (23 percent). The gap between consumer and professional reviews closes noticeably, but not entirely, for more advanced technologies like tablets and computers.
  • The most influential reviews include certain elements. In consumer reviews, the most helpful ones are those that seem fair and reasonable (32 percent), are well-written (27 percent) and contain statistics, specifications and technical data (25 percent).
  • Shoppers trust consumer reviews on Amazon.com (84 percent) and BestBuy.com (75 percent) the most, topping Consumer Reports (72 percent). Consumers show no apparent discomfort in getting their research from a seller of the products they’re considering.

This gets to the notion of authenticity.  I’ve remarked to some people that the next review I find in a golf magazine which gives a bad review to a piece of equipment will be the first.  It’s pretty obvious that without golf manufacturers advertising in the books most of the publications would be in deep financial trouble.  Professionally generated content about electronics, cars, and other goods can have the same skew, or at least raise the issue in consumers‘ minds as the study shows.  What can you do as a brand?

First, be transparent.  This means, among other things, don’t do everything you can to have negative reviews pulled down and certainly don’t censor them on your own site.  Second, as the study suggests,

companies need dedicated resources to manage social network communities for purposes that go beyond branded content. An online community manager should be encouraging customers to review products, disseminating positive customer and professional reviews through social channels, and working in tandem with customer service to respond to customer feedback or issues quickly.

Third, be authentic.  Don’t use marketing speak – write as if you are a consumer.  Finally, don’t be afraid to engage on other sites – Amazon, for example – which have become so influential in the process.  Do so openly though.

The most effective marketing words are those coming out of consumers’  mouths.  While we as marketers can’t put them there, we can listen carefully and respond honestly   That can help make sure those words are positive.  You agree?

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Click Here

We’ve discussed the disconnect between marketers and consumers here on the screed more than once and I had set aside a research study a couple of weeks ago to do so again.  It’s a document from the Adobe folks called “Click Here: The State Of Online Advertising” and it makes for a brief, interesting read.  As one might expect, consumers don’t exactly rave about their love for advertising.  That said, they do seem to recognize the need for advertising and prefer professionally created ads over user-generated marketing:

Consumers and marketing professionals agree that marketing is valued, strategic to business and paramount to driving sales.  Professional advertising is the most effective form of advertising, but 27% of marketers believe that user-generated content is the most popular form of online advertising.

Of course, 53% agree that most marketing is a bunch of B.S. (the study’s term, not mine).  The key to me is, as eMarketer reported:

Marketers and the consumers they are trying to reach disagreed on the effectiveness of a wide variety of ad types, according to the survey. Though both groups thought the best ads were those created by professional marketers, nearly half of marketers said this, compared with just 36% of internet users. There was large disagreement about the effectiveness of paid search ads (touted by marketers, played down by web users) and outdoor advertising (the reverse). Internet users were also much more likely to say there were no good or effective ads—positions which marketers were extremely unlikely to hold, for obvious reasons.

Why are the senders so out of sync with the receivers?  As the study shows, people prefer to get information from people they trust.  The issue, then, is how does a brand penetrate that circle?  Does anyone believe it’s through fake “likes” on Facebook where we see friends (even dead ones!) shilling for stuff they wouldn’t ever use?  Maybe we need to be less lazy – tell better stories, do better creative – since 68% of consumers find online ads “annoying” and “distracting” and 54% say banner ads don’t work. I suspect this dichotomy has ever been so to a certain extent.  For people in the market for various products, marketing messages are important and welcome.  For everyone else, they’re an annoying fact of life.

Here’s the thing – EVERYONE is in the market for something nearly all the time.  Food and entertainment, for example, are daily “purchases”.  As the research shows, until we on the marketing side do a better job of connecting, our ability to influence those decisions will always be less than it could be.   You agree?

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Working Backwards To The Web

When I work with clients on how they’re going to approach digital, I’ve been telling them something a bit different lately.  While I still believe that a company’s website is the primary point of contact, how that site is designed and built needs to be very different   They -and you- need to be thinking mobile first and working backwards to the web.  Sites that aren’t optimized for smartphones and tablets as a primary access channel are going to be out of date very quickly.  How do I know?  Check this out:

Underscoring the mobile migration story, IDC … issues a report … arguing that the number of people in the U.S. accessing the Internet from PC will decrease in coming years. The 240 million consumers currently using desktop and laptop PCs to go online will shrink to 225 million by 2016, they contend. In 2015, the tipping point will be reached where more people will come to the Internet through a device than through a traditional PC (emphasis added).

Think about how you use media these days.  You’re probably watching TV with a second screen somewhere nearby, and more often these days that means a tablet.  More people are likely to leave home without their wallet or keys than without their phone.  The desktop computer and even the laptop is an afterthought – something with which we do work but don’t necessarily consumer media or interact with brands.

Here’s a nagging thought to keep in mind.  Click through rates on mobile ads are awful – even worse than the pitiful rates we see on banner ads.  If it weren’t for the “fat finger” effect (people hit ads accidentally), I suspect these rates would be even worse.  How are you going to overcome that?  Have you been experimenting with mobile search and learning what makes it different from web SEM?  Maybe now is a good time to do so.  Is your site optimized for mobile access?  Maybe we should chat?

Working backwards to the web isn’t really working backwards.  It’s a forward look into the future.  Thoughts?

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Men Don’t Shop – They Buy

There was a great movie that came out in 1979 called “Starting Over.”

Cover of "Starting Over"

Cover of Starting Over

It starred Burt Reynolds as a newly divorced man and featured Oscar-nominated performances by Candice Bergen and Jill Clayburgh.  I thought of that film the other day as I read about a piece of research from the folks at  uSamp.  I’ll explain why in a second, but first the research findings, which you can read about here:

Men are more likely than women to buy a variety of products, including digital content and consumer electronics, on mobile devices.  30% of male respondents in uSamp’s study said they have bought digital content via a mobile device, compared to just 20% of women. The disparity is even wider when it comes to consumer electronics; 27% of male respondents said they have bought a consumer electronic via a mobile device vs. 8% of female respondents. Men seem to be more active on mobile devices after the purchase as well. 35% of male respondents (females: 28%) indicated that they have commented on a purchase via a mobile device, and 26% (females: 16%) have written a review of a purchase.

There is a scene in the 30-year-old movie which reminds me of why the above is no surprise.  After he gets kicked out, Reynolds’ character needs new stuff – a bed, etc.  He goes shopping by walking quickly through the department store aisles followed by a clerk pushing a cart.  He slaps items as he goes, which the clerk throws into the cart.  The point is that most men don’t look as shopping as an experience but as a task, and we all know that tech devices are great at helping us accomplish tasks more quickly and efficiently.  Men don’t “shop” – we buy.

Your primary target is something to consider as you’re thinking through the customer experience   The differences between male and female shoppers should be taken into account.  If you’re a sporting goods store,for example,  maybe spending more money on anything that makes the process more efficient (faster checkout, more visible information about products, huge store directories) is a better investment than in-store music, snazzy graphics, or clever displays.  One can carry that thinking to a web shopping experience, a sports app, or any other business.

See the movie if you get a chance, and remember the lesson even if you don’t.  Funny how research keeps echoing real life!

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Trust Me

For you trivia buffs in the audience, there once was a TV game show called “Who Do You Trust?” The host of the show was a struggling comic named Johnny Carson and a year into the run he picked up a guy named Ed McMahon as his announcer sidekick. The rest is television history.

That bit of history has very little to do with today’s topic other than it asks the question the study I want to highlight answers. Who do you trust? For consumers, the answer appears to be one another.  Nielsen released its Global Trust in Advertising Survey and it shows that

92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising, an increase of 18% since 2007. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform, an increase of 15% in four years.

That’s the good news.  The bad?

…While 47% of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine, and newspaper ads, confidence declined by 24%, 20% and 25% respectively since 2009.

You can read more about this here but the data reinforces the fact that we’re in the midst of a huge transition in marketing.  While most brands are still making the bulk of their marketing investment in paid media, the messages those media disseminate are declining in effectiveness as consumers find other sources of credible information to help with purchase decisions.  Visibility and relevance are not the same thing.

More brands are making efforts in what’s popularly called “earned media.”  They hire an intern to monitor message broads and social media while at the same time they spend millions paying creative types and media buys to work on their TV and print.  While I’m not for a minute suggesting the abandonment of traditional media, perhaps it’s time to look at reallocating resources better to reflect modern realities?  The money spent on the last two titles on your media plan could be working a lot more effectively elsewhere in media more trusted by your consumers.

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Trust Me

You might have read the book “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan.  It deals with the need to become a resource to your customers.  The book was relevant when it was written (2009) and is even more so now, as the results of a recent study show.  According to the research, conducted by Brightlocal.com and reported here:

  • Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.
  • Only 15% of consumers said that they had not used the Internet to find a local business (vs. 21% in 2010)
  • 16% of consumers said they used the Internet every week to find local businesses (vs. 9% in 2010)
  • More consumers are reading online reviews now than 15 months ago, with 27% regularly reading online reviews when looking for a local business to use.
  • Just 28% of consumers cite location &/or price as main decision-making factor

The takeaway is that local search is being used to research your business and positive online reviews are a bigger factor in your success than location or price.  That’s amazing but not surprising to me.  After all, the behavior of asking friends, family, or others about impending purchases isn’t a new phenomenon.  The technology and ease of finding that information is a relatively recent thing, and becoming easier every day.

There has been something in accounting called “goodwill” which is that value of a business above and beyond its assets.  Call it reputation, call it trust, but it’s definitely something that has value even if it’s intangible.  This piece called ‘Why Trust Matters More Than Ever For Brands” lays it out beautifully and this is the key quote:

We’ve all been taught that trust and reputation are important elements of branding. Today, though, trust is not simply a nice thing to have, but a critical strategic asset.

So what are you doing to make sure everyone in your organization conveys that your firm can be trusted with a customer’s business?  How actively are you watching your company’s reputation?  Maybe something for today’s (and every day’s) “to do” list?

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A Little Something For The Effort

I came across a report of a study the other day which falls into the “someone spent money on that??” category.  No, it’s not some misuse of our tax dollars or a replication of Newton’s Laws.  It’s a study by Maritz Research concerning marketers’ use of Twitter.  Or maybe it’s lack of use.  In any event, eMarketer reported on this  and I thought you might enjoy a giggle.  We’re going to be dealing with Twitter but I’m pretty sure you’d get similar results studying Facebook or any other place where brands and consumers connect. Continue reading

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