Any year will have its fair share of ups and downs but, let’s face it, if 2016 was anything to go by, then we’re likely in for another bumpy ride in 2017.
To mark the start of the year, we asked our Freshfielders to tell us the qualities that will define marketing success in these frenetic and unpredictable times.
An authentic voice
By Jen Peacock
While not an entirely new idea, the incorporation of real people in campaigns was a growing trend in 2016. Talk Talk’s ‘This Stuff Matters’ put the spotlight on a real family from Blackpool, while the McCain adverts featured real families around the dinner table.
The shift towards conveying a sense of authenticity could be attributed to the disheartening influx of negative news and divisive politics in the last 12-months. While extravagance still has its place, realism speaks to audiences more effectively in uncertain times. People relate to people and, if done successfully, it’s a tactic that can help businesses increase consumer trust.
It’s something that can be embraced by B2B brands too, for example, by using video and pictures to bring real-life customer stories and case studies to life.
Resilience and agility
By Laura Wild
Businesses that stay relevant, despite constant changes and testing circumstances, can build a strong following.
You don’t always know what’s around the next corner, but when the unpredictable happens if you’re quick enough you can use it to your advantage. Sometimes tearing up a plan and starting again is better than executing an idea which was good at the time, but which has been overtaken by external forces.
Businesses need a steely determination to do this. The need to keep pace with what’s happening in the world and the mood of your audience is paramount. 2016 saw some excellent examples of businesses acting quickly to lighten the mood with their marketing campaigns, like this one from a Norwegian Airlines which went viral just two days after Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced they were divorcing.
— Jan Bonnevier (@inspirito) December 10, 2016
An ability to influence the influencers
By Laura Cullen
It’s a truth universally acknowledged in PR land that the only thing more effective than telling people to buy your service or product is someone else telling them for you. Traditionally, that ‘someone’ was the media, but over the last few years we’ve witnessed the rise of influencer marketing.
Put simply, this is where a brand forms a genuine relationship with a key person within a specific community, and delivers their message through that individual. It works because the message is usually more authentic and people trust recommendations from those they see as thought leaders, giving the brand credibility.
Celebrities like the Kardashian clan have made influencer marketing popular, but businesses don’t need to target A-listers for a campaign to be a success. ‘Micro-influencers’ – people who may not have thousands of followers but are creating the type of content that grabs the attention of a relevant audience – are arguably a better choice of partner. This is because these influencers, like the hair and beauty blogger Sophie Hannah Richardson below, have followers who engage based on what they say, rather than who they are.
Here’s a cute hair tutorial for you all Enjoy!! Music: Wish you were here by Joakim #hairandstyles #vegas_nay #hudabeauty #stylevideo #dyedhair #hairandstyles #makeupvideoss #hair_videos #fashionarttut #hairdotutorials #tutorialesvideos #makeupcoach #liveglam #hairglamvideos #hairvideodiary #bluehair #hair_artistry
New online tools are making it easier than ever for marketers to target these influencers, and it’s a vital tactic for any brand that wants to rise above the noise in 2017. However, it’s also not without pitfalls. Many influencers have their own agenda and will not promote products they don’t believe in. Meanwhile, stricter rules mean that influencers now have to declare when they are being paid to promote a product or service. You’ll need a solid strategy and clear message.
A knack for forming a solid plan
By Simon Turner
According to CMI and its B2B content marketing report for 2017, only 37 per cent of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. Ideas are nothing without a good plan. Having a communications plan and schedule in place allows you to stay focused without getting distracted and achieve the best results.
The need to have a plan is even more important given the fact that we all want to create more content. 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to 2016. I’m a believer that quality should overrule quantity. Saying less can sometimes help you say more. But if you are tempted to ramp up your content production, do focus on quality and always align it to your marketing and business plan.
A ‘mobile-first’ mentality
By Alice Davies
Like it or not, communicating in a mobile-friendly format has become essential. For example, Google will now have a single index for mobile content, which will be indexed before anything else. I think this illustrates the change that is happening across all platforms; websites are being designed with mobile in mind, rather than desktop – companies now invest in apps more than ever.
I think Google is influencing the change by not having as up-to-date results on desktop searches, which is pushing more and more companies to forgo desktop and simply concentrate on mobile. This changes things across the board, especially SEO. Will fewer results be shown within the search engine results pages now? Can as much content be included on websites because they’re more mobile focused? These are questions companies will have to grapple with in 2017.
Not forgetting the personal touch
By Paul Tustin
In the digital noise and the race to join every available channel, the value of a piece of mail sent to you – and only you – cannot be underestimated. A 2016 campaign on behalf of the Royal Mail – The ‘Mail Men’ – pays homage to hit US period drama Mad Men, and homes in on the physical connection of mail.
In research conducted to coincide with its launch, some 38 per cent of the report’s respondents said the physical properties of mail influenced how they felt about the sender, suggesting brands have a further chance to forge an emotional connection with consumers, especially if they haven’t used direct mail before.
The message for 2017 from this is not to forget the personal touch, whether on its own merits or part of a wider campaign incorporating digital and other channels.
A keen sense of judgement
By Andrew Taylor
It only used to be multi-nationals and conglomerates that felt the wrath of pressure groups. But the use of social media to shame organisations perceived to do harm means even the most unwitting of businesses can find themselves at the centre of an online backlash.
The Stop Funding Hate campaign, mobilised online, has led to brands like Lego pulling their advertising from the Daily Mail because the publication is perceived by many to be encouraging division with its editorial stance. Businesses need a social conscience more than ever before, not just to avert a potential crisis, but also to connect with their customers.
The need for businesses and individuals to think before they post on social media has never been more important too. Every day there are examples of organisations taking a reputational hit, usually as a result of an employee who’s used poor judgement, made an uneducated decision or is just plain ignorant. To that end, businesses need robust social media policies and procedures.
A willingness to embrace ‘paid’ media
By Samantha Booth
With organic reach on the decline, non-sponsored posts will no longer suffice for brands wanting to cut through highly saturated social media channels such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. To reach their audiences, businesses need to amplify content by dedicating a proportion of budget to advertising spend online.
For example, a recent study on Facebook showed that only six out of every 100 people who like a company page will see an update organically. New ‘personalised’ algorithms look at roughly 100,000 different factors to determine who can see your content, but some of the key areas considered are how much an individual user already engages with your post and the performance of your past posts. If you’re a new page, it makes it incredibly difficult to get off the staring block, and even established, successful pages will likely see their figures dropping.
Put simply, unless you pull out the credit card your content could be invisible to most users. Investing in content advertising on social platforms allows firms to break through the noise to reach specially selected people, based on all important factors such as gender, age, geographical location, likes and dislikes.
Smaller firms can’t simply rely on organic reach anymore. An advertising campaign will help grow social pages, bringing in follows from the right people. Only then can brands begin to truly engage online, have meaningful conversations and build loyalty.
A sharp analytical mind
By Mark Brennan
For many marketers, the single biggest advantage of using digital channels is measurability. From Google Analytics on your website traffic, to social media performance statistics and digital advertising metrics – the modern marketer is awash with data. This creates real challenges in identifying the metrics to use in measuring marketing success. However, marketers are getting better at crunching numbers and really challenging the statistics – to focus on quality, rather than just quantity.
Examples include measuring the number of genuine, qualified online enquiries (rather than just the number of times an enquiry form is completed) and looking at Google analytics results for specific target segments (based on geographic location, device used or what prompted the web visit). The issues that Facebook has had over the quality of its data this year highlights the importance of marketers asking the right questions when using digital statistics to measure their marketing activity.
A determination to include video in the marketing mix
By Ben Hewes
Video is how many people now prefer to receive their news, to learn new skills, or to find out more about a product or service. So why do businesses still largely ignore it as a marketing tactic? According to YouTube’s own statistics, almost a third of all people on the internet use the video sharing site, with billions of views. YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than most TV networks.
Statistics show that including video on a landing page can increase conversions by as much as 80 per cent – directly impacting the bottom line. For many businesses, particularly in the professional arena, it will require a leap of faith, but to ignore it is to ignore a major source of business and to refuse to engage with customers using a medium they use more than any other.
Video can bring a subject to life like no other medium. The video below, for example, was produced by Freshfield on behalf of client Springhill Care Group to launch it’s #caringheroes campaign, which shines a light on the inspirational work that goes on in the care industry, much of which often goes unrecognised.
An appetite for research
By Michael Gregory
One of the most critical aspects of marketing that often goes overlooked is research. It is the cornerstone of any successful campaign but I still see many organisations implementing campaigns that are based on guesswork. Just assuming that an organisation’s targets will like a particular route or campaign is not a platform for success. If you know what your target audience looks like, what they respond to, or how they can be influenced will make a positive difference to any campaign. As my old university lecturer said…research, research, research.