The fantastic digital four

The New York instalment of Ad:tech is arguably the world’s best digital marketing and technology conference and our objective in going there was to uncover the big marketing trends in the US and find technology we could bring back to New Zealand. We weren’t disappointed.

While many of these trends are also obvious in the New Zealand market, what we were surprised with was the money businesses there are willing to spend on solutions (a $20 million Big Data solution anyone?) and how ‘trend-driven’ digital marketing is. Not surprisingly, shiny, new technologies took a lot more mind space than tried, tested and proven models, and there were four major areas of focus, all of which should be on marketers’ radars in this part of the world as well.  

1) Social Media 

Social media clearly isn’t going away. However, social platforms are maturing and the focus is on commercialising social efforts. We spoke to a number of marketers whose Facebook pages had literally millions of likes, but had become frustrated with seeing little to no measurable impact on their businesses. 

We found success in social had come from marketers answering the following questions:

How are you using social media right throughout the path to purchase? Platforms like Facebook offer through-the-line messaging capabilities. Are you using your Facebook page not only to drive engagement, but to also influence decisions at the point of purchase?

What are you actively doing to sell more product? Coupons, offers, incentives and the like are all simple to implement on Facebook. Brands shouldn’t be scared of selling or being commercial in this space, but it must be aligned with what the community is willing to accept.

Are you measuring the right things? Engagement is important, but it’s hard to attribute to sales. What engagement can influence, however, is loyalty and brand preference. 

For example, our client Puhoi Valley has seen an increase of 50 percent in off-promotion sales since its Facebook page reached 20,000 fans. 

Are you finding your brand’s social influencers and rewarding them? It’s hugely important. But we’re not talking about sending Colin Mathura Jeffree some product or getting a social media expert with a high Klout score to retweet you. Brands need to find genuine brand lovers whose friends join the conversation when they talk about your brand. Our clients do this through a tool we’ve developed called Nudge, which uses social promotions to find influencers.

2) Big Data

Big Data is the term for using multiple data sources to find marketing insights that create better, more effective marketing.

Some examples we saw were L’Oréal using Facebook’s Big Data (i.e its advertising platform) to test NPD ideas on existing, lapsed and new consumers. Or T-Mobile using social sentiment data overlaid with call centre data to create an algorithm that identified people who were most likely to churn.

Insights found when analysing Big Data means less hit-and-miss marketing, less reliance on ‘gut feel’ (although this is still vitally important) and ultimately fewer big marketing mistakes. However, most budgets in New Zealand don’t allow for cross discipline/cross platform Big Data applications, so we need to work a little smarter to uncover insights. For example, if you looked at regional sales data and cross referenced that with regional brand preference data, are there any inconsistencies or outliers? High popularity and low sales or high sales despite low popularity? How can you make your budgets work harder knowing this? 

3) Mobile Marketing

Like social media, this is not really a trend, but rather a sleeping giant that marketers have yet to capitalise on. 

In New Zealand we have 45 percent smartphone penetration, and this is increasing rapidly. In the US, the Internet is accessed more via mobile than via a computer. By August this will also be the case here too. Interestingly, many low-socioeconomic demographic homes have a smartphone as their only means of connection to the internet.

  • Phones are personal, always on, always by your side and always connected.
  • People use mobiles to solve instant problems (70 percent of mobile searches lead to an interaction with a brand/business).
  • Phone screens are less cluttered than a desktop and fewer messages on a screen at one time means well thought-out branded messages will be more effective.
  • We can target people via apps, txt, mobile ads and phone calls, based on the type of device, current location and what they’re looking for/at.

There seems to be a global phenomenon where there’s a significant amount of unused mobile display. This means there are deals to be had for marketers when buying mobile display. The real opportunity, however, lies in using mobile display efficiently through effective use of the technology. Think outside of just ad impressions. Demographic, geographic, psychographic, time, device and other targeting should all be considered when buying mobile display.

Everyone wants an app. They’re so hot right now. But before running off and writing a brief for an app, you need to consider several things: 

  • Is your app idea (or brief) going to provide something either truly valuable or unique to your target consumer?
  • Are consumers still going to be opening the app six, nine or 13 months later, or is it an ‘open once then forget about it’ kind of app? If it’s the later, is it really worth doing?
  • Is an app even right for the problem you are looking to solve? In many cases, a mobile optimised webpage will work just as well as an app. Plus, it’s easier to get people to visit a webpage than find and download an app.
  • And with that in mind, do you have an effective marketing plan to drive downloads of your app?

4) Real-time Marketing 

The aim is to use technology to target our comms to the right demographic with the right message, at the right time and in the right place. It’s also about finding insights to deliver more cost effective marketing.

For example, knowing that 34 percent of people are online while watching TV, it makes sense to schedule Facebook or display advertising to run at the same time as your TVCs. If your TVC has an online-based called to action, this cross-platform approach can significantly increase the efficiency of your media spend.     

Added to that, there is also geo-targeted mobile advertising that only shows an ad when you are in a specific geographic location and time, and variable activated marketing, like ice cream ads that only appear when it hits 24 degrees, ads for FMCG brands that only appear in the hour before peak shopping times or when people are within 1km of a supermarket.

So what do these four big trends mean for New Zealand businesses? When it comes to digital (or any marketing for that matter), here’s another list of four to focus on.

Don’t forget about the idea

We’re preaching to the converted when we say all communications start with an idea, but we often see the brand idea overlooked in digital. Our job in digital isn’t to get likes; our job is to communicate your brand idea in a way that resonates continuously with consumers. 

Use digital when it’s right to use digital

Plan out your digital path to purchase. Understand how digital can influence people at each stage. Don’t build apps or get into social because it’s trendy or cool or because your competitors are doing it. Do it because it can solve a core business issue, like delivering growth, reducing churn or increasing service levels. 

Focus on efficiency

If your marketing spend isn’t working harder now than it was last year, find out why. Then go and test and measure factors to drive change. 

Test, find success, explode

Digital allows you to test ideas quickly and understand what works. Test as many ideas as you can, axe the ones that don’t work and invest more into the ones that do.   

  • This story originally featured in the March/April edition of NZ Marketing. 

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