Editor's Note: Nick Rojas is a freelance journalist who has written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. Today he joins us to discuss how AI is changing the way that businesses acquire customers, and how to use it.
Every company needs new customers to grow, and anyone running a business knows that it takes time and planning to attract them. However, thanks to the growth of artificial intelligence, customer acquisition is getting a little bit easier.
AI is advancing and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon: between this year and 2022, the AI market is expected to grow 62 percent, by a value of $16.06 billion. Marketers and businesses are wisely taking notice and implementing AI into their customer acquisition strategies.
With the right methods in place, AI can revolutionize your acquisition funnel, saving you time and money in the process. Let’s take a look at how this can be done.
Chatbots are a hot trend in tech marketing circles. You’ve probably interacted with them numerous times, even if you didn’t realize it.
Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa are all chatbots. You may find this confusing, since chatbots are usually thought of in very narrow terms. In reality, any AI which interacts with customers using natural human speech can be thought of as a ‘chatbot’.
So why are they such a big deal for customer acquisition? It’s simple: chatbots simplify the user experience and enhance customer support.
Consumers are more likely to buy your products if you remove barriers to entry. To remove those barriers, you need to facilitate an environment where moving from acquisition to decision is painless.
This is exactly what chatbots accomplish. Take for instance bots that live on Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to ask questions and buy products on-the-fly. If consumers become interested in your business through a social media page, they can do research and make a decision without ever leaving the application.
Chatbot customer support helps retain customers that you’ve already done business with, and thereby improves your brand reputation, which can attract new customers in turn.
AI allows companies to offer versatile 24/7 support to their customers. If a problem arises while your staff is away, your chatbot is always ready.
Advances in Artificial Intelligence enable chat bots to gather information about a problem, offer solutions, and also transfer the problem to a human when it’s too complex. Simple issues can be resolved on-the-spot without intervention, leaving the most important problems for your personnel to handle, with all the pertinent information collected and ready for review.
No matter how a problem is resolved, customer support chatbots enhance the customer experience while saving time and money.
Predict Consumer Behavior
Attracting new customers means understanding consumer wants and needs. AI helps this process by predicting consumer behavior on the basis of existing information.
Artificial intelligence is routinely used by companies like Salesforce to mine and process large data sets of customer information such as preferences, shopping habits, and comments left on your social media pages. Using a process called semantic analysis, AI can understand human context and intelligently guess how a person feels about a product or service based on their interactions with your company.
Is your product getting lots of views on social media? Then you should capitalize on social media.
Is your idea unique to a specific market? Then hit that niche with your advertising.
Chatbots and predictive behavior analysis streamline your customer acquisition process while also saving you time and money. As Artificial Intelligence continues to revolutionize online customer acquisition, the best time to get started is now!
Retailers have reacted to changing consumer behavior in a wide variety of ways, including closing down physical stores, creating made-to-order products, offering in-store pickup, coordinating multi-channel offers, creating differentiated products, conducting brand collaborations and partnerships, and focusing on e-commerce.
All of these strategies are important and should be based in one critical piece of the puzzle—accurate, true customer profiling. Marketers are still relying solely on either old-school fictitious personas from creatives, based on anecdotal evidence. Or they use some data and do predictive modeling, but do it all manually, relying on human power instead of computing power.
Creative development, messaging and customer acquisition (prospecting) are lagging far behind, even as many other aspects of marketing today have become rigorous, highly automated and data-driven.
Improving these specific marketing disciplines is certainly the job of predictive marketing—which is essentially the practice of customer profiling and prospect discovery. Yet, predictive marketing is a large hurdle for brands and agencies today.
This is because, when it comes to predicting which consumers will love and buy your brand—and how to best message and reach those prospective consumers—even the most advanced retailers and their agencies still rely on large physical data science teams and predictive methods that are decades old.
“74% of marketers using dynamic content powered by predictive intelligence, rated it as absolutely critical or very important in helping them create cohesive customer journeys.”
— Salesforce Research
Brands and agencies have yet to automate predictive marketing and move it to the cloud.
If retailers commit to building better, data-driven profiles of their customers and the same for finding net-new customers, they’ll improve their ability to draw and retain more valuable customers. By learning to love automation, retailers might be able to – not just keep up with changing consumer behavior – but even get in front of it.
OMI will be launching exciting new Facebook and Content marketing classes in the New Year. Stay tuned. In the meantime, browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.
You certainly want to draw new people to your brand. Who doesn’t? But are you bringing in people who are new to your space, or just fighting for existing share?
When it comes to acquiring new customers, the best strategy is a balanced approach across the consumer journey. Companies commonly get stuck perfecting the later stages – i.e., in the intent, purchase and loyalty stages – and fail to attract true net-new prospects into the journey in the first place.
The beginning of the journey is usually left to mass brand awareness efforts with poor targeting. This creates a gap in the journey between brand awareness and purchase consideration. This also wastes a lot of effort on generating awareness with never-to-be-customers, while not gaining consideration from high-value prospects.
One of the more acclaimed strategy books of the 2000s was the book Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, about how to open up a new market space and create new demand.
The authors compare what they call “red oceans” and “blue oceans.” Red oceans are markets where companies fight with little differentiation for the same customers, and therefore have to compete on price. The blue ocean strategy details how to avoid getting caught in red oceans.
When it comes to customer acquisition strategies widely used today by brands, it strikes me that they’re still defaulting to a red ocean strategy.
Brands tend to focus acquisition efforts where competition is the fiercest, and often fail to do true net-new prospecting. For example, brands fight for:
Past Customers: Reactivation campaigns to past purchasers are common, in an attempt to re-engage customers and subscribers who’ve made a purchase in the past but have since gone dormant. This is a useful tactic, but won’t power the start of the consumer journey.
Competitor Customers: Some conquesting efforts are intentional. Some happen by accident due to lack of transparency. For instance, with co-op databases, you may accidentally find yourself conquesting when you thought you were net-new prospecting. When targeting consumers via a data co-op, you provide a list of your current customers and in return you more-or-less get a list of your competitors’ customers.
Intent-based Prospects: These prospects are people who’ve declared a clear intention to make a near-term purchase, based on their behavior. When people provide contact details on an auto website, or ask for a quote from an insurance broker, they’ve made a clear statement about their being in-market or nearly in-market. Intent data is an important factor in calculating net-new prospects, but it’s one piece of a larger data puzzle. With intent-based prospects, once the prospect has registered her name, it’s sold to 3 to 15 brands who are left to win her over on price.
Not sure where to start with Lead Gen? You're not alone. Online Marketing Institute recommends these classes on Demand Gen. These classes make it easy for anyone in the digital space to understand the fundamentals of demand generation.
So why do brands neglect true prospecting efforts?
One reason is, there’s a lot of short-term reward for focusing on the end of the consumer journey and efficiently acquiring low-hanging fruit. Having a high conversion rate from consideration-to-purchase looks and feels great. The problem is the inherently lower volume in this stage in the journey, and even that volume fizzles over time without a strong early-stage acquisition process.
The other reason is status quo. It was the norm to purchase or rent “dumb” prospect lists for acquisition campaigns meant to drive new consumers to your brand. These lists were easily available, but lacked statistically relevant targeting, and mainly resulted in poor campaign performance. Yet, for a long time there wasn’t a better alternative. Some brands invested in manual data science to attempt to better predict future prospect behavior, but this was a time-consuming and costly process. And results varied.
Today, with automated cloud technology, it’s now possible to identify net-new prospects who are new to your business and who are the most likely to love and buy your products. And it can be done more accurately, in less time and with less cost. This is a game changer for the early phases of the consumer journey. Rather than rely on un-targeted brand efforts to people who will never become customers, brands can now spend brand dollars intelligently to reach large prospect pools, specifically those who have a significant chance of becoming a new customer in your space.
In the end, lower-journey strategies are important, but don’t dedicate all your marketing efforts to the zero-sum game. Real net-new prospecting will move you beyond fighting on price and features. Done right, blue ocean prospecting generates higher margins and is by nature a positive-sum sport.
Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.
How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder
Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve heard the mantra, only now it doesn’t just apply to saving the planet. This mantra can also be applied to marketing, specifically digital marketing. Rather than ramping up content creation, it’s time that digital marketing professionals work smarter, not harder.
Here are a few tips to help you maximize the content on your blog and work smarter.
Build Themes into Your Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is not merely a holding place for blog topics and content ideas. It’s the ideal place to put down in writing the overall trajectory of your content marketing strategy.
Start by building themes into your editorial calendar. The easiest way to do this is to pick a larger topic for each month and have all the blogs for that particular month address certain aspects of that topic.
For example, an editorial calendar for a corporate recruiting firm may cover resume writing in May, preparing for an interview in June, and negotiating benefits in July. In May, the four blog posts will cover the main things to include in a resume, common resume mistakes, tools for checking grammar in resumes, and unique takes on resumes. Each of those blog posts will roll up to the general topic of resumes for month.
Repurpose Blogs into Downloadable Guides
A successful content marketing strategy does not rely solely on creating blogs. Rather, it incorporates multiple types of content to appeal to a variety of potential clients.
Instead of starting from scratch for each ebook, case study, white paper, or how-to guide you create, look to your blog. You can take content from a blog, especially a popular or well-received blog, and repurpose it into a white paper that can be gated and downloaded from the website. Or if a particular blog discusses what works, use a particular client to demonstrate how those approaches work and create a new client case study.
Turn a Blog into a Visual
Many marketing departments are fully utilizing their awesome designers or design team. Take advantage of their wonderful skills by having them turn a blog or ideas from a few blogs into a visual, like an infographic, tip sheet, or chart. This is one of the easiest ways to repurpose content, mainly because it requires chopping down content to the very basics so that the visuals tell the bulk of the story.
A great opportunity to create a visual content piece is a how-to article. How-to blog posts are the easiest to convert into an infographic or a presentation because a visual can take the place of a 200-word description. For example, if the recruiting firm creates a blog on what to include in a resume, they can work with a designer to turn it into a downloadable visual that a job seeker can reference while drafting his or her own resume (without writing new content!).
Use Analytics to Pick Topics
When topics aren’t resonating with prospects, ditch them. Stop covering topics that prospects and clients don’t care about. Eliminating the topic duds is a great way to streamline your process and focus on what matters to your potential clients.
The only way to know the difference between a dud and a winner when it comes to your blog posts is by reviewing the analytics. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website or blog, take a look at the traffic and track the downloads of your content pieces. We always suggest looking at a couple of months of data to weed out seasonal traffic spurts.
If a particular blog post does well, add more topics to your editorial calendar that address different aspects or takes on that particular topic. Using the recruiting firm again, if they wrote a topic on how to dress for an interview and it got 2x as many views as a topic on how to clean up your social media when job hunting, they should add more topics that discuss dressing the part for an interview.
It’s very rare that a blog post goes viral after sharing it on one social media channel. Don’t produce 20 blog posts hoping to hit on a topic that will have a viral reach. Instead, focus on producing 5 – 10 quality blog posts and spend time promoting them.
First, share them on all your social media channels. If you have multiple blog posts to share, be sure to share each post multiple times (at different times and days of the week). This will enable you to reach a higher portion of your audience and put more eyeballs on your blog posts.
Next, pay to promote your posts. Sponsoring your posts on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest enables you to reach users that aren’t part of your existing audience. Allocating a portion of your budget to promotion enables you to maximize the value of your blog posts. Even a small budget can have a dramatic impact in helping your post reach a brand new (targeted) audience.
In an ideal world, you have the bandwidth to create a ton of blog posts, but in the real world, there just isn’t time. By following the tips here, you can maximize the blog posts you are able to create and increase the ROI of each one.
Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.
About the Author: Jeremy Durant is Business Principal at Bop Design, a B2B web design and digital marketing firm. Jeremy works closely with businesses in need of a website, marketing and branding strategy, helping them to develop their unique value proposition and ideal customer profile. Jeremy received his BA from Merrimack College and his MBA from California State University, San Marcos.
What is the difference between paid content marketing and paid banner advertising?
Paid content marketing and display banner advertising (also paid for) are often thought to be at war with each other.
At first glance, their opposition seems obvious. With informative articles, free promotions, and interactivity that drives traffic inbound with users not even knowing it, content marketing appears far less intrusive than does display advertising, the old guard of online, outbound promotion, which gave us the Internet’s billboards: pop-ups, pop-unders, leaderboards, skyscrapers, and everything rectangular in between.
The reality is these forms are far less at war with each other than they are at peace. In fact in recent years, they’ve merged through a combination of methods employed in the fields of both native advertising and social media marketing. In this post, we explore how these two forms of marketing emerged, evolved, and combined to form much of what we see today when we visit a commercial website, as well as what a good marketing degree should offer in the way of training for these fields.
So how did banner ads and paid content get their start? By trading notes, essentially.
In 1994, banner ads initiated a boom through the 90s. Largely due to novel clickability afforded by their debut on several popular early websites like Hotwired and Yahoo, they earned a place of prominence among users of the World Wide Web. Around 1996, at the same time these ads were allowing a huge surge in the number of content-driven publishers like Hotwired that were able to generate substantial revenue selling ad space, the novelty of banner ads wore off—just as paid content was starting to spread its wings. In 1999, after a large dip in market value when banner ad effectiveness was measured to find 0.1% conversion rates, a rise in fear surrounding y2k, and the bursting of the Dot com bubble, online ad revenues dropped 32%, and investors started tightening their pursestrings during the first two quarters of the year 2000.
At this time, paid content and display advertising in particular retreated to lick their wounds. A period of market volatility ensued. That is, until Google AdWords came to the rescue. With new clickthrough and performance-based tracking technology available in 2002, Google introduced a new ad program that overhauled the landscape of online advertisement, transforming it from a predominantly paid placement model (i.e., the more buyers pay, the more their ad plays) to a predominantly pay-per-click model. This new advertising paradigm, which is still by and large the paradigm we use today, ranked and placed advertisements based on relevance to the user’s keyword searches rather than the size of a buyer’s bid at auction. Thus, a new era of online marketing was born: the era of search engine optimization, user-determined virality, and clickthrough-rate above all—an era in which paid content became king.
So what happened to banner ads after their crash opened up the road for paid content’s preeminence?
They went native. That is, they began to take notes from king content on how to be less intrusive. Much like product placement in movies or TV shows usually goes unnoticed but still leaves impressions that have been shown to influence comsumer behavior, the success of native advertising pressured brands to pay for dynamic content rather than throw money at static “Click Here!” ad campaigns. The result is that in this new age of adblockers and textual content, banner ads would no longer be able to fill our periphery with flashy pop-ups, or at least not on websites that had become conscious of the importance of publishing relevant content and creating pleasant user experiences. Some of the most popular examples of native advertising today are advertorials, promoted tweets, and those little branded posts we scroll past on our Facebook News Feeds: Sponsored posts (which are based on paid placement), Suggested posts (which are based on your Google searches), or posts from organizations that your friends have liked or shared (which are based on your well, your friends).
Now, the (quite literally) billion-dollar question. Where are we headed? If banner ads have been eclipsed by paid content, then what does their future hold? And if paid content is king, then what else do we have to look forward to in the fields of social media marketing and native advertising? More of the same regime?
These are very big questions that no one post can presume to answer in full. But it is safe to say that we can expect greater things than more of the same. Banner ads are predicted by some, including Forbes’ online advertising expert, Robert Hof, and an eMarketer study, to be making a comeback in 2016. Due to innovations in ad-buying technology, new understandings of user search behavior, and increased awareness of user demographics, both banner ads and paid content are being traded through a practice that blends the stock exchange with online advertising to produce a new, largely automated industry called programmatic buying. Since display ad trading comprises a big portion of this ad exchange market, and because the emperor Google has decreed that “programmatic is here to stay”, it’s safe to say banner ads are nowhere near extinct, and that the paid content industry should consider other ways to incorporate display advertising’s outbound techniques into their inbound marketing campaigns.
For all these reasons, we should expect colleges and universities to offer marketing degrees that train their students in the art and science of social media marketing, native advertising, and programmatic buying. Without them, students will be left behind in a time where paid content and banner ads were supposedly enemies from different industries, instead of friends with the same ends. Isn’t that the goal of marketing after all? To unify people over a product for which they can share their mutual appreciation?
Searching for Answers About Predictive Marketing for Brands
The term predictive marketing can conjure up thoughts of either complicated data science or mystical fortune-telling. But it’s really not that complicated or mysterious.
Prediction boils down to finding patterns in data, specifically patterns that let you calculate the likelihood of future actions or desired outcomes.
For example, if you have customers who purchased a product or service – like high-end bed linens or on-demand doctor services – then you can use data to find new people who are likely to buy those same products. We call these people likely to buy, net-new prospects. ‘Net-new’ just means people who’ve never heard about or been customers of your business.
Unfortunately, before predictive marketing, the word ‘prospect’ was a flimsy term that usually pointed to a random person, who perhaps was a certain age or gender. ‘Psychographic’ criteria were added over time, in an attempt to account for things like people’s activities, opinions or possessions. But, marketers couldn’t effectively process demographic, psychographic and other data all together – in toto – so no one really knew if these prospects would love or buy a product.
Today, the word prospect is becoming a more accurate and powerful word for B2C marketers. True predictive-based, net-new prospects are people new to your business and who are going to love and buy your products. For customer acquisition marketers, real net-new prospects are what dreams are made of. Predictive marketing lets you find and acquire them.
To help further demystify predictive marketing, here are a few other misconceptions—
The Top 5 Myths Of B2C Predictive Marketing
Building Predictive Models Takes A Long Time
This was the case at one time, however advances in technology like machine learning and cloud computing have dramatically reduced the time it takes to build powerful and accurate models. With the right software, you can now build models on a daily or even hourly basis.From data preparation, to model building, to scoring prospects for campaigns – the process can be streamlined for better customer acquisition.
You Need Data Scientists, Statisticians or Analysts To Build Predictive Models
Predictive models can now be created easily in the cloud. It doesn’t require technical subject matter experts. Any marketer can build a solid model themselves in minutes, which is great, because there is still a human element and marketers are best suited for the job.A software platform can build a model (or a data scientist, if you have time and money to waste), but knowing the customer base and marketing strategy will enable the proper reasoning behind building a model in the first place.
Marketers can quickly grasp what they need to know about how modeling works. It has become an accessible discipline like content marketing or digital advertising. As you plan, build, and implement predictive models, your familiarity with predictive details like ‘tiles’, ‘scoring’, and ‘likelihoods’ increases over time.
More importantly, marketers know what to do with model results. They can rapidly run acquisition campaigns to predictive-based prospects and feed results back into the modeling software for continued campaign improvements and optimization.
Building Predictive Models Is Expensive
In-house, manual data science is expensive due to the team and resources required. Meanwhile, outsourced, manual model building can cost many thousands of dollars per model – that’s just for building and doesn’t cover the cost of implementation. Predictive software platforms are cutting overhead by using machine learning and algorithmic prospecting to automate the building of custom, sophisticated predictive programs. The result is better modeling and implementation than previously available, yet at a reduced cost.
Transactional Customer Data Is Sufficient To Build Predictive Models
Brands are rich in data. Or are they? Transactional customer data is an advantage, but by itself won’t let you find net-new customers, who have yet to purchase your product. You also need demographic, financial, and behavioral characteristics to determine who your best customers will be, beyond previous spending that occurred. Predictive software platforms are able to enrich existing customer transaction data with hundreds of other valuable pieces of information.
Likewise, third-party behavioral and community data is a vital resource that allows you to reach net-new customers and avoid ‘red oceans’. (Red oceans are where companies for limited pools of customers reducing them all to competing on price.) Predictive software processes external data to open up immense pools of relevant prospects, new to your brand, who will look and act like your best customers.
Predictive Models Don’t Work / They Aren’t Better Than Univariate Targeting
Targeting prospects based on a single variable or imagined personas are expiring solutions. Marketers have relied on simple targeting, because there wasn’t a better option. When trying to hone in on future buyers, it was better to identify at least one, or a few, meaningful variables that ostensibly indicated something important about customers or prospects. This has limitations in the real world. People are more complex that simple persona-based modeling or univariate targeting can account for.
As marketers, we’re used to making assumptions about our ideal customer and potential buyers. We’ve grown used to attributing traits to segments like “Eco-Conscious Moms,” based on anecdotal evidence or severely fragmented data, which – when put to the test – doesn’t correlate or predict future purchase behavior. It’s not our fault. Marketers chose the best criteria available, but have been missing the many hundreds of variables and characteristics that give a true and dynamic view of customers and can identify best prospects.
Try it – run a campaign with predictive-targeting versus a random or univariate selection and check the results. With a control group, you’ll clearly see the power and ROI of predictive prospecting.
The last remaining VCR manufacturer ended production last month, signaling the end of the Be Kind, Rewind Era.
To be honest, news that VCRs were still on assembly lines past the century mark is shocking, especially with the rise in digital video viewers. Even more remarkable are the advances we are seeing this year with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), underscored by the massive Pokémon Go audience.
It seems pretty clear that our methods of delivering video content have changed drastically. What hasn’t shifted over time is our fascination with video itself.
To date, live streaming video is available on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – with Instagram and Snapchat releasing their own versions of collected videos from live events. Two million VR headsets will be sold by the end of this year. Though, to be fair, this medium isn’t expected to go mainstream for another six to eight years. In technology, that feels like a lifetime.
Augmented reality, however, soared past virtual reality this year with the introduction of Pokémon Go. This location-based mobile app blends the real world and the fictional world for some insanely impressive video gaming. Some are concluding the gloss is fading, but 9.5 million users can’t be wrong…right?
From live streaming to virtual and augmented reality, I think it’s fair to say we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Where Video is Headed
Digital video natives are leading the way, tapping into cord cutter audiences that abandoned cable television for online and streaming programs.
Marketing your business can be overwhelming. As SEO becomes increasingly complex and Social Media becomes increasingly time-consuming, nothing could be more important or effective than spending time mapping out your very own opt-in funnel.
Having a great opt-in funnel can help you easily and effectively build your email list. Email marketing is still the #1 most effective digital marketing method. It should be comforting to know that the easiest marketing activity – creating and sending email – is still the most effective!
Unlike most other marketing activities, building an opt-in funnel is actually a very simple and straightforward process. Together we’ll go through each step so that you can feel confident building your very own.
In the past to accomplish this you would need to
Hire a developer to create you a new landing page
Embed a form and wire it to a CRM
Create a thank you page on your website
Create an email make it automatically send when your form is submitted
Thankfully technology has advanced and now anyone can create an opt-in funnel with a few clicks.
To create your opt-in funnel you’ll need 3 items:
A landing page with a form for your traffic to submit to.
A thank you page to thank your new visitor for their interest.
An Automatic responder email to immediately verify validity and deliverability of the new email address.
1. Choose a great landing page
2. Attach a great thank you page.
3. Automatically send your email.
An Automatic responder email will immediately verify validity and deliverability of the new email address, this keeps your email list clean. Immediately contacting your new subscriber is the “how you doing?” to their “hello”. Keep the conversation flowing and your business in their mind.
After you’ve chosen your landing page, your thank you page and your email you’re ready to tie them all together.
That’s it! Now that you know how to create an opt in funnel, head over to buildmytribez.com and make you own. You can create a complete funnel following our easy step by step video tutorials. No credit card required. Click here to check it out.
There was a time when the fact that the Hershey’s Kisses logo had an actual ‘Kiss’ nestled between the ‘K’ and the ‘I’ was cause enough for great speculation. Subliminal influence was a topic of debate and there was a clear divide in the masses. Some believed that slipping in provocative images and connotations beneath the conscious radar resulted in a greater proclivity for certain products while others rubbished the suggestion.
Since then neuro-marketing emerged as a valid science, bolstered by the efforts of prestigious research teams, and marketing as a practice was changed forever.
What is Neuro-Marketing?
It sounds complicated and positively evil. But neuro-marketing is something quite logical and progressive. It simply stands for analyzing the decision making process in human beings and then using the findings to boost the effectiveness of promotional campaigns.
FMRI scans have shown conclusive evidence that different factors influence how and why we choose to espouse particular brands and purchase their products even at a higher price than those of competitors. And unfortunately, logic and rational thinking have little to do with it.
Human beings are visceral creatures and they react to how a particular stimulus makes them “feel.”
Remember the Frito Lays campaign where Chester Cheetah encouraged people to commit subversive “Random Acts of Cheetos” with the snack? Well, that seemingly childish decision was based on hard facts. Neuroimaging of Cheetos fanatics showed that the orange dust from the puffs that smeared their fingers and their clothes caused them to relive childhood memories where they were reprimanded for being messy and simultaneously gave them the satisfaction of knowing that there was no “authority figure” to comment on their clumsiness this time around. The 30-second spots reinforced this independent guilty pleasure capitalizing on an emotion that was already causing sales spikes.
And it won the 2009 Grand Ogilvy Award from the Advertising Research Foundation.
While it is not feasible or financially viable for every brand to bring in buyers and prospects for neuro imaging, there are a few ground rules of neuro-marketing that have been spotted as a common thread across multiple experiments. These triggers are known as “cognitive biases” and they pre-dispose us to acting in a certain way when exposed to certain stimuli.
The Biggest Tenet of Neuro-Marketing
Even if businesses disregard everything else neuro-marketing propounds, they need to keep one truth in mind: Emotions trump logic. Especially in today’s fast paced world of information overload.
Buyers and prospects struggle with similar problems of dwindling attention spans. There are too many demands being made on the mental resources of an individual and unable to cope with this onslaught, people delegate more and more decisions to the infinitely powerful subconscious (which, by the way, can process 40 million bits of information in a second compared to the 40 bits that the logical brain supports).
But here’s the catch: the subconscious is not persuaded by statistics or arguments. It has a knee-jerk reaction to inputs and responds strongly to emotions of all kinds. Persuasion marketer Bushra Azhar calls these emotions the “8 Persuasion Switches” and they include Prestige, Urgency, Curiosity, Believability and Relatability among others.
If an advertisement can reach and touch any of these persuasion switches in a way that is direct and simple, yet powerful, then closing a deal or pushing the lead towards conversion becomes child’s play. This hypothesis has been extensively tested and confirmed by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. In fact, emotional campaigns have an effectiveness quotient of 31% while logic centered promotions score a low 16%.
Shaky About Diving In? Give Personalization a Shot.
Some marketers might be in two minds about diving straight into neuro-marketing. If you’re in this category, a small taste of the benefits can come in the form of personalization. Personalization is the process of tailoring generic content so that it appeals to specific users or user groups and flips the relatability switch for greater interest and engagement.
It can be something as simple and effective as using triggered emails to offer a discount on items in an abandoned shopping cart or as complex as tailoring the whole homepage to visitors’ preferences according to their buyer personas. The former can be done using an email marketing platform like GetResponse that allows for behavior-based list segmentation and the setup of emails auto initiated for particular events/actions while the latter is the specialty of suites like Personyze, which offers customized search, product recommendations, layouts sorted and filtered in real-time, and other advanced options.
Some Obvious-But-Clever Neuro-Marketing Tricks
Both B2B and B2C marketers can see a potentially tremendous difference in their campaign results and content engagement if they can apply the following techniques smartly and ethically:
A picture speaks a thousand words; a video, a million. It’s no secret that the human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than dry text; if that content is primed to deliver a powerful subliminal message, then it’s a match made in heaven.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign was a testament to this fact. It showed advertising visuals running backwards and drove home the futility of bringing in recalled governor Gray Davis who would simply regress California to more trying times. There were no numbers screaming the sincerity of Schwarzenegger’s efforts. Nor was there any mudslinging involved. The promotional team simply captured the worry in the hearts of Californians and gave it voice (and eyeballs).
We humans are hardwired to believe and set store by the first bit of information that we encounter. We take it as the foundation to base our future opinions on. This is why it is important to carefully “screen” the thoughts and beliefs that children (and shoppers) develop over their formative years because the inputs they assimilate contribute to their personality in a big way.
Marketers already leverage anchoring bias to price their products. Astute business owners always display their most expensive package first to condition prospects into believing that the other bundles are more affordable! Setting a reference point is essential, because it has the potential to positively affect what comes later by making it seem better, more lucrative, and more efficient than it actually is.
In the image above, the monthly option is actually not as cost effective as the yearly payment. But the 9.95 seems insignificant compared to the 95.50, which brings in a 20% saving, yet is disregarded by prospective clients.
Social Proof (with video)
Social proof is everywhere. It has the potential to "drive" the bandwagon effect.
But very few marketers manage to get it right. Social proof is not a Facebook Like button. Although Facebook is an integral part of our lives, it hasn’t yet grown a pull and familiarity that we subconsciously relate to.
The best kind of social proof is a video testimonial. Because humans are unerringly drawn to other human faces. As a matter of fact, WebDAM has found that video testimonials boost conversions by close to 86%. Statistics show that 4 to 7 video snippets can tip the emotions of a buyer strongly in favor of the featured product; their mere presence is a game changer.
Thus, it’s a no-brainer for businesses to ditch phony text testimonials and like-gathering for real video recommendations from actual customers – that’s what lends real credibility and trust.
Marketo does an amazing job of utilizing the bandwagon effect in the form of video proof. In fact, they mix this potent bias with influencer marketing to score a home run.
When an individual invests a large sum of money (or any personal resource like time or effort) somewhere, he or she often goes to great lengths to uphold the validity of the decision, even at the cost of losing better service or more affordable pricing from other providers.
In persuasion language, the “prestige” switch flipped by the acquisition of the costly product refuses to shut down. It is difficult to look beyond the glamor and the exclusivity of the item and consider practical pros and cons. Under such circumstances, if an iteration of that same product with purportedly better features hits the market, the evangelists are compelled to upgrade, even if their conscious mind is well aware of the limitations of doing so.
Is anyone else reminded of Apple’s strategy and how well it fits this curve? As a marketer, you’d do well to embrace the pro-innovation bias, which Steve Jobs was probably afflicted by.
Over to You
Neuro-marketing will soon be ubiquitous as businesses realize there is a lot to gain by appealing to culturally and societally pre-programmed biases. Are you ready to ace your competition?
In 2014, YouTube reached more 18-34, and 18-49 year olds than any cable network
Time they spent on YouTube shot up 44% percent, with mobile viewing making up the largest source of growth
YouTube accounted for 51 percent of time spent watching premium digital video* in December 2014 across desktop streaming, smartphones, and tablets among key adult demographics, specifically adults 18-34 and 18-49.
Where does this leave us?
Live TV viewing in on a downward trend, streaming services are on an upward trend, and YouTube is the clear leader in digital video platforms. Researchers across the industry believe these trends will continue year over year in the near and distant future.
Time spent watching TV content is down overall. It is important to note however, that the popularity of this content is not in question, but where the eyeballs go, that’s what is changing. Moreover, viewing TV content on YouTube is increasing year over year, along with using YouTube to consume new content.
So, how can you capitalize on the YouTube train? Here are a few ideas.
Replace some TV ad spend with YouTube ad spend. This doesn’t mean spend more, just allocate differently. According to a study done by Google of 3,000 U.S. companies, they found that had companies taken this approach dual ad approach, they would have reached 42% more millennials alone.
Invest in YouTube ads. A recent Google study found that people were 23x more likely to visit or subscribe to a brand channel if they watched a YouTube ad. So, invest in a YouTube Ad, and create a valuable platform to increase brand awareness and potentially dedicated audience to market to.
A similar study showed that YouTube Ads increased the value of past content. When brands ran YouTube Ads, they saw views of their previous content increase up to 500%!
Do you Youtube? We’d love to know. Let us know how YouTube fits into your digital marketing strategy in the comments section below.