66% Feel Deceived by Content Marketing

July 25th, 2014


Content MarketingBy Maura Mitchell

Content marketing is one of the hottest marketing trends, but the majority of consumers dislike it. In fact, most would prefer to interact with banner ads instead of sponsored content, one of the mainstays of content marketing.

Why? The majority of Americans do not know what “sponsored content” means, even when it is clearly labeled. The most common misperception is that an advertiser funded the article, but did not influence its point of view.

When consumers understand that the content was written for a brand, 54% of them distrust it. That means native ads are trusted as much as a company’s website, but less than a banner ad.

Only 18% of Americans think native ads are more engaging than banner ads, undercutting a key rationale for content marketing.

The more educated the consumer, the more negatively they feel about sponsored content and the less likely they are to engage with it.

Despite these issues that emerged in a recent survey from Contently, there is hope for content marketing. Whether consumers read and trust native ads correlates with how much they like the sponsoring brand. Plus, the more creative the content, the more likely readers are to engage with it.

You’re Completely Missing 27% of Consumers

April 2nd, 2014


By Maura Mitchell

Your digital marketing is not connecting with over a quarter of all Americans. They never see any of it: not your search marketing. Not your videos. Not your content marketing. And certainly not your social media.

That’s because they aren’t on the Internet in a meaningful way. A surprisingly high 15% of adults never use the Internet. Never. Another 9% only have access at work. And, 3% are restricted to dial-up capability. That means 27% of consumers who have money in their pockets can only be reached via traditional media.

Who are the un-wired?

Hispanics, rural consumers, those with household incomes under $50,000, and people over 60 are over-represented. A quarter of Hispanics and 20% of those living outside the suburbs are not online. Consumers have a variety of reasons for not embracing the Internet. Not having enough time and not being interested in what’s online are the top drivers. Being frustrated or intimidated by technology is the next most common rationale. Cost is also a significant barrier.

Interestingly, very few people who are offline plan to change their status anytime soon. 92% say they have no interest in going online.

The Untapped Potential of Mobile Shopping

March 17th, 2014


Shopping with Mobile Phone

M commerce is growing rapidly. 29% of Americans made a purchase with their mobile device in the past year. One in five almost never shop without their smartphone, using it to research, purchase, or do both 90%+ of the time. That group, called the Uber Digitals, has almost doubled in the latest 12 months.

Cell phones are often part of a multi-step shopping process. 70% of smartphone owners research products on their device then buy them in-store. A similar percentage start shopping on their mobile and complete the purchase on their PC.

But, everything is not unicorns and rainbows in the world of mobile commerce. 37% of consumers say security worries stop them from buying via cellphone. One third find the screen size and often kludgy mobile websites impossible to navigate. A significant group are stymied by the need to type so much information into such a small device.

Shopping is at the bottom of consumers’ list of smartphone activities. It lags far behind social networking, communications, productivity, and game apps.

What would convince Americans to buy more on their mobiles? Consumers’ top two wishes are the ability to check stock in nearby stores and receive personalized promotions before they go shopping

How Many Fake Fans and Followers Do You Have?

February 26th, 2014

Fake fans

A significant portion of your likes and followers are phony if you run social media for a business. And that’s hurting your social ROI.

Before you delete this newsletter saying, “This doesn’t apply to me, I have never bought fans or paid for likes,” hear me out. Even if you only grow your social following organically, you still have false fans.

Facebook recently reported that between 5.5% and 11.2% of its profiles are fraudulent. That translates to 67 to 137 million accounts. This revelation comes after Facebook deleted millions of fake accounts in Fall 2012. Twitter and YouTube have not shared statistics, but there is every reason to believe their percentages are similar.

Here’s where it gets tricky. The top motivation for creating zombie accounts is to sell likes and followers. But, social networks have systems in place to spot that. To disguise what they are doing, fake profiles like a wide range of innocent businesses as well as those they are paid to follow. That’s how you end up with false fans.

While fake followers may seem innocuous, they undermine your social media’s impact. Those fans do not engage, so they influence the algorithm that determines how many true consumers see your posts. Additionally, they mislead businesses about their social media reach, which influences the perception of which tactics are most effective.

Americans’ Newest Media Addiction

February 6th, 2014


Almost half of the US population regularly binges on TV shows. That means they watch between 2 and 6 episodes at one sitting via on demand, Netflix, Hulu or some other streaming mechanism.

These marathon viewing sessions are not being done by lonely couch potatoes eating family sized bags of chips while watching 20 hours of non-stop Hobo Kelly reruns.

Instead, bingeing is a social activity. 51% of consumers binge with another person and most will delay watching their favorite show until others are available. The content being viewed is almost evenly split between current and older shows, with series like Breaking Bad topping the bingeing charts.

Binge viewing makes people feel good. They enjoy taking control of when and where they see shows. Plus, they like the added escapism that comes from watching multiple episodes back-to-back. In fact, the majority of people who stream any TV content say they prefer to binge rather than view single shows.

Currently, 73% of binge watchers do so via a TV set, 22% via a computer and 3% on a tablet. However, among 18-29 year olds only 50% binge view on a TV set, while 42% use a computer and 6% watch on a tablet.

Are You Ignoring This Powerful Marketing Tool?

January 23rd, 2014


Email is the second most powerful digital marketing tactic after organic search. It trumps social media for driving sales and capturing high value customers. It also creates more positive consumer reactions.

Last year businesses acquired 7 times more customers with email than social media. That’s partially because 50% more consumers use marketing emails than social media during their shopping process. Shoppers acquired via email spent 11% more than those captured from social.

Consumers think marketing emails are more useful than social media. 75% saved money with a brand/retailer email versus 56% with social media. Shoppers also give email higher marks for making shopping easier and helping them feel smarter. But, social beats email for making shopping fun.

There are many reasons why email is so effective. First, consumers sign up to receive it so they want to be engaged. Second, checking email is consumers’ #1 digital activity. Finally, emails have richer content than most social posts.

Email marketing is becoming even more effective, with higher open rates and click throughs in 2013 than 2012. In December, for the first time ever, more than half of all emails were opened on a smartphone.

Just to be clear…I’m not saying social media isn’t important. But, it’s critical to remember that email is a customer acquisition workhorse and deserves lots of attention too.

Get Ready for Bitcoin

January 9th, 2014



Bitcoin, a digital currency invented 5 years ago, is going mainstream with Overstock.com’s announcement they will accept the tender by mid-2014. Here’s what you need to know to take advantage of the trend.

  • Bitcoin is an electronic currency that uses cryptography to enable secure transactions. It is not backed by a government.
  • This month Zynga (owners of FarmVille) and Overstock.com both announced they will honor the currency soon.
  • The number of businesses accepting Bitcoin tripled in the month of December 2013. Bond, a New York City real estate brokerage, is just one of the recent converts.
  • Bitcoin is attractive to merchants because it lets them avoid credit card fees, saving 3%+ per transaction.
  • The currency helps companies reach new target markets. Consumers with Bitcoin are passionate about supporting businesses that accept it.
  • Bitcoin is being taken seriously by the financial sector. Bank of America Merrill Lynch just released a research report on the currency and Wall Street firms are advertising for Bitcoin traders.
  • There are over 12 million Bitcoin in circulation with a market value of almost $9 billion.
  • There are still some wrinkles to be resolved. The value of Bitcoin can fluctuate widely and quickly. Governments are still deciding how to regulate and tax it. Detractors say these factors will lead to Bitcoin’s decline. Supporters say those issues will be resolved as the currency spreads.

9 Things You Need to Know About Online Video

November 21st, 2013



Are you thinking about producing online videos for your business? Are you already running video ads and wondering if they are optimized? Below are nine fast facts to answer your questions.

  • 78% of online adults watch web videos.
  • 65% of tablet owners watch over an hour of video daily on their device.
  • Millennials watch more web videos on their smartphones than on any other device.
  • Multi-tasking while watching videos and TV shows is the norm, with less than 20% of viewers paying full attention regardless of the device.
  • Video ads viewed on smartphones and tablets are much more likely to be remembered than TV commercials.
  • Even with smartphones, the most common video watching location is the couch. The bed is in second place across all devices, including TV.
  • Americans are most attentive to videos when they watch them in bed. Really. (I think there may be an opportunity for Brandology to start a relationship advice newsletter…)
  • Commercials in the middle of videos are much more likely to capture viewers’ attention than pre-roll.
  • Consumers are 3 times more likely to quit watching a video because it loads too slowly than because it contains commercials.

Time to Get Serious About Flipboard

November 7th, 2013



When you hear Flipboard is a “mobile news reader” it doesn’t sound like an interesting marketing medium.

When you learn it has 90 million users, gets 7 billion page views per month, and features ads that look like beautiful print spreads, you’ll probably change your mind.

Flipboard is an app that allows users to subscribe to magazines and flip through them with a finger swipe. It includes traditional print properties like Vanity Fair and Bon Appetit, plus magazines created by brands.

Magazines from Levi’s, Cisco, and Target are producing results. 10% of consumers who engage once subscribe and the average reader views 20 to 40 pages per issue.

Marketers who aren’t ready to commit to producing a brand magazine can run ads in Flipboard magazines from the likes of Esquire, People, and InStyle. Time and Fortune will join Flipboard in December.

Flipboard users are an attractive target market. They are relatively evenly split between men and women. 86% are college educated, and over half have household incomes above $100,000.

The app is catching on rapidly. Readership has almost doubled since April 2013, and monthly page views have increased by 1 billion over the same time period.

Will Webrooming Cancel Showrooming?

October 16th, 2013


During the holiday season last year, everyone was talking about showrooming: consumers going to brick and mortar stores to check out products and then buying them online.

This year, the hot new topic is webrooming. It’s defined as Americans researching items at online stores and then buying them in physical outlets.

According to Accenture, the two behaviors will be almost equally popular this holiday season with 63% of shoppers saying they will showroom and 65% planning to webroom.

Consumers have a variety of reasons for webrooming. The top three are to avoid shipping charges, needing to see and feel a product before buying it, and wanting to be able to return the item to a physical store, if necessary.

Shoppers’ primary motivation for showrooming is to find lower prices. Most consumers use their smartphone to do real-time price comparisons in-store. However, very few shoppers actually buy the product with their mobile while at a retail outlet. The vast majority return home to make the purchase on their PC.

Americans also plan to use other savvy shopping strategies this holiday season. 45% intend to take advantage of retailers’ competitive price matching programs and 36% anticipate purchasing items online for pick-up in store.