Why customer storytelling is critical to your marketing mix

Why customer storytelling is critical to your marketing mix

Customer advocacy, also known as word of mouth marketing, is one of, if not the, most powerful marketing tools brands have today. Why? Because consumers trust third-party reviews, endorsements, and recommendations from real people far more than ‘cold’ marketing or advertising messages. 

In fact, research suggests a 12 per cent increase in advocacy (done well) can represent up to a 200 per cent increase in revenue. Customer advocates are also 50 per cent more likely to influence a purchasing decision and two times more likely to generate sales than paid advertising. Meanwhile, 92 per cent of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.

One of the most critical B2B marketing mix components is having a robust and scalable customer advocacy program. Having your customers explain how they use your product to solve their problems in a clear, authentic way is key to marketing and selling your B2B solution.

Customer advocacy too often ends up in the ‘too hard basket.’

Despite the benefits of customer storytelling, 80 per cent of companies don’t like leverage advocates in their inbound marketing, and 58 per cent of companies don’t even know who the brand advocates are. 

So why is this the case? From our experience, we’ve all too often seen companies place customer advocacy in the ‘too hard basket. 

Approaching customers and getting their buy-in becomes manually intensive; producing the content internally becomes laborious and time-intensive. Then amplifying the content across the right paid and organic channels becomes a logistical nightmare.

Suddenly, simply running an ad just seems so much ‘easier’ in comparison. You set it up, automate, boom. But what happens when you turn off those ads? Your marketing stops.

Meanwhile, the cost of digital advertising is rising five times faster than inflation, even though 30 per cent of all internet users are now using ad blockers, and among both Millennials and Gen Xers, there is a consistent rise in ad blindness.

However, when done right, customer stories are the ‘gifts that keep on giving.’ They remain on your site, PR, social and marketing channels, on your sales slides, and on partner sites for months, if not years.

That’s why they’re called marketing ‘assets’. You get sustained ROI from them over time. And that’s why more and more agencies are so passionate about driving, scaling and amplifying customer advocacy content within their marketing strategies.

As the famous RockstarCX James Dodkins says, “find those organic stories, the stories that customers share themselves online, not the ones they’ve been ‘coerced’ to tell. If you’re going to be putting systems in place to find these authentic stories, then really make a big deal of them, share them!”

How to streamline and scale customer advocacy

First of all, your C-Suite needs to understand and value the business and commercial benefits of customer storytelling and advocacy. This needs to be cemented from the top and trickle itself down.

Next, employ a dedicated internal customer advocacy manager who is seasoned and can orchestrate a scalable and sustainable program that can be integrated with demand generation and inbound marketing, plus aligned with sales strategy.

Thirdly, invest in a seasoned media and marketing partner who understands strategic customer advocacy marketing. A specialist partner can help streamline internal strategy, scale internal efforts and produce suitable content streams, such as webinars, events, videos, use cases, sales slides and media campaigns. These can then be integrated into a holistic inbound campaign aligned with sales KPIs.

The future is customer-centric

There’s ample evidence that consumers trust ads less and want more personalised experiences. Putting the customer front and centre of your marketing efforts showcases how much you value the customer experience.

At the same time, your customer champions get additional marketing and media exposure, which in turn helps them enjoy an experience beyond the product or service you provide to them. It all starts with a mindset shift. Are you ready? 

To understand more about the role of customer storytelling and the impact it has to play on your marketing strategy, talk to the team here at CSMG digital.

Article courtesy of Marketingmag.com and Azadeh Williams, Founder and Managing Partner of AZK Media.

Australian consumers demand hyper-personalisation – new report reveals

Australian consumers demand hyper-personalisation – new report reveals

The way to engage with Australian consumers is through real-time, hyper-personalised experiences; a new eConsultancy report, in partnership with Cheetah Digital, reveals.

Entitled 2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index: Consumer Attitudes and Trends in Personalisation, Privacy, Messaging, Advertising and Brand Loyalty. The global report looks at consumer attitudes and year over year trends in personalisation, privacy, messaging, advertising and brand loyalty based on survey insights collected from more than 5,400 consumers across six countries. 

The report details consumer preferences and what they expect from the brands they buy from, the channels, and formats they prefer to communicate, the type of data they’re willing to share, and the terms under which they’re eager to share it.

The pandemic continues to reverberate throughout the marketing landscape.

The publishing of this data comes at a critical time, as the effects of the pandemic continue to reverberate throughout the marketing landscape. 

While some consumer behaviours and attitudes remained the same, many others quickly changed. Shifts that once took years to emerge are taking place in weeks, pushing brands to arm themselves with the latest data to keep up and respond appropriately. 

“The path to customer acquisition has evolved from a relatively straightforward train track to a bowl of spaghetti, with multiple channels and formats to navigate,” said Tim Glomb, VP of content at Cheetah Digital. “Brands can no longer get away with lumping customers into segments but instead must treat them as individuals. 

As a result, this requires developing authentic relationships, offering actual value exchange, and interpreting the right customer signals at the right time in the right channel. 

This report offers brands an extraordinary opportunity to assess their ability to create and execute campaigns that meet and exceed consumers’ growing demand for more personalisation, more privacy, and a deeper relationship with the brands they know and trust. From an Australian perspective, these include

Email marketing reigns supreme.

The report shows that email continues to sit comfortably as the Australian consumers’ preferred channel for receiving offers, content, incentives, and rewards from brands. 

 

When it comes to driving sales, email remains one of the most effective channels, beating banner ads, social media ads, organic posts, and SMS by up to 228% in Australia, which is 120% higher than consumers globally. Half of the consumers report purchasing a product directly due to an email they received in the last 12 months.

Price isn’t the only loyalty driver.

The cheapest price point is only one factor of loyalty. Today, Australian consumers are loyal to brands that create emotional bonds by fostering community, recognising their customers as individuals, and delivering bespoke offers and product recommendations. Globally 57% of consumers say they are prepared to pay more to buy from a preferred brand, whereas in Australia, 63% of consumers are willing to pay more to purchase from a favoured brand.

“When done correctly, loyalty programs govern the value exchange between brands and consumers, and not just for a single interaction but for direct engagement over the customer lifetime. With contextually differentiated, personalised experiences, they can be the conduit for the one-to-one relationships that build customer lifetime value,” says Cheetah Digital’s VP for APAC, Billy Loizou.

Greater personalisation yields ROI and long-term consumer excitement

In the value exchange economy, Australian consumers are rewarding brands that prioritise personalisation, with more than half saying they will trade personal and preference data to feel part of a brand’s community. 

At the same time, there’s been nearly a 50% increase in Australian consumers who feel frustrated with a brand whose personalisation initiatives don’t recognise their unique desires and needs.

“Marketers need first to create a strategy that involves getting closer to their customers. Customers are saying, ‘We’re happy to provide our data and sign up to your marketing program in exchange for offers sent directly to me that are relevant,” says Loizou.

 

Trust in advertising is on the decline.

As Google and other browsers cement their plans to curtail third-party cookie tracking comprehensively, consumers get even more proactive about protecting their online privacy. As a result, marketers must shift to a first- and zero-party data strategy to power their advertising and marketing initiatives. 

More than half of Australian consumers (63%) don’t trust social media platforms with their data. And 69% share they believe cookie tracking is “creepy”.

“People just don’t know what these social media platforms are doing with their data,” Loizou points out. “When Cambridge Analytica happened, many people started losing trust in social platforms, so consumers want more control over their data and know-how their data is being used.”

The complete 2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index is free to download and can be accessed here https://www.cheetahdigital.com/report/digital-consumer-trends-index-2022?utm_source=azk-media&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=content-hub&sf_campaign_id=7016M000001416eQAA&utm_campaign=en-consumer-index-2022

Six Trends Reshaping The Brand Experience Landscape

Six Trends Reshaping The Brand Experience Landscape

The global pandemic and accelerated brands’ shift to digital have changed the way marketers envision virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face engagements. The challenges caused by COVID-19 restrictions has reshaped the brand experience landscape with new and exciting opportunities to grab. 

A small network of Merged Media agencies, Red Havas, recently published a report, “A News Lens on Brand Experience.” It covers six key trends in brand experience. This blog elaborates on these six trends with different ways to leverage them in marketing for a business such as eCommerce and the digital space. 

Red Havas from www.brandinginasia.com

Brand Experience In The Last Two Years

The last couple of years has changed everything we think we know about marketing. Brand experience and customer engagement have been redefined, with marketers needing to create new experiences at home and out of the office. Here’s how the brand experience landscape shifted:

  • Major shifts in how customers were behaving online 
  • Newer ways of engaging with customers were found
  • Brands try to remain relevant by finding newer ways to connect with the COVID-19 audience
  • Social commerce evolved as a newer way to make sales
  • Customer Experience, CX, became the most important part of brand experience

Brands discovered newer opportunities to engage with their customers, paving the way for exciting developments in 2022—naturally, a lot of trends developed in brand marketing. 

The Six Top Trends in Brand Experience Marketing

Marketers can tap into any of the 6 trends in brand experience marketing to get the most out of a strategy with high ROI. The best way to leverage trends is to incorporate them into your brand strategy. Leave it to Cloud Sea Media Group professionals to ensure your business is relevant and trending through a wide range of customisable services

New E-commerce Experiments

In 2022, major brands will completely reimagine the in-store customer experience. It marks a shift towards more interactive buying experiences, as customers reengage with physical stores looking for brand storytelling and social shopping experiences.

We’ll see the continued merging of experiential and retail in 2022, with brands reimagining physical spaces as destinations for customers. The pandemic accelerated this shift and will further change how customers expect to shop in-store.

Wanderlust Experiences Triumph

The rising trend in the world of brand experience is escapist experiential. It means that brands find newer ways to grab fleeting human attention through entertainment.

It is the use of the elusive approach where brands provide people with a way to escape their everyday lives. Escapist experiential, therefore, becomes a powerful tool to captivate audiences and to engage and entertain. 

Immerging Into The Metaverse

Get ready to experience the metaverse, where virtual and physical worlds merge through virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. The immersive technology will have people interacting with a 3D computer-generated environment.

In recent years, virtual reality has been the talk of the town. But unless we discover a seamless way to jump between worlds with wearable devices, we won’t be able to take off with this. However, this year, we see brands explore components that make up the metaverse, such as gaming, 3D designs, AR, and VR systems. 

Co-create With The Audience

Allowing people to create a marketing campaign and a brand is an initiative that is booming in the industry. People generally love to be a part of creating something in exchange for recognition, such as brand shoutouts or reshares. 

Brands are no longer creating content for the audience but with them. Rather than anticipating cultural influences, letting people create it themselves has been the mindset. By giving audiences the tools, resources, and opportunities to play an active role in their brand story, they build relationships and develop brand loyalty in ways beyond the campaign. 

Personalised Experiences is Still King

Data has grown to play a prominent role in marketing in recent years. Without data, a personalised brand experience can be challenging to achieve. 

As we enter the experience age, consumers demand more from their brands, such as understanding their individual needs and responding with hyper individualisation and micro experiences to create enriching online/offline experiences. 

Individualisation, micro experiences, and hyper-personalisation offer the perfect opportunity to engage audiences in a way that’s enriching for them and your brand.

Inclusive And Diverse Experiences

New opportunities are developing to provide experiences that include everyone. The growing focus on online and offline experiences allows for creative ways to expand as a brand and tap into newer markets by forging meaningful relationships. 

For instance, live-captioning of events can provide an inclusive experience to hard of hearing viewers. Different ways to be diverse and inclusive are now an essential part of the planning process and play a prominent role in determining the marketing strategy. The key is to include accommodations in your plans should there be a need. 

Key Takeaways 

The brand experience landscape is shifting towards finding newer ways to engage with customers in meaningful ways. Companies are looking to build deep relationships with their customers. While these are the top 6 trends, there are several other important ones. 

A critical trend in brand experiences is sustainable stories. Brands that will lead the sustainable drive as more consumers look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint will always have an edge in the market. Others include rising demand for real-life brand experiences opening new opportunities in the leisure and entertainment market. 

Staying on top of marketing trends can be quite a headache. You have nothing to worry about when you have Cloud Sea Media Group providing all kinds of marketing services dedicated to ensuring that you make relevant and meaningful connections with your customers. 

Nail Your Brand Strategy In 2022

Trends are always short-lived and keep changing very fast. It can be challenging to stay on top of the trends while running a business. Still, here are some ways to stay ahead of the competition at all times:

  • Create a detailed brand strategy with information about your colour palette, content for SEO, and fonts. 

  • Make sure to do in-depth market research when creating your brand strategy. 

  • Upgrade your technologies to predict consumer behaviours to predict trends accurately. 

  • Use data collection and analysis for insights into problems and optimise experiences. 

  • ROI should be your decision-maker. 

Running a business, keeping up with changing marketing trends and creating brand experiences that engage with your audience can be exhaustive. That is why you need to get in touch with Cloud Sea Media Group to handle all your digital and social marketing needs while focusing on growing your business. 

Influencer Trends in 2022 – What does the Landscape Look Like

Influencer Trends in 2022 - What does the Landscape Look Like?

The influencer marketing industry is set for explosive growth, building on impressive gains made in recent years. Here we take a look at the 2022 trends in influencer marketing.

Recent studies forecast that 72.5 per cent of US marketers from companies with 100 or more employees will use influencer marketing in 2022. These numbers were up from 70 per cent in 2021. 

https://www.businessinsider.com/influencer-marketing-important-for-brands-2021

At the same time, eMarketer has forecast that US spending on influencer marketing will climb to $4.14 billion this year. On a global scale, Influencer Marketing Hub has estimated that the industry will grow to a collective $16.4 billion in 2022.

Influencers across a broad range of social media platforms – from TikTok and Instagram to Twitch and YouTube – are driving an evolution of the eCommerce space.

 

 

But it won’t be just B2C brands that champion this segment growth. B2B players are eager to demonstrate social proof while tapping into new content and audiences. This is driving a new focus on influencer discovery, recruitment, and engagement.

A more significant share of influencer marketing budgets will go to nano- and micro-influencers as brands prioritise content creation over audience reach. While TikTok may have paved the way for such possibilities, other social platforms have quickly followed suit and have expanded their creator tools for smaller influencers.

Influencer marketing predictions

Here are some of the trends that will define influencer marketing in the year ahead.

More sophisticated tools an incredible 50 million people considered themselves to be part of the creator economy in 2020, according to eMarketer. That number is only set to soar in the wake of the pandemic, work-from-home orders, and the Great Resignation.

As more people brand themselves creators and seek to monetise their audiences, the race will be on to define the value proposition to prospective brand partners clearly. 

 

 

Social media platforms will need to provide creators with better monetisation and monitoring tools. TikTok has already demonstrated how quickly a new entrant can establish a dominant position in the market.

Closing the cookie jar

Third-party cookies have defined the modern marketing landscape. There’s been plenty written on the death of the cookie, and there’s little to be gained in rehashing it. Instead, it’s worth considering how influencers represent a safe harbour for digital marketing professionals.

Influencers don’t have audiences; followers aspire to the lifestyles of those who subscribe to social media. Most influencers are in a niche segment – health and wellbeing. As the industry talks about “cohorts” as a replacement for cookies, influencers have already achieved this.

An auditory and visual feast

Podcasts and short-form videos emerged as a panacea to the concept of being time-poor. Time poverty doesn’t just exist in relation to work or household responsibilities; it also reflects the overabundance of media consumption options.

Few of us have much time left over to consume media between sleep, work, friends, and family. In the previous century, technology was a limiter on the scope of our media consumption. 

The internet has fundamentally changed that dynamic, bringing a wealth of options that has created the paradox of choice.

Audio and visual mediums are simply more engaging than text for most and will continue to grab market share in the coming years.

Influencers as partners

Brands will seek to work more closely with their influencers. These relationships see influencers being treated as partners rather than contractors.

 

 

Influencers know their followers better than a brand does. This means there are valuable insights for marketing executives to gain that can then be applied across broader demographics.

Influencer and affiliate marketing in the consumer journey

The consumer journey has become incredibly complex in the wake of the digital marketing revolution. Consumers will see and interact with hundreds of touchpoints before making a purchase.

Influencers offer a wave of introducing the consumer to a brand, product, and service, but empowering them to convert the consumer helps brands streamline the sales funnel.

Every little bit helps. As such, expect to see a greater convergence between influencer and affiliate marketing activities, which will generate an uplift in conversion rates and allow brands to more fully assess the value of their marketing spend.

Nano and micro-influencers: good things, small packages

This focus on assessing value in the consumer journey has already led to the rise of the nano and micro-influencer.

These influencers offer an attractive value proposition not because they are a cheaper alternative to macro-influencers but because they frequently boost much higher engagement levels.

Small-scale influencers interact more significantly with their followers, who do not see themselves as part of a homogenised audience. This allows them to drive brand loyalty and customer retention.

Influencer marketing in the affiliate space

Here are our key recommendations on what to evaluate when considering influencer marketing within the affiliate space.

Understand influencers’ channels

Influencers rarely rely on a sole social media platform, frequently leaning on secondary channels to augment their communications.

Brands should carefully audit an influencer’s reach and their own marketing materials to decide how best to promote products and services. Certain products, services and even creative formats will work better on some channels than others.

Forge closer ties

Influencers are not sales staff. Their followers are accustomed to their personas and understand when they are promoting or shilling a brand. Engagement levels will reflect this. Partner with your chosen influencer to know how best to reach their audience. The aim is trust.

Invest, don’t hire

Think of your influencers as an investment. Don’t see payment as the only means of motivation, but rather ensure that you have open lines of communication and offer opportunities to collaborate when suitable.

Consider investing in them – either with money or training – to make them a better advocate for your brand.

Make a stand, carefully.

While millennials may be the most open to social influences, they are also the most socially minded. Most millennials believe that the companies they buy from should align with their own beliefs and values.

Against this backdrop, brands need to have a clear mission statement and be careful in selecting the influencers they partner with.

Thanks to Emily Do, the APAC region events and marketing manager at Commission Factory. This article first appeared in https://www.marketingmag.com.au/hubs-c/influencer-marketing-in-2022-key-trends