Social Media

6 Things You are Doing on Social Media to Irritate Your Audience

RobinHiggins / Pixabay
Since the inception of Social Media Marketing many business owners think they can manage the strategy themselves and that by posting anything to their page, especially company related content, will generate good engagement and reach. Mistakenly thinking that just keeping the page active will keep their audience interested.
Not true!
Adobe recently conducted a study of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. that outlines what annoys these folks most about the content businesses are sharing socially. They found that 3 out of 5 people experiencing one of the situations below would prevent them from making a purchase.

Content is too wordy or poorly written.
Content is poorly designed.
Content is old or stale.
Content isn’t personalized or relevant.
Content isn’t optimized for a particular device.
Content doesn’t contain any videos or images.

1. Too Wordy/Poorly Written
While grammar errors happen, it is important to note that people find updates that are too wordy or poorly written a big turnoff.
80% of people skim content when reading online. And the average person only reads 28% of text on a website (Nielsen). Thus, it is imperative that you are concise and accurate with your language, explain what is necessary and review the content for spelling or grammar errors and make sure it is understandable. While perfection isn’t always practical, keep in mind consumers what easily digestible and understandable content.
2. Poor Design
The brain likes images far more than it likes text. In fact, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster (3M).
Create content with eye-catching and interesting images will help to convert Social Media consumers into customers. Unattractive content will lessen the effectiveness of your message and lower your potential for conversions.
3. Old/Stale Updates
Updates don’t last forever, in fact while Pinterest posts are valid for 4 months and YouTube updates last for about 20 days. A LinkedIn update is good for about 24 hours and Facebook posts are visible for around 5 hours. Twitter tweets have roughly an 18-minute lifespan.
If you are using Facebook or Twitter to market it is necessary to create content that will grab users’ attention, in addition to creating fresh content throughout the day. Though it is a fine line, you don’t want to create too much content, but you need to create enough to stay relevant and visible throughout the day. Keeping content fresh daily is a must.
4. Personalization and Relevance Matter
People prefer content that relates to their personal situations. It is important to consider your audience when creating content for your updates. Stay true to your industry and your brand, while meeting the needs of your audience. Relevance and relatability of your content will make your business the resource for consumers.
5. Optimization
There are countless devices people use to access their Social Accounts online. While each has a different screen size or format, you still need to take this into consideration.
Facebook recommends creating content for mobile devises as a best practice as most Social Media is accessed via mobile device.
Make your content generic enough to fit most devices, while still making it eye-catching and engaging.
6. Video and Images Matter
93% of all human communication is almost non-verbal, which means that our brains prefer to perceive visual cues (DMP).
Consumers prefer content with a video or fun imagery to just plain text-only updates. Each Social Media platform is skewed toward using photos and videos. Good design and video should be a standard in your content strategy.
Minimize the risk of irritating your Social Media audience by avoiding implementing these 6 tips and make sure that your content is encouraging engagement and interaction and ensure your audience is more likely to buy from you.

How to Drive More Repeat Purchases Than Ever Before

E-commerce business owners are always working hard to develop new strategies that will help them ignite and boost sales each quarter.
In the e-commerce world, a big part of driving sales and revenue each month has to involve targeting new customers and convincing them to buy for the very first time.
But e-commerce businesses can’t survive in the long run based on purchases from new customers alone. To succeed in building a sustainable and profitable business over a long period of time, you also need to build loyalty with past customers and convince them to buy from you again and again.
Why put so much focus on and energy into driving repeat purchases? Repeat customers spend more—sometimes as much as 300 times more. It’s also much more expensive—sometimes as much as 5 times more—to convert a new customer than it is to convince an existing customer to buy again. Existing customers are also easier to sell to because they’ve already had a chance to get to know your brand, try your products, and interact with your team.
Looking for ideas on how to drive more repeat purchases for your ecommerce business? Here are 8 actionable tactics that you can incorporate into your strategy:
1. Start with Your Brand
To get past customers to buy from you again, you have to commit to presenting them with an amazing, unforgettable brand. At the end of the day, you want people to know that your business and products are different from any other out there. You don’t want your customers to think they should look elsewhere the next time they want to buy a product like yours again. To convince them, you have to invest in product quality and customer experience, but you also need to present them with a brand they want to love and ultimately be associated with.
So, the question is, how do you create a brand that people can rally behind? Here are 4 quick tips:

Tip #1: Hire a Professional – Work with a professional designer or branding agency to develop a cohesive, thoughtful brand identity that you can work into everything you do and create.
Tip #2: Know and Share Your Values – Develop values around your brand and make sure your audience knows what those values are. Be known for something.
Tip #3: Put Your Brand Identity Everywhere – Once your brand identity, values, and voice have been developed, include them everywhere—from social media banners and email campaigns to unboxing experiences and direct mail efforts.
Tip #4: Make It About Your Customers – Let your customers know that they are a part of your brand—that they matter.

Your brand identity is often the first impression you can give to a prospective customer. To transform one-time customers into loyal brand advocates, remind shoppers at every turn what makes you different, unique, and worth supporting.
2. Create an Unmatched Unboxing Experience
Another investment worth making to boost repeat purchases and customer loyalty relates to your product packaging. Because online shoppers don’t get the instant gratification that they normally get when they buy and take home products at traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, you have to go out of your way to create an exciting, memorable experience for them once your products arrive at their doorstep.
What we’re talking about here is the unboxing experience. An unboxing experience relates to the first few moments when a shopper opens a package and sees and holds a product in their hands for the very first time.
In e-commerce, you have a lot of opportunities to shape this initial experience for your customers. For example, you could save a few dollars and send your products in a plain box with no message included other than the order receipt. Or, you could send products in a branded package with stickers, a handwritten thank you card, and other branded swag that you know they’ll love. My question for you is, which package would you be more excited to open? Which would be more memorable to you?
If you’re serious about driving more repeat purchases before the end of the year and you’re not currently investing in any sort of unboxing experience of strategy, start now.
3. Curate Content From Customers
To persuade your past customers to buy from you again, you have to make them feel like they are part of your story. You have to make them feel like they aren’t just buying products from an unknown company. Instead, you have to make them feel that they are part of a unique, active, and nurturing community. You want customers to really feel and believe that they are part of something bigger. Something that matters.
One of the best ways to build and nurture a community-based relationship with your customers is by curating content from them.
4. Build a Winning Customer Experience Team
These days, if you want to build loyalty with customers and convince them to buy from you again, you have to offer an unmatched customer experience for anyone who interacts with your business, team, and online store. From the moment someone lands on your website for the first time, to the day your products arrive at their doorstep, and everywhere in between and after, you and your team have to constantly work to provide an amazing level of customer service and attention to people.
To provide amazing customer support and customer service to your website visitors, customers, and social media followers, you need to build the right team. Here are some of the roles and responsibilities to consider assigning to people as your team continues to grow and evolve through the end of the year and beyond:

Live Chat Agent – A strong writer and communicator who can field messages and questions from visitors and customers through live chat on your website.
Customer Success Champion – A strategic-minded person who can help onboard customers and make sure they are getting everything they need.
Customer Delight / CX Manager – A creative-minded person who can uncover opportunities to delight customers at every turn. Someone who can manage multiple projects and initiatives at once.
Community Manager – A strong writer who can manage relationships across all your social media profiles.
Support Article Writer – A strong writer who can create FAQ and other supporting content about your products for your website.
Director of Customer Experience – Someone who has the experience to lead the strategy and guide the team in their initiatives.

With the right team in place, you can give your past, current, and future customers the types of experiences they want and need in order to be convinced to buy from you again.
5. Commit to Transparency
Another simple way to build loyalty and trust with customers in order to drive more sales is by committing to transparency. Your existing and future customers want to feel like they know and understand your business, products, team, values, and mission. Online shoppers don’t just want transactional relationships anymore. They want to build meaningful, authentic connections with the e-commerce companies they choose to support.
As an e-commerce entrepreneur, it’s your job to keep your audience in the loop about everything that’s happening with your business and products. Specifically, you should help them understand:

Your Values – Your audience should have a good understanding of what your values are. They should know what you care about, what your motivations are, and how it impacts them and the world.
Your Mission – Your audience should have a strong understanding of what your mission is. Who are you trying to help? Why did you build and launch your products? What community or initiative are you supporting?
Your Story – Your audience should know who you are and why you started your company. They should understand how it has changed and evolved over time, and where it’s going in the near and distant future.
Your Product Changes – Your audience should know when you make changes to your products and they should understand why those changes are being made.
Your Policies – Your audience should understand what your policies are and how they might have an impact on them. Examples include shipping policy, return policy, lifetime warranties, etc.
Your Team – Your audience should understand who your employees are and why they are working for you.
Your Partnerships – Your audience should understand who your partners and vendors are, what they believe, and why you chose to work with them over other companies.

The more transparent you can be, the more trust you’ll ultimately be able to build with your audience. Transparency leads to trust and respect which leads to loyalty which leads to more repeat sales.
6. Launch a VIP Loyalty Program
If you haven’t already done so, consider launching a VIP loyalty program for your ecommerce business before the end of the year in order to drive new customer acquisition and more repeat sales.
VIP loyalty programs are exclusive programs that reward customers for purchasing from you more than once. They typically offer exclusive promos, first dibbs on newly launched products, and special gifts to your most loyal and active customers.
If you’re looking for a loyalty tool that you can adopt and use for your business, check out one of these tools:

Smile.io
Loyalty Lion
Sleeknote

To learn more about the impact of loyalty programs and to dig into real examples, explore this helpful blog article from Shopify.
7. Optimize Transactional Emails
When it comes to email marketing, transactional emails have some of the highest open and engagement rates of any email you can send. The most common types of transactional emails are order confirmation and shipping emails. These are emails that your customers are likely opening in order to get status updates about the products you’re going to be sending them.
Because these emails perform so well, you should be taking the opportunity to optimize them for sales and repeat purchases. With tools like Spently, you can easily add product recommendation blocks and personalized product recommendations to the transactional emails you are already sending to customers through Shopify.
As an ecommerce business owner, it’s your job to continue nurturing relationships with your customers. Adding optimized, conversion-driven messaging and content in your transactional emails can promote the fact that you want to develop long-term relationships with your customers. It’s also a great time to upsell other products because it’s usually when your customers are most excited about your business and products.
Want to learn more about how to optimize your transactional emails? Dig into this chapter from the Shopify guide on How to Grow Your Ecommerce Business with Email Marketing.
8. Keep Past Customers Informed
The final way to drive repeat purchases this fall is to simply keep your past customers informed on what you’re doing. It’s easy to focus on driving new sales and converting new website visitors into customers, but to truly succeed, you have to continue building relationships with the people who have purchased products from you before. Here are some ways to do it:

Send Them Emails – Make sure your past customers are getting personalized emails from you and your team. It’s OK to send them the same standard email marketing campaigns that you’re sending everyone else, but they should also be receiving targeted campaigns from you that present content based on their past purchases.
Share Updates on Social Media – Keep your social media community updated on product announcements and seasonal campaigns. Promote special promo codes to those who have purchased from you before in the past.
Send Direct Mail – Send targeted, personalized direct mail and handwritten thank you cards to your past customers. Share information about your business, share promo codes, and show your appreciation.
Call Them – Pick up the phone and call customers who made big purchases in the past. Give them an actionable promo code that they can take advantage of.
Delight Them – Think of ways to delight your past customers.

Asking seems like a simple tactic, but it can an incredibly effective and low-cost tactic to implement for your business. All it takes is a little strategy and the right person to help you execute.
Over to You
What other tactics or strategies are you using to successfully drive repeat purchases at your business? Share your ideas in the comments below.

5 Signs That Someone is Addicted to Social Media

Social media has changed the way we communicate. While this shift is generally positive, especially when it comes to sharing relevant and crucial information, there is also a downside. There are many concerns in the scientific community related to the excessive use of social media, especially among the young population. This mostly refers to generation Z – who are probably the most frequent and diligent users of social media.
This population successfully harnesses the benefits of social media – they share personal information, videos, and pictures and even manage to find jobs or share educational materials. However, the amount of time they spend online is also potentially dangerous. One of the potential threats that lurk in the dark corners of social media is an addiction. Have you ever considered social media as a potentially addictive “substance”? You should! This list will show you the signs that you can spot in someone heavily influenced by social media. Social media can be an addiction, so the signs that someone is addicted are similar to those observed with other addictions.
5 ways to spot if someone is addicted to social media:
geralt / Pixabay
1. They rarely put their phone down
In conversations, they look for any opportunity to pick up their phone and start scrolling on their social media apps. We are frequently experiencing this situation nowadays – a group of friends go out for dinner or drinks and none of them communicate with each other. Instead, they keep staring at their phones, taking pictures of their food or selfies. Does this happen to you or someone you know? How often? This might be the first sign that you’re addicted to social media. If the thought of putting your phone down or not checking your accounts every 10 minutes makes you nervous, you should definitely consider changing your habits. The same thing goes for games. New mobile games are super cool and fun, but they are also designed to be highly addictive, especially for new users. Before downloading a new game, you should definitely consider the amount of time you’re willing to spend on developing your virtual personality.
2. They are the first to comment or like the pictures and statuses of people they follow
… and this is because they are on the platforms constantly! It might seem like this person is your number one fan, but the truth is that they are always online and will probably like anything that is posted. If this is happening to you and you’re feeling a burning urge to comment or like every new picture that is posted, maybe you should limit the amount of time you spend on social media.
3. They may become agitated or annoyed when without battery, internet or signal
The smarter the phone, often the shorter the battery life. Some of you remember the time before smartphones when you could charge your phone once per week and completely rely on it for days. However, today that’s not the case. Most smartphones need to be charged on a daily basis and can sometimes turn off in situations when they’re needed the most. This may cause discomfort if you really need to use it at that moment, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world. For people addicted to social media, this is a cataclysmic event. In these situations, they are nervous, annoyed or even aggressive and will calm down only if they find an available charger.
4. They regularly reference other people’s social media feeds in conversation
…and they don’t differentiate between someone’s social media persona and their real life. What are the traits of a visually appealing Instagram account? Beautiful pictures, complementary filters, stunning locations and perfect moments. To be honest, everyone loves beautiful visual content and will probably follow such an account at some point. Owners of these accounts are probably promoting themselves, their lifestyle or their products/services, and these pictures are probably photoshopped or staged. It’s very important to know the difference between real life and the lavish, extravagant and glamorous Instagram life many people present on their accounts. In addition, people addicted to social media will probably only visit places that are “Insta-friendly” and have the potential to result in great visual content.
5. They are late-night users and are scrolling and checking until right before they go to bed
This can be an alarming sign, as it is most likely connected with sleep deprivation. You should definitely evaluate your late night scrolling habits for multiple reasons. The first reason is the quality of your sleep. Scientific studies show that the best quality of sleep is obtained between 10 pm and 12 am. Contemporary lifestyles often prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep and going to bed early. But, if you are already in bed by this time, why don’t you reap the benefits and reward your brain with a boost of energy?
The second reason is also connected to your cognitive functioning. You probably heard that mobile phones (and computers) emit blue light that is good for daily activities, but terrible for nocturnal ones. To break it down, blue light sends our brain the signal to wake up and get into working mode, which is great when you actually need to concentrate and focus on work. But, at night, you need to decrease the amount of cognitive activities your brain is doing and get some much-needed rest. The good news is that you can turn on the blue light filter on your phone, but the better choice would be to leave your phone alone and read a book instead.
Do you suspect someone you know is addicted to social media? Or do you think you are yourself? Take this questionnaire and look for ways to moderate and cut down.

How to Land Your Dream Job in Social Media

geralt / Pixabay
Careers in social media have only grown since the popularity of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram and they’re not looking at slowing down any time soon. Now there are all sorts of roles where you can tweet for a living, if that’s your thing.
Roles include titles such as social media manager, content creator (image, text or video), account manager and even more specific jobs that involve updating just one platform or working with social media influencers. You can go after jobs where you’ll work in-house for a company and be responsible for promoting that company’s own range of products or services over social media, or for a social media agency like us, where you’ll be responsible for representing a wide range of clients.
The choice is up to you and you don’t have to decide straight away. Many social media managers have started their careers in agencies and then opted to join a company as an in-house marketer to apply their skills in a narrower field of products. Likewise, some in-house marketers have switched to an agency because they prefer the variety it can offer. There is no right or wrong answer and there’s a career in social media for everyone!
There’s never been a more exciting time to land a role in social media and it can equip someone with a range of skills that are extremely desirable, for this jobs market and the future. Think a career in social media would be your absolute dream?! Here’s how to find one:
Our first tip? Use social media
It might seem like an obvious piece of advice, but there’s actually more to it than you think. If you want to come across like someone who is enthusiastic, passionate and knowledgeable about social media, use it yourself! Cultivate your social media profiles, share your views and build yourself an online profile. We recommend you avoid picking sides on a political spectrum or sharing ideas that could be deemed offensive or controversial. Instead, share snapshots into your life and work as an aspiring social media professional. That could include your latest learnings or your comments on how brands you follow use social media.
While creativity is highly praised, desired and welcome, make sure you think twice before every post you plan to add to your profile. Once it’s there it’s there forever!
Use LinkedIn to your advantage
You probably know that Linkedin is an online haven for successful and thriving professionals. If you don’t have your own profile, you should check it out and create your resume. Give yourself a professional headline, profile picture, and summary and collect recommendations from colleagues, friends and even teachers. Here is no place to be shy – clearly state your knowledge and accomplishments so that potential employers want to speak to you!
In addition, Linkedin can work as a job search tool. You can also follow agencies and companies where you would like to find a job and be updated with their vacancies. Normally, the job application process is pretty straightforward on Linkedin – you can just add your CV and cover letter when you click on the job ad and the company will instantly receive your application. Follow up separately via email to make sure you’re at the top of the list.
Research social media agencies and get their attention
As well as utilizing the power of Linkedin, search for social media agencies in your area and check their websites for job ads or other job-related updates. If you don’t have much experience, you can also search for an internship or apprenticeship. We have a whole careers page that describes exactly what we’re looking for in a social media manager.
We have hired some wonderful people when we haven’t even been looking for hire. They caught our attention and we created roles for them! That could be you. One account manager sent us a series of daily tweets to explain why she would be perfect for our team, someone else baked us a social media-themed cake! For the right person, the right company will create the role and it could be yours!
Social media roles, in-house, and agency-based thrive when the individual involved is excited and passionate about the work. Showing your interest in a company in a proactive way will ensure you stand out from others in securing that role.
Check out recruitment sites
Making use of existing recruitment sites is probably the easiest way to find a job in social media. There are many recruitment sites out there – Indeed, Glassdoor, BlueTown and Monster, to name but a few. Your main task is to create your CV, type in the keywords for roles you want and browse the job section. The algorithm will show you the role it thinks you will like and usually all you have to do is attach your CV and covering letter and wait until the agencies reach out. Pro tip: personalize your covering letter for each role and make sure it’s relevant!
Brush up on your knowledge
Do you know the intricacies of Facebook’s ads manager, Instagram’s algorithm, Twitter’s analytics dashboard, and LinkedIn’s home feed?! Are you familiar with where Facebook wants to be in 5 years? What about the latest updates to each one, as well as the new social platforms that are emerging?
To work in social media, you’ll need to be the expert. Get hungry for all of the information you can find and use it to talk confidently about how you’d apply it to your clients. It’s competitive out there. If you asked ten social media experts for their opinion on a social media post, you’d likely hear ten different opinions. Make yours be the one that people listen to by having the theory nailed, as well as how to implement it.
Do your research, keep up to date with changes within the industry and demonstrate you can put it into practice by using your own social media platforms regularly.

The Benefits of Google My Business

422737 / Pixabay
Since pulling the plug on Google +, Google has been putting more effort and focus into providing businesses with more options to maximize their exposure through its platform.
Google has created Google My Business and in the past year they have been adding more options to improve the ability for businesses to be discovered online. Google My Business is particularly effective for small, local businesses.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a free tool that allows you to promote your Business Profile and business website on Google Search and Maps. With your Google My Business account, you can see and connect with your customers, post updates to your Business Profile, and see how customers are interacting with your business on Google. (Google)
Why Should Small Businesses Use Google My Business?
Google My Business provides more ways for your business to attract and engage with customers searching for your business or your services/products.
Google My Business is particularly useful to small businesses because:

4 out of 5 customers use search engines to find local information/businesses/services.
70% of customers visit a store to make a purchase after an online search.
85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

What Tools are Provided to Help My Business Succeed?
Business Website – Even though you may have a business website of your own, a Google My Business website complements your website by providing more visibility with Google Search and Google Maps. The free website builder pulls the information from your Business Profile to auto-generate a website. You can then choose a specific template design, add photos, and create updates to customize your website.
Accessible Dashboard – The Google My Business allows you to view useful information for your business, including your online performance, customer photos, customer reviews, company updates, and a variety of helpful insights for you to determine if your marketing strategy is creating results, allowing you enough information to update your strategy or continue with what is working.
Insights – Google My Business insights provides information on how customers are using Search and Maps to find your listing or businesses providing your services/products. Insights provides information on how people are searching for your business, how they are searching for the services/products you provide, how many clicked through to your website, where they are located, whether they called your business, and more. (For more on Insights see Google’s About Insights)
Google My Business Posts – While these updates are called “posts” they are not actually Social Media updates. These posts are visible on your Google My Business listing during a search and on the Google My Business website. The posts are a great way to showcase your business at the exact time someone is searching for your business online.
Customer Communication – Google My Business now provides a great way for customers to connect with your business. Customers viewing your listing now can call, message, or leave a review. Providing more ways for people to find you and reach you so you can do more business.
Keep an Eye on Your Competitors – You can also see what your competitors are posting and see who is in direct competition for searches in your area. Allowing you to re-strategize your campaign to put your business ahead of your opponents. (This means YOUR posts are showing up on their listing too.)
What is the Difference Between Google My Business, Google Places, Google Listings, etc.?
Google My Business now incorporates Google Places, Google Listings, and Google + Business Pages. IT is the main place to manage and update your business information and Business Profile. This is now what you need in order to update your information on Google and optimize your business for search rank.
Still Not Convinced?
Case studies have shown that businesses in a highly competitive industry should be using Google My Business to optimize their business online in order to get a jump on their competition.
You need to be where customers are looking, if you aren’t, they won’t find you, they will find your competition.

What Are the Best Times to Post on Social Media?

Whether you’re posting in real time or scheduling your content in advance, social media marketing requires you to have good timing. Simply put, you need to post when your followers are actually going to see it if you want to get maximum engagement.
And that begs the question—when exactly are your social media followers most active and most engaged?
That depends a bit on your audience and your industry, but also on the social platform you’re using. Social platforms have their own unique audience behaviors, and the best time to post on Facebook is not necessarily the best time to post on Twitter.
Scheduling Your Social Media
The following pointers are all somewhat general, then, but definitely worth noting if you’re looking to lend your social media posts maximum impact:
Facebook: According to statistics, the best times to post on Facebook are Thursday and Friday, between 9 in the morning and 7 in the evening, with the early afternoon window (1-3) being optimal.
Pinterest: Unique among social networks, Pinterest has its own trending topic for each day of the week; Monday, for instance, is fitness-focused, Tuesday technology, and so on. The best time to post, then, is on whatever day best fits your content and your niche. Fitness trainers, make sure you’re pinning on Monday!
Twitter: There is some debate about when the best time is for tweeting, and really there is no bad time, except during the wee hours of the morning when no one is awake. Experiment with weekdays versus weekend posts to see which get more traction with your followers.
Instagram: Don’t ask us why, but many reports reveal Monday and Wednesday to be the ideal days for Instagram.
LinkedIn: For LinkedIn, aim for the middle of the week—Tuesday through Thursday—during normal business hours (9-5 or so).
Now, the caveat to all of this is that regular content updates are essential for branding consistency and user engagement—so while optimizing your timing is important, so is posting content throughout the week. Make note of these peak hours, and make sure you put some good stuff online then, but don’t let that be an excuse to post infrequently! Be judicious in your posts, but also generous.

The Overlooked Role of Emotion in Brand Experience

While CRM systems have been around for many years, in my experience, among the companies who invest in them, only a few have grasped their true purpose. For a business or a brand to “wrap its head around” the idea of an ongoing conversation with the customer, we are best served by taking a closer look at the role of the brand in experience management and contact management.
As Content Marketing continues to develop, much has been written about the role of experiences, memories, and emotion as driving forces in conversion, and most importantly, in customer loyalty. One post went on to suggest that we’re witnessing a shift in determining what truly makes us happy and expressing it in our behavior. That shift is most easily observed in generational attitudes; the younger generations are placing more value on experiences over stuff. We are discounting: the acquisition of things like houses, cars, clothes, and yes, even tech hardware like iPhones is giving way to a preference generating lasting memories of things we’ve done or seen or felt. Something we experience helps us look forward to some event or relationship. And while a change in the choices we make with brands might scare some, the search for something real and lasting can’t be ignored by marketers. These choices lead to moments, many of which are made unconsciously with brands.
Researchers at a Silicon Valley area university were polled in regards to Gens X and Y, revealing that after buying whatever their heart desired, participants responded that spending their money on an experience or on a person you experience it with would add to their quality of life for a more sustained period of time. The paradigm shift comes when the era of Social Media gives them the platform to share those experiences. I would argue that the surprise and delight delivered by positive brand experiences matters much more than purely the acquisition of what the brand makes.
Of course, we do and should reward ourselves for accomplishments, or upon good fortune. Sometimes that takes the form of a thing we buy. But when brands can communicate more of their “why” in the form of an experience, the effects can be memorable. When brands allow experiences to strengthen and confirm the wisdom of choosing them, they are communicating on an emotional level. In fact, emotions drive nearly everything we do.
Looking at the customer experience, much is emotion driven. We can research and shop for months, but when we are in that moment, we make an emotional decision. And what about loyalty? What makes us loyal? It’s the emotional connection with whom we are loyal to. Marketers all too often look at the “what”, instead of the “how” or even better, the “why.” A great customer experience goes beyond rationale and product features. We need the entire buyers journey or purchase funnel to achieve it.
For a brand to resonate and compete for the hearts and minds of consumers who, for example, prefer going places to buying and storing things, learning new insights into emotional response is part of codifying brand values. Emotion plays into one’s memories of experience and with whom.
So, in considering the role of emotion in marketing/branding, we need to consider the consumer holistically. Rationale and logic do indeed contribute to our decision making, but as Forrester Research stressed recently during their Customer Experience Forum in NYC, “customer experience doesn’t drive behavior that expands a brand, loyalty does.” Content delivered through the entire buyer/ownership journey is as much about creating emotional experience and advocacy in the form of loyalty as it is about acquisition. When designing customer experiences, we could begin with something like an experience map. While big data is now a primary catalyst for examining customer behavior, it still depends on compilation. More direct sources like call center logs, personas, one-on-one interviews, comments on our blog, the social web, and real life conversations can help gain insight to start. Then, we could apply some known behavioral tenants. For example:
People are more sensitive to avoiding negative experiences over investing in positive ones.
Experiential context must be accounted for when considering the consumer’s state of mind.
We tend to be revisionist and selective in our memories, so “moments” do matter.
Brands need to continually create relevant strategies, refine or reinvent company culture, develop new technologies, and re-examine brand values if they are to thrive.
Additionally, an internal perspective could be applied to employee experiences to support this effort. “C” Suite decisions could and should shift from a strategy of what to do to how, when, and how much to do. Making the case for a Social Employee at every touchpoint is a recognition that people with customer contact (employees) are the new marketers because they directly impact our emotional response to a brand experience. They function best when they have the opportunity to be authentic and creative in driving positive and emotional experiences and outcomes.
We know that 14% of people polled trust conventional advertising. We know that 92% trust recommendations from people they know (have an emotional connection to). In fact, more people trust a brand’s employees than the CEO. Addressing the importance of emotion in brand experience will go a long way to converting that 92% to higher conversion rates and retention.