This may be of some interest.
As a Boston-based young professional, the biggest product I’ve had to invest in was an over-priced apartment.
And this year, with apartment tours going fully virtual, I’ve found it even harder to do the extreme research needed before committing to a lease. Now, as I research apartment after apartment online, my new process feels like an intense buyer’s journey.
In my research phase, I spend hours on end scouting listings, looking up addresses on Google Maps, researching neighborhoods, skimming through Yelp reviews of prospective property managers, and analyzing photos or video tours for potential problems that an unseen apartment could have.
Ultimately, I’ve found that the apartment listings I’m most drawn to have links to video tours filmed by current tenants.
When I’ve watched tours filmed by tenants, they’ll explain what they like about their apartment, note major pros and cons, and give tiny — but authentic — details that the average salesperson might not offer. For example, in one video, a tenant honestly revealed one pro and one con about a bathroom by saying, “The bathtub has a great jacuzzi, which makes up for the lower water pressure.”
After viewing a pleasant and seemingly trustworthy virtual tour, I feel like I’ve gotten an in-depth and authentic look at the product, as well as thoughts from a previous customer who is an expert on the product. Additionally, because the tenant often voluntarily offers their time to host the create video or virtual tour, I also get the sense that they are willing to help a trusted landlord find a new tenant.
Ultimately, I’m more likely to respond to an apartment listing with a great tenant-generated virtual tour than a listing with over-produced images or videos edited by an outsider.
When it comes to smaller purchases, I feel the same way about promotional content created by customers. This content shows me what the product is like in real life and proves that customers are delighted enough about their experience to promote a trusted brand.
And, I’m not the only consumer (or marketer) who thinks this. An estimated 90% of consumers say user-generated content (UGC) holds more influence over their buying decisions than promotional emails and even search engine results.
Below, I’ll highlight more stats, facts, and figures that demonstrate the benefits of user-generated content.
23 User-Generated Content Stats to Know in 2020
Benefits of User-Generated Content
- Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content. (Stackla, 2020)
- 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, (Stackla, 2020)
- 48% of marketing professionals believe that content created by customers can help humanize their marketing. (TINT, 2018)
- 34% of TINT users surveyed and 45% of marketing professionals agreed that UGC helps increase key social media KPIs. (TINT, 2018)
- 42% of marketers say user-generated content is a vital component of their marketing strategy. (TINT, 2018)
- Ads featuring UGC garnered 73% more positive comments on social networks than traditional ads. (Jukin Media, 2018)
- 31% of consumers say advertisements that feature UGC content are more memorable than traditional ads without it. (Jukin Media, 2018)
- 28% of consumers say ads with UGC content in them are also more unique than ads without this type of content. (Jukin Media, 2018)
- 50% of marketers have utilized user-generated content in email marketing, (TINT, 2018)
- Meanwhile, 58% of marketers have implemented UGC in ad campaigns. (TINT, 2018)
- Nearly half of marketers use UGCto support their overall marketing campaigns. (TINT, 2018)
- 41% of marketing professionals ranked content engagement as their top KPI for tracking user-generated content. (TINT, 2018)
- The most common types of UGC are photos, videos, social media content, customer reviews or forums, and content created with branded AR filters. (IAB, 2019)
- 60% of consumers believe UGC is the most authentic marketing content. (Stackla, 2017)
- 75% of marketers believe user-generated content feels more authentic than other types of content. (TINT, 2018)
- Although 92% of marketers think they’re creating authentic content, 51% of consumers think their favorite brands offer authenticity. (Stackla, 2020)
- 57% of consumers think that less than half of the content brands create resonates as authentic. (Stackla, 2017)
- Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content. (Stackla, 2020)
- 56% of internet users say they find out about products from friends or acquaintances while 32% rely on customer reviews. (Statista, 2020)
- On average, 20% of consumers have unfollowed a brand on social media because they felt their content was inauthentic. (Stackla, 2017)
- 70% of the time, consumers are able to distinguish between consumer-created content and brand-created content. (Stackla, 2017)
- Demographically, more Gen Z YouTube viewers prefer UGC to professional videos more than older generations. (YouTube, 2020)
- Globally, Gen Z and millennial generations watch more user-generated content than Gen X and Boomer generations. (YouTube, 2020)
- More than 30% of millennials have unfollowed a brand due to inauthentic content. (Stackla, 2017)
Defining a User-Generated Content Strategy
As you can see from the stats above, user-generated content not only saves you production time, but it can also make your brand more authentic and trusted.
If the data above has persuaded you to implement UGC in your marketing strategy, here are a few next steps you can consider:
- Get inspiration from other brands: Seeing successful examples of UGC from brands in a similar industry will give you an idea of which customers to reach out to and how to amplify their positive thoughts about your product. For a few great UGC examples, check out this blog post.
- Determine how you’ll get the content: Will you encourage fans to send you videos on social media, host a content-related contest, or directly ask your clients to promote a product via email? For tips on this step, read this post,
- Be authentic: Remember, the biggest strength of user-generated content is that it allows audiences to see an authentic view of your product. Don’t be afraid to promote UGC that might be lower quality but highlights all the best features of your brand or product.
To learn more about how to leverage user-generated content in your marketing, click here.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
This crisis has created a need to do a lot more with less resources.
Marketers, in particular, are under a lot of pressure to pivot their strategy and ensure their brand stays relevant during difficult times.
But, although quality does make a difference, marketing right now is a game of strategy and scale. At the end of the day, only a small fraction of the people reached by a brand will actually convert.
Which means the more people marketers reach — and the more touchpoints involved — the better. If you’re already feeling stretched thin, don’t worry. Reaching more people doesn’t necessarily mean doing more. In fact, there are a few circumstances where it’s actually better to do less.
Here, let’s dive into five areas of marketing you can practice the “less is more” approach to ensure higher efficiency, and less time wasted.
Less Stress, More Productivity
When you take a hard look at marketing tactics, you’ll see there are actually a lot of opportunities to generate and convert more leads with less work. Let’s dive into five areas of marketing where you might be wasting your time — and how to create more efficient processes instead.
Management has two meanings in marketing: the management of employees, and the management of campaigns. Both contain plenty of chances to do more with less work.
Every tool in your marketing stack claims to make your life easier. In most cases, though, they’re just one more window or tool to keep tabs on. Despite the fact that the typical martech stack contains dozens of tools, Gartner research suggests marketers use barely half of them to their fullest potential. That’s the thinking behind HubSpot’s “hub” approach: All-in-one tools are a better investment because they’re more efficient. Not only do employees actually use them, but they spend a lot less time doing things like switching windows and exporting data.
If I’ve learned anything about management, it’s that trust and autonomy are key. Nothing creates disengagement quite like micromanagement.
Micromanagement is a double-whammy to productivity because it takes more of managers’ time while reducing employees’ performance. And as someone who co-founded a content marketing company, trust me when I say micromanagement also cuts into content quality.
The best managers aren’t hands-off, but they’re far from hands-on. Instead of worrying about nitty-gritty details, good managers focus on creating the right work environment. Your direct reports should feel safe making their own decisions, but also comfortable coming to you with questions.
2. Scheduling Your Calendar
A “less is more” mentality works both with how you schedule your time, and how other people schedule meetings with you. At a past company, we used what I call the “big rocks” system. Each morning, members of the team would share the top three or four things they expected to accomplish that day.
Although they did all sorts of smaller tasks in between, nobody ever listed “answering emails” or “creating Facebook posts.”
Why not? Because trying to schedule every single chore every day is a waste of time. Appointments fall through. Things come up. Being flexible and squeezing in extra work whenever it makes sense is more efficient than having to rearrange your calendar every hour.
Think, too, about how you schedule things. I spend a lot of my days in meetings, so I could easily spend hours going back and forth in email to set them all up. Instead, I use workflow automation to let people pick a time that works for both of us.
3. Content Creation
I may not be a professional novelist, but one thing I do know is short, snappy writing tends to perform better than long, complex copy.Search engines favor shorter sentences and paragraphs. And more anecdotally, Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, warns writers against overusing adjectives and adverbs.
The point is this: Concise writing tends to be strong writing. Rather than trying to sound like the next Shakespeare in your blog content, be natural. A down-to-earth style is both easier on you and easier on your reader.
4. Conducting Meetings
There are only a few select situations where I would ever hold a hour-long meeting. Not only are they expensive — a hour-long meeting with a dozen employees costs 12 hours of company time — but they simply don’t make sense from a productivity standpoint.
Don’t get me wrong: Meetings can be valuable opportunities to get on the same page. But they can also be enormous time-sucks. In fact, Research published in Harvard Business Review found 71% of executives think meetings tend to be unproductive and inefficient; and 65% of those surveyed said meetings keep them from completing their own work.
Take an “only when necessary and only as long as necessary” approach to meetings. If a message can be conveyed just as well in an email, don’t drag people away from their desks for it. If a meeting is required, send out the agenda beforehand, and explain how long you expect it to take. If it’s done after five minutes, great — let people get back to work.
5. Team Brainstorming Sessions
Marketing is an industry of ideas. Every strategy, campaign, and piece of content begins with ideation. Although I like the cerebral side of marketing, I can’t get on board with how many teams brainstorm.
Nearly 60 years ago, a Yale study showed individuals come up with twice as many solutions to creative puzzles as those working in groups. Yet the team brainstorm remains a staple at most agencies I know.
Just as much time is wasted in post-brainstorm winnowing. Marketing runs on experimentation. The only way to truly tell how a campaign, title, or image will perform is to test it. In the time some teams spend debating different ideas, they could’ve collected real-world data and pivoted if the initial idea didn’t work.
Practice Pulling Back
Doing less might not sound like something that takes practice to get right. But I’ve found marketing is full of Type A personalities: People who hold themselves to high standards, and as a result, tend to give their all to every task they tackle.
When I see members of my team overdoing it, I tell them this: Perfection does not equal performance. I understand the urge to get it right, but remember, marketing is a matter of scale. Doing less is the smartest way to squeeze more in.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Daydreaming is inherently flexible. You don’t need to set aside time for it or plan how to execute it properly….
The post Why You Should Pour Yourself a Glass of Water and Write for 15 Minutes Today appeared first on Copyblogger.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Marketers tend to be very reactive.
We are conditioned to be very reactive. Whether it’s your boss who is pissed that your traffic dips or even yourself… everyone hates when sales and income drop because of something you can’t fully control.
And even when you try to be proactive, you are probably planning ahead from a 3-month period to a year max.
But that’s not how you win. You win by making bold bets that take time and can’t be done in a few months or a year… you win by doing what your competition isn’t willing to do.
So how do you come up with these bold bets?
Here’s how I come up with my ideas
Once a year I try to unplug. Just like right now… as I am writing this, I don’t have cell reception and there is no WiFi.
I’m on a ranch in the middle of nowhere.
No matter where I look, there are no neighbors. All you have is nature in its rawest form. Just look at how the lightning kept going on for hours.
By unplugging and just being one with nature, you truly realize what’s important.
See, we all have problems and issues… especially in business. But how bad are your problems? Do they even matter in the grand scheme of things?
Look, I’ll be honest with you. I am not a big nature person… I’m actually quite the opposite.
I live in a modern, cold feeling house in a heavily congested city. I’m so OCD that I have a full-time cleaner come just because I’m afraid of getting dirty (seriously).
Heck, I won’t even go through airport security without having booties in my briefcase, just in the rare chance they make me take off my shoes. There is no way I can have my socks touch that dirty ground.
Yes, I am crazy when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene.
But even me, I go to places that are full of nature and wild animals… or in this case… cows, bears, deer, snakes, mountain lions, and more. Being there really helps put things into perspective.
Because when you aren’t surrounded by noise caused by us humans, it allows you to clearly focus and think about what’s important.
For me, spending 3 days a year usually does the trick.
It allows me to forget about the bullshit we all have to deal with on a daily basis and come up with ideas about what I need to do over the next 5 (or even 10) years to win.
I know that sounds like a really long time… and it is. But again, to win you need to think long term and make bold bets that your competition wouldn’t dare to copy.
Just look at what I did with Ubersuggest.
I came up with that idea a few years ago by disconnecting (just like I described above).
Companies like Moz would constantly post their revenue stats and their competitors decided to also talk about their financials. So while being disconnected, I came up with an idea on how I could win and the first step was acquiring a tool like Ubersuggest.
And since then I’ve executed a few of the steps in my plan, but I still have a long way to go.
Nonetheless, those steps have paid off. Just look at my traffic numbers.
So what I am going to do over the next 5 to 10 years?
I am going to turn SEO on its head again.
It hit me on this trip that we all have to go to sites like Ubersuggest, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or even Moz to get data.
But why is that?
It’s not natural in our workflow. Wouldn’t it just be easier to see this data as you browse the web?
When you search Google for any query you can use browser extensions like Keywords Everywhere to get some data or SEOquake or the Mozbar… but what you can’t get is that Ahrefs or SEMrush experience when you are just on a Google Search results page.
What will that look like? I have no clue yet, but I will figure that out over time.
Will that kill the traffic I generate to Ubersuggest over time?
But that is what needs to be done. I obsess about providing an amazing experience to my audience, even if that will kill off my existing business.
And no, that won’t take 5 years to do… I will probably do it over the next 6 months. I will first roll out a basic plugin like Keywords Everywhere and, eventually, I will add the functionally so you can get that type of Ubersuggest or Ahrefs experience right on Google or on your competitor’s site.
What will happen over the next 5 years though, is that I will be able to build something that gets you more traffic. Just like a light switch. Something that simple.
It should all be automated.
And no, I don’t mean in a templatized way. I manually send out emails every time I write a blog post because I know I can write custom copy that generates a 30% open rate and a high click rate.
But again, it should all be automated. And not just for English based sites, it should be done on a global level and work for every site in any language or country.
So how can you figure out what to focus on?
You may not be able to disconnect like me and spend the money that it costs to go to a ranch in the middle of nowhere.
And that’s fine… you don’t have to.
When I first started off, I didn’t have the resources or money, and I did just fine within my constraints.
For example, roughly 5 years ago I came up with the concept that I needed to go after global markets and compared to any of my competitors in the digital marketing realm, I’ve crushed all of them when it comes to global marketing.
Most of my competitors just translated their site or translated some of their content. Me on the other hand, I have 7 offices and teams in 18 different countries. And I’ll continue to expand so I can keep beating my competition when it comes to grabbing international attention.
But that idea didn’t come to me when I was in nature, being disconnected.
At that time, I was in my condo in the middle of Seattle and I disconnected my Internet for a few days.
Before I disconnected my Internet, I went and got food so I didn’t have to leave my house, and then I turned off all my gadgets… from my TV to phone and anything that was a distraction.
It worked well because now only 18.89% of my traffic is from the United States compared to 57% before I started to expand globally.
In other words, you can disconnect no matter where you are. You just literally have to disconnect your router, turn off your phone, and unplug your TV… it really is that simple.
If you do that for a few days, you’ll start realizing what is important and what isn’t. You’ll be able to strategize and start thinking more long term.
The key to winning long term isn’t by being reactive every time there is an algorithm update or even proactive and preparing for each algorithm update.
Because some of those things are simply out of your control.
Instead, you need to think long term and how you can disrupt your market to make a long-term bet that your competition isn’t willing to make.
Nike wasn’t built by SEO.
Airbnb wasn’t built through paid advertising.
American Express wasn’t built through social media marketing.
Tesla wasn’t built through content marketing.
Doing something disruptive or better than the competition is how you win.
Ubersuggest gets 1,668,233 visitors and 9,136,512 page views a month from people just coming directly. Not through SEO, marketing, or anything like that… I just focus on the future instead of being reactive.
That’s how I win.
Now, the real question is, how are you going to win?
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Earlier this year, Salesforce made waves by announcing a policy that compelled retailers to either stop selling military-style rifles and certain accessories, or stop using its popular e-commerce software.
For a massive brand like this to take such an emphatic stand on a divisive social issue would’ve been unthinkable not so long ago. But in today’s world at large, and consequently in the business and marketing environments, it’s becoming more common. This owes to a variety of factors, ranging from generational changes among consumers to a growing need to differentiate.
But, like so many other trends and strategies we see emerging in digital marketing, I think it mostly comes back to one overarching thing: the trust factor.
In this installment of our Trust Factors series, we’ll explore why and how brands and corporations can take a stand on important issues, building trust and rapport with customers and potential buyers in the process.
The Business Case for Bold Stances
Executives from Salesforce might suggest that it made such a bold and provocative move simply because they felt it was the right thing to do. (CEO Marc Benioff, for instance, has been outspoken about gun control and specifically his opposition to the AR-15 rifle.) But of course, one of the 10 largest software companies in the world isn’t making these kinds of decisions without a considerable business case behind them.
Like many other modern companies, Salesforce is taking the lead in a movement that feels inevitable. As millennials come to account for an increasingly large portion of the customer population, corporate social responsibility weighs more and more heavily on marketing strategies everywhere.
A few data points to think about:
- Research last year by FleishmanHillard found that 61% of survey respondents believe it’s important for companies to express their views, whether or not the person agrees with them.
- Per the same study, 66% say they have stopped using the products and services of a company because the company’s response to an issue does not support their personal view.
- The latest global Earned Brand Report from Edelman found that 64% of people are now “belief-driven buyers,” meaning they will choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues.
- MWWPR categorizes 35% of the adult population in the U.S. as “corpsumers,” up by two percentage points from the prior year. The term describes “a brand activist who considers a company’s values, actions and reputation to be just as important as their product or service.”
- Corpsumers say they’re 90% more likely to patronize companies that take a stand on social and public policy matters, and 80% say they’ll even pay more for products from such brands.
What Does It Mean to Take a Stand as a Brand?
Admittedly, the phrase is somewhat ambiguous. So let’s clear something up right now: taking a stand doesn’t necessarily mean your company needs to speak out on touchy political issues.
When Dave Gerhart, Vice President of Marketing for Drift, gave a talk at B2BSMX last month outlining his 10 commandments for modern marketing, taking a stand was among the directives he implored. Gerhart pointed to Salesforce’s gun gambit as one precedent, but also called out a less controversial example: his own company’s crusade against the lead form.
I think this serves as a great case in point. Lead forms aren’t a hot-button societal issue that’s going to rile people up, necessarily, but they’ve been a subject of annoyance on the consumer side for years. Drift’s decision to do away with them completely did entail some risk (to back up their stance, they had to commit to not using this proven, mainstream method for generating actionable leads) but made a big impression within their industry. Now, it’s a rallying cry for their brand.
From my view, these are the trust-building ingredients, which both the Salesforce and Drift examples cover:
- It has to matter to your customers
- It has to be relevant to your industry or niche
- It has to entail some sort of risk or chance-taking on behalf of the brand
Weighing that final item is the main sticking point for companies as they contemplate action on this front.
Mitigating the Risks of Taking a Stand
The potential downside of taking a controversial stand is obvious enough: “What if we piss off a bunch of our customers and our bottom line takes a hit?” Repelling certain customers is inherent to any bold stance, but obviously you’ll want the upside (i.e., affinity and loyalty built with current customers, plus positive attention drawing in new customers) to strongly outdistance the downside (i.e., existing or potential customers defecting because they disagree).
Here are some things to think about on this front.
Know Your Audience and Employees
It’s always vital for marketers to have a deep understanding of the people they serve, and in this case it’s especially key. You’ll want to have a comprehensive grasp of the priorities and attitudes of people in your target audience to ensure that a majority will agree with — or at least tolerate — your positioning. Region, age, and other demographic factors can help you reach corollary conclusions.
For example, our clients at Antea Group are adamant about the dangers of climate change. In certain circumstances this could (sadly) be a provocative and alienating message, but Antea Group serves leaders and companies focusing on sustainability, who widely recognize the reality and urgency of climate change.
Not only that, but Antea Group also employs people who align with this vision, so embracing its importance both externally and internally leads to heightened engagement and award-winning culture.
As another example, retailer Patagonia shook things up in late 2017 when it proclaimed on social media “The President Stole Your Land” after the Trump administration moved to reduce a pair of national monuments. In a way, this is potentially off-putting for the sizable chunk of its customer base that supports Trump, but given that Patagonia serves (and employs) an outdoorsy audience, the sentiment resonated and the company is thriving.
Know Your Industry and Competition
On the surface, Salesforce taking a public stand on gun control seems quite audacious. The Washington Post notes that retailers like Camping World, which figured to be affected by the new policy, are major customers for the platform. What if this drives them elsewhere?
However, peer companies like Amazon and Shopify have their own gun restriction policies in place, so the move from Salesforce isn’t as “out there” as one might think. When you see your industry as a whole moving in a certain direction, it’s beneficial to get out front and position yourself as a leader rather than a follower.
Actions Speak Louder
Empty words are destined to backfire. Taking a stand is meaningless if you can’t back it up. Analysts warn that “goodwashing” is the new form of “greenwashing,” a term that refers to companies talking a big game on eco-friendly initiatives but failing to follow up with meaningful actions.
According to MWWPR’s chief strategy officer Careen Winters (via AdWeek): “Companies that attempt to take a stand on issues but don’t really put their money where their mouth is, or what they are doing is not aligned with their track record and core values, will find themselves in a position where the corpsumers don’t believe them. Fifty-nine percent of corpsumers say they are skeptical about a brand’s motives for taking a stand on policy issues.”
Be Transparent and Authentic
One interesting aspect of the aforementioned FleishmanHillard study: 66% of respondents say they’ve stopped using the products and services of a company because the company’s response to an issue did not support their personal views; however another 43% say that if company explains WHY they have taken a position on an issue, the customer is extremely likely to keep supporting them.
In other words, transparency is essential. If you fully explain the “why” behind a particular brand stance, you can score trust-building benefits with both those who do and do not agree.
Where We Stand at TopRank
At TopRank Marketing, we have a few stances that we openly advocate.
One is gender equality; our CEO Lee Odden noticed many “top marketers” lists and editorial collaborations were crowded with men, so he (and we) have made it a point to highlight many of the women leading the way in our industry, both through our content projects and Lee’s annual Women Who Rock Digital Marketing lists (10 years running!).
Another is our commitment to serving a deeper purpose as a business. Of course we want to help our clients reach their business goals, but we also love working with virtuous brands that are improving the communities around them. We strive to also do so ourselves through frequent volunteering, donations to causes, and charitable team outings. These include packing food for the hungry, renovating yards for the homeless, and our upcoming Walk for Alzheimer’s participation.
The Worst Stand You Can Take is Standing Still
Trust in marketing is growing more vital each day. It’s not enough to offer a great product or excellent customer service. Increasingly, customers want to do business with companies they like, trust, and align with. Those brands that sit on the sidelines regarding important issues are coming under greater scrutiny. Meanwhile, those with the guile to take bold but strategically sound stands are being rewarded.
To learn more about navigating these waters without diminishing trust or eroding your brand’s credibility, take a look at our post on avoiding trust fractures through authenticity, purpose-driven decision-making, and a big-picture mindset. Or check out these other entries in our “Trust Factors” series:
- The B2B Marketing Funnel is Dead: Say Hello to the Trust Funnel
- Trust Factors: The (In)Credible Impact of B2B Influencer Marketing
- Trust Factors: How Best Answer Content Fuels Brand Credibility
- Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics
- Be Like Honest Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling
The post Trust Factors: Why Your Brand Should Take a Stand with Its Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Are you ever around women who seem frustrated, upset or irritated? Have you ever asked one of them if she was on her period or perhaps been tempted to inquire?
Take it from me: Don’t. Presuming that female reproductive organs make women behave irrationally is rude and sexist. It also evokes the same unscientific beliefs that have always held women back.
I’m a sociologist who on a daily basis simply for existing. In studying the , I’ve learned that men and women alike can contribute to gender inequality in seemingly innocuous ways, including through what might seem like small talk. Read more…
Thank you for reading.