Authentic content crucial for consumer engagement, report finds

Brands have work to do in terms of delivering the original, genuine content that consumers desire, according to a new report. Social media aggregator Stackla has published a report with findings that most people believe less than half of brands are creating authentic videos, news, blogs and ads that resonate with them on this level.

Stackla’s 2017 Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age takes an in-depth look at the types of content consumed and shared across social and other platforms every day, and how these resources actually influence the purchasing decisions customers make.

While celebrity-centric, consumerist culture is pervasive among young adults in the western world, 86% of the 2,000 people surveyed said that authenticity was the single most important factor they considered when deciding whether to support a brand — high-quality content is vital for achieving this objective.

Brands may also want to consider outsourcing their creative to an agency, as the penalty for producing content that is not authentic is severe. 30% of millennials said they have unfollowed a brand on Facebook, Instagram and other social sites after seeing images and videos that did not resonate with them and that appeared inauthentic.

Purchase intent also increased by 300% after consumers viewed or read authentic content from a brand. “Today, authenticity is king. Consumers are inundated with content, and the only way brands can cut through all that noise is with authentic content,” Stackla co-founder, CMO and Chief Product Officer Peter Cassidy concluded.

Marketers to increase spend on localised content in 2018

The vast majority of content marketers are planning to spend more on transcreation and translation services in 2018 as they attempt to improve how they adapt and localise news, articles and videos in order to engage with a global audience.

A new study by tech enterprise Smartling recently polled the opinions of more than 300 marketing professionals across Europe and North America, and found 94% are set to increase localisation investment during the next twelve months due to a shift in market demands.

The digital age has effectively reduced the barriers to entry for many brands seeking to broaden their horizons and 80% of respondents said engaging content was an “essential” part of expansion strategies when entering new markets. Three-quarters also said they plan to invest more in transcreation, as it is already a key revenue driver.

“Companies active in multiple geographic markets understand the many benefits localised content can deliver, but not all know how to best leverage this powerful competitive differentiator,” Smartling VP of Marketing Juliana Pereira said.

She added: “In today’s global business environment it’s all about enhancing, tailoring and personalising customer experiences. Providing translation in the local language goes the extra mile to show your customers that your brand speaks their language, quite literally.”

It means brands and marketers will look to work with digital agencies in the coming months as they make significant attempts to overhaul and optimise company content, websites, social media and mobile apps so they can be viewed, read and consumed by users in multiple languages.

Bloggers spending more time on media rich content

The latest annual blogger survey published by Orbit Media Studios has found that creators are spending more time on long form content and publishing fewer articles in order to engage with audiences more effectively.

Researchers collated feedback from 1,000 bloggers for the study and the main takeaway is that quality is much more important than quantity. During the first study back in 2014, two to six posts per week was the most popular schedule for bloggers, but now 22.7% say they publish just several pieces every month.

The annual report only covers individual bloggers rather than brands. It notes that the latter are actually increasing their publishing frequency to drive business results. What is likely to be a common trend for both parties is the desire to spend more time on meaningful content capable of resonating with audiences.

One in ten respondents now say they spend more than six hours writing a typical blog post and of this group, almost half claim to see “strong results” from each piece of content.

Digital marketing experts at Vertical Measures (VM) revealed that it has recently shifted to a “10x content” strategy. This approach focuses on producing something that is significantly better than the current article that ranks at the top of Google’s search engine rankings when typing in specific keywords associated with a certain topic or brand.

VM representatives added that content with rich visual elements and in-depth copy boosted the organic traffic to their website by 33.51% and blog by 49.42% during a single month earlier this year. Blogging was also responsible for an 84% uptick in traffic across the site.

Older people feel misrepresented by brands in ad content

A new study by YouGov found that older people are unsatisfied with their representations in the content they see online. They believe beauty and fashion brands are among those that least accurately portray them in advertising.

40% of the UK population is now made up of people aged 50 and over. But, it appears that ads and media still have a long way to go to make older generations feel good about themselves when consuming the vast array of videos and images posted in social media or websites online.

Renowned actress Helen Mirren recently fronted a ‘Gold, not Old’ campaign for L’Oreal. However, this sort of representation still remains uncommon as YouGov, who recently polled the opinions of 1000 people, found just a fifth of people aged 50 and above believe that representations put forward by brands for older age groups are accurate.

Ads for beauty products are most likely to draw the ire of this peer group. Cosmetics also fared badly, as did the fashion industry. Perhaps surprisingly, technology enterprises ranked as the third least inclusive overall.

L’Oreal Paris’ UK general manager Adrien Koskas said the latest data mirrored its own research on the subject, as it also found that women over 55 often feel “invisible” or forgotten entirely in advertising. He added: “Our campaigns aim to celebrate ageing instead of denigrating.”

There was good news for some brands though. Respondents to YouGov’s survey felt the health industry was the best at representing them positively, while financial products also did well in this regard. TSB’s marketing director, Pete Markey, said agencies and brands must do their homework to create content that resonates with older people.

He concluded: “Over 50s today rightly still feel very young and data would suggest that with more disposable income they are more adventurous and brand loyal. I am also a big fan of having diverse teams and having a wide range of backgrounds and age groups in a marketing team particularly if that reflects your target audience is critical.”

Facebook releases Dynamic Creative ahead of holiday season

Facebook rolled out two new tools including Dynamic Creative to help brands optimise their content marketing campaigns in the run up to the busy shopping season from November through to Christmas.

The headline addition is Dynamic Creative, a new tool that will automate the content process by creating a series of ad variations. This will allow brands to feed in the videos, images and text they want to use for a campaign and then sit back and allow the dynamic tech to come up with different combinations. Facebook said the tool would help marketers to “cut through the noise”.

Analytics is at the core of Dynamic Creative. It evaluates ads to see how they resonate with target audiences. The second tool will make it easier to assign these different versions of the same creative content to each ad environment. Facebook claims this more tailored approach will optimise ad spending and streamline campaigns for the holiday season.

Facebook said in a business blog post on Wednesday: “Dynamic creative will analyse which version of the ad performed best with each audience and in each placement, including News Feed, Instagram and Audience Network giving you the insights you need to run the most effective ads and drive results for your business.”

Twitter also announced in midweek that it is set to launch a new online Transparency Centre so users can ascertain more information about the ads they see from brands on the platform. The new hub will show stats for how long an ad has been running and the ad creative involved, while a “visual indicator” label will highlight any electioneering ads.

Twitter is rolling out improved user controls and stricter ad policies too. “This is a great move by Twitter — because they control all of their inventory inside of their audience based platform, they can build unique features that build trust among their community and the world at large,” Unified CEO and co-founder, Jason Beckerman said. “Companies taking steps like this to self-police will create greater trust and limit blow back when situations like the 2016 election issues arise.”

Consumers inspired to complete purchases by visual content

Three-quarters of consumers are inspired to purchase products and services after consuming visual content online, according to a new study published by tech enterprise ViSenze.

The 2017 Visual Commerce Report: Retail surveyed more than 1,000 people in the US to determine the influence of content including videos, images and infographics. The motivation to undertake the study arose following the recent rise of visual searches and the pivot towards creative clips on social media and other online platforms.

Key findings from the study include the fact that the majority of consumers now prefer to use online outlets to buy items rather than visiting a physical store, which is one of the main reasons why visual content is becoming so crucial to driving awareness and conversions in the digital space. 75% said they were inspired to buy after watching a video or seeing an arresting image.

However, brands need to revitalise the cycle between item discovery and purchase. 52% of respondents said that they often find it challenging to actually find the products they want to purchase online. There is potential for proactive brands to make an impression with the right content as more than two-thirds are willing to see recommendations if their first-choice product is unavailable.

Marketers should better deploy visually focused platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, because 44% of consumers now use social media at least five times a day. One-third say their buying journey begins on social every month. Brands could, for example, use buyable pins on Pinterest to facilitate direct commerce.

“Social media as well as the increasing amount of visual content available online influences consumer purchase behaviour more every day,” ViSenze CEO and Co-Founder Oliver Tan said. “Our Visual Commerce Report: Retail confirmed for us that retailers must revamp the way their products are discovered online in order to streamline the path to purchase.”

He added: “We have watched as the demand for visual search has grown, and ensuring that every product can be found, referenced, and understood based on visual attributes is the only way to capitalise on these moments of inspiration happening at any time during the customer journey.”

Content strategy helps National Geographic boost Snapchat subscribers

National Geographic increased its Snapchat subscriber base by more than three million people in just three months after combining its natural flair for visual storytelling with a more focused and streamlined content strategy.

Nat Geo has used arresting images on traditional print covers to build its brand for decades, but it is now tapping into social media to drive awareness and reach out through alternative channels. Snapchat’s Discover initiative, which allows major publishers to deliver ad supported short form content to users, has been particularly fruitful for the global nonprofit organisation.

Stephanie Atlas, Nat Geo’s senior director for the Snapchat Discover team, has revealed that eliminating silos and bringing talented people from across the organisation, including UX designers and video producers, has significantly increased audience numbers on the social platform.

Various studies and leading industry figures have stated that developing content that online audiences actually want to consume is the major challenge for brands. Atlas echoed these sentiments, adding that it was difficult to focus on creating content that not only resonated with subscribers but also suited social platforms.

“It’s a question of tailoring what you’re doing to that audience and making sure you’re not just repurposing content,” Atlas said. “People think you can take what’s on television and do it online, for example, but people will notice that. You have to make sure that you’re speaking the language of that platform.”

Nat Geo appears to be succeeding in that aim, because the brand is now enjoying a 200 to 400 percent increase in the number of daily active users, in addition to a significant uptick in completion rate and year-to-date revenue. Audience numbers also soared by 160 percent during the last quarter.

Engaging content has been central to this success and Atlas admits that Nat Geo often has to draw on a vast number of different skill sets to ensure that their material is always the highest quality. “We want to make sure these pieces feel personal and not ‘hosted,'” Atlas concluded. “The most important point is that the photographers are the vehicles for the story, not the main attraction.”

KFC’s clever marketing ploy on Twitter

KFC has earned a well-deserved reputation for using unusual marketing approaches to call attention to the brand. In the past, it has promoted curious products such as a chicken corsage, which came with a KFC gift certificate. It also briefly offered chicken-scented sunscreen, and visitors to the KFC website snapped up the 200 free tubes available in two hours.

While these two promotions were unconventional, the company’s latest marketing ploy on Twitter relied on subtle humour. On Sunday, Inc. Magazine noticed that KFC’s Twitter account was following only 11 people.

It follows Geri Horner, Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Melanie Brown and Melanie C. The names may not sound familiar to you if you weren’t a pop music fan in the late 1990’s, but those five women were the members of the extremely popular music group, the Spice Girls.

The other six people that KFC follows on Twitter have only one thing in common – they all have the same first name, Herb. The account follows Herb Alpert, Herb Dean, Herb Scribner, Herb Sendek, Herb Waters, and Herb J. Wesson, Jr.

Yes, KFC’s clever marketing ploy is that its Twitter account follows 11 herbs and spices, just like the secret ingredients in its recipe.

KFC’s digital marketing team came up with the idea in collaboration with Wieden+Kennedy, the company’s advertising agency. W+K is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and has a worldwide presence.

“Our vault was getting cleaned, so I thought the best place to keep the secret recipe was on Twitter,” Bentley McBentleson, KFC’s digital marketing manager, said ” ‘No one’s going to look at who we’re following!’ I thought. Boy, was I wrong. I’ve made a huge mistake.”

Obviously, nobody made a mistake. The ploy has made a strong impression, and many media organisations have published this playful story.

In a recent interview, Greg Creed, CEO of Yum! Brands – the Fortune 500 company that operates the KFC brand – said the company has used marketing to reinvent itself. He noted that KFC uses unusual marketing ploys to develop an emotional connection with its customers, and he believes that doing so is critical for growing the brand.

TUI protects SEO rank during rebranding with content marketing

This week, the UK’s largest travel firm officially changed its name from Thomson to TUI. Thomson has been a familiar name in the UK travel industry for over 50 years, and the company was very much aware of the risks involved in rebranding. A shift from one website to another could have been devastating to its travel bookings if the company did not do it correctly.

The company has devoted the past six months to painstakingly changing the Thomson brand to TUI, the name of the parent company in Germany. The challenge for the company was protecting the SEO equity it created in the thomson.co.uk website, as 50% of the traffic to that site resulted from SEO activities.

The company’s new website, tui.co.uk, has much less SEO equity in travel and holiday searches compared to its old site, and the company wanted to avoid a decrease in relevance and authority when it made the switch. To accomplish this, it decided to create a digital content centre to dramatically increase the SEO equity in the new URL.

The rebranding effort began with developing a landing page to communicate the name change, and it grew into a group of pages with a Hello TUI theme. These pages provide visitors with videos showing holiday locations combined with articles describing those locations. By including targeted images and fast-loading multimedia presentations, the Hello TUI content centre is SEO-friendly, and the content is also mobile friendly. The company optimised the content to entice visitors to stay longer and to obtain higher rankings in search engine results.

TUI noted that as of the end of September, the digital content centre has attracted over two million visitors, and they have spent an average of over 11 minutes engaging with the content.

TUI worked closely with Google in making the switch to the new website, and it was that collaborative work that led to the idea of creating the digital content centre. Google demonstrated to the company the importance of engaging content in the algorithm it uses to rank websites.

How to measure the quality of your content

If you want your business to be successful, you must find a way to differentiate yourself from your competition. An effective strategy is to create high-quality content that draws visitors to your website and convinces them to develop a long-term relationship with your brand. To accomplish this, the trick is to evaluate your content and determine its quality level so you see maximum returns upon its publication.

Quality can be complicated to measure, because you can use your digital content to meet a wide range of goals These include securing more conversions, increasing your ranking in search results, improving customer retention and improving your brand’s visibility. Fortunately, there are several reliable strategies you can use to determine the quality of your content.

You can look at your content to see if it meets universal measures of good content.

  • Offer accurate information. Your content should be based on established research rather than your beliefs or “gut feel.” If your content contains facts and statistics, you should cite their sources.
  • Cover a subject in depth. This does not necessarily mean that your content must be lengthy, but it does mean it should not be superficial.
  • Presentation matters. It should be easy for visitors to scan through your content if they only wish to glean the highlights, and it should have a logical structure to make it easy for people to follow. Including images and videos also can help visitors comprehend the content’s salient points.
  • Add value. Ideally, your content should be practical, giving your visitors advice on how to accomplish something or how to manage a specific situation.
  • Be original. Your content should be unique. If the subject matter has been covered before, you should have a new take on it.

You can also determine the quality of your content by analysing how well it helps you achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to attract additional traffic to your site, you can measure the number of new visitors who click on that page, either from search engine traffic or through social media.

Keep in mind that you just don’t want to know if the quality of your content is good. You also want to identify any weaknesses and make the necessary improvements if necessary.