Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The rise and rise of personalisation in marketing

Marketers have long known the power of personalisation. It’s common sense really. The more relevant you make your marketing messages to anyone consuming them, the more impact you’re likely to make.

Researchers at the University of Texas studied why people seem to love personalised experiences and their research suggests that it has to do with our desire for control. If something is made exclusively for you it indicates that you had something to do with its creation, and therefore, you are in control.  Which means you’re special and important. Which means you like it.
Back in the day
But if we rewind fifty years, personalisation (as we now think of it) wasn’t possible to any fine degree. Those were the days where one-size-fits-all generic messaging was king; not because that’s the way marketers wanted it, but because it was all that technology allowed.

So let’s rewind a little less to just thirty years ago. Personalised direct mail print arrived and for the first time we started getting pamphlets through the post that would include our name (often over and over again) in the copy. Or lines like “…this winter, as the cold winds whistle past 22 Acacia Avenue, it’s time to consider double-glazing’.  It felt like rocket science at the time.
So what happened twenty years ago to fuel the rise of yet further personalisation? Come on people, think. Any ideas? Yes – the internet and more specifically the advent of e-tailers like Amazon who learned to take personalisation to a whole new level. Now our buying patterns were up for analysis, even our browsing patterns, allowing for genuine one-to-one recommendations to become a reality. It all felt a bit spooky at first, often getting skewed at Christmas when you bought gifts for friends that became part of your profile but over time the recommendations that this particular Amazon customer gets are strikingly tempting.  
Advertisers quickly took advantage of serving the right advert to the right prospect at the right time based on search and browsing data so that, miraculously, minutes after doing a search on home insurance for example, adverts would appear with offers for … well, you know the rest.
Personalisation today
Today, when we are bombarded with so much information, if we get highly targeted and relevant information that has been tailored to our needs and desires, it has a much better chance of cutting through. Fact.
So personalisation works and advances in data analytics and CRM technology mean that precision targeting is the norm. Or is it? The truth is that many marketers have been slow to adopt personalisation across all media and in particular video. Despite the fact that video consumption has grown exponentially over the last five years, many marketers doggedly continue to deliver single, generic videos to the masses. In fact, they use fifty year old thinking, despite the incredible advances made elsewhere.
With the right tools, marketers could have the very best of all possible worlds, with highly targeted personalisation combined with the power of video. It’s the next natural progression in the rise and rise of personalisation.  If you’re in marketing and it’s not on your radar, it really should be. It’s only a matter of time before it will be on your competitor’s.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Power your daily content with video

If I was working as part of a busy content marketing team, responsible for fuelling an organisation’s social marketing, I’d give my right arm for a way to create highly relevant videos, simply and easily and then serve those via whatever channel I choose.  Imagine reacting to customer comment with a highly relevant video post – perfect for some much needed social amplification, right? In fact, how long, realistically, until that becomes the norm?

But we all know it’s not that easy. Although video production costs have fallen considerably, making your own professional looking (and sounding) video response is actually quite tough. As an old marketing sage may well have said, you can hand anyone a pencil but that doesn’t mean they can draw.

omething’s got to change

We’re in 2015 and it already looks like Cisco’s prediction that 70% of internet traffic will be video by 2017 is pretty much on track. In the consumer space, YouTube vloggers are multiplying like locusts, posting tens of thousands of hours of material every day. Every hour actually. But as responsible business people we can’t just set up a webcam and produce rambling, unedited and poorly produced Vlogs can we? Don’t think about this for too long. The answer is no. No you can’t. What you can do is use any available corporate video material and post that. But then what? Once you’ve posted a generic video half a dozen times it’ll lose its bite, surely?

Where there is a want, there is a way

So having got excited about the prospect of fuelling your content with relevant video, how can you realistically make that happen? Personalised video technology may well provide the answer. Although you’re not necessarily dealing with your audience one to one, you’re not quite addressing the masses either. If you respond to a tweet with a video, it’s a response to one, though seen by many. Confused? You needn’t be.

The key word here is relevance. If you can post an entirely relevant clip for any purpose then you’re really on to something. Personalised video, like vCreate, allows you to do several things to ensure that every video you post is exactly on the money.

Personalised video to the rescue

he first opportunity is that within every corporate video library lies potentially hours of relevant material, often frustratingly surrounded with something too generic. A cloud-based personalised video tool (like vCreate) will let you select just the right clips and blend these into a single video.  Secondly, if you want to add something super-relevant, you can create video clips from PowerPoint, like an animated infographic for example, perhaps with a well-defined call to action. You can join this to either end of an existing clip if you wanted, to create something new and unique.

Video is the future of content marketing.  In an age of information overload it’s the perfect way to really cut-through, but only if it’s 100% relevant. For content marketing, when you’re reacting to comments and unfolding world events and business trends, staying relevant and incisive is the challenge. But personalised videos are more than ready to meet that challenge. But only if you are too.


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

No need to get so emotional - unless you're in B2B marketing.

Creating an emotional connection with a viewer, reader or audience member is really important, especially in B2B marketing. Instinctively we know it, but in our attempts to tread carefully through rules of corporate brand governance it can easily get forgotten. The trouble is, if you ignore this basic human principle, you’re in grave danger of being ignored or lost in the clutter of other competing messaging. In short, your efforts will have been wasted.

According to Psychiatrist Robert Plutchik there are 8 key emotions to choose from: Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Anger, Surprise, Anticipation, Trust, and Disgust. The eight dwarves if you will.

(Just to remind yourself how powerful and distinct each if these are, put yourself in front of a mirror and pull a face for each one. Perhaps a waste of time but when you see what you do for ‘surprise’ it’ll be worth it.)

That’s quite a choice when you consider that any one of these can work to enhance the power of your communication.

Why bother?

According to Google, CEB and Motista, there are lots of good reasons to pack an emotional punch. If a B2B buyer has an emotional connection with your company they are 5 times more likely to consider buying from you; 13 times more likely to purchase something and a whopping great 30 times more likely to pay a premium for the privilege.
Martin Lindstrom, author of ‘Buyology’, claims that when we buy, 85% of that decision is based on unconscious drivers and a mere 15% on jolly-good sensible conscious drivers. So appealing to the unconscious through emotional selling makes excellent sense.

Getting emotional

So how can you start to apply a little bit more emotion to your marketing? There’s no definitive formula here but here are a few ideas based on personal experience of successful campaigns.

Relentless positivity - Look for the positive benefits of what you and your company do and hammer these home. Medical insurance isn’t about being ill, it’s about well-being. A new smart phone isn’t about technical performance, it’s about enhancing lifestyle.

Fear - A powerful emotion in B2B where people are typically more risk averse than consumers. However, generally even more powerful when served up with a soupcon of positivity too. So anti-virus software may prevent virus attacks and hacks but also gives the peace of mind you need to focus on your own business, for example.

urprise - This one is a personal favourite as it’s all about doing the unexpected. Adding something unexpected is a great way to get and retain attention. Like a campaign we did for Salesforce.com which took the viewer’s name and photo from Facebook or LinkedIn and turned them into a business hero in the video they were watching. That stuff really works.

Let it all out

There are many ways to make an emotional connection but it’s a lot harder to do with a few lines of written text than it is to do with a picture. And it’s a lot harder to do with a single picture than it is with a video. And it’s a lot harder to do with a generic video than with a personalised one. But not impossible. To really shortcut to making an emotional connection I would opt for personalised video every time. But that’s only because I know it works. But I don’t want to get all emotional about it.


Monday, 6 July 2015

Do people really want to buy from people?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot and I think I can say with some degree of certainty that the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – but not always. Let me explain.

If I want some milk and bread do I have a preference from buying from a real-life human being? Probably not. If I did I wouldn’t rush to the self-service checkouts do the check-out job myself.  I trust that the milk and bread I get won’t be impacted by my interaction with a person. I’m not relying on them for anything more than taking my money in exchange for a receipt.

So let me move on. Let’s talk hair-cuts. Now that’s a personal service and we put our trust in certain individuals to do this task without making us look like one of the Three Stooges. But if that were automated and the results just as good, would we abandon our regular hair-dressers and be happy to sit in an impersonal booth? Well, some of us might and some of us wouldn’t.

So let’s move on again. I want a new Kitchen. I’m faced with a couple of options. I can measure it all out and order materials online. Or I can engage with a person who will help me make the right choices and save me from making mistakes. So now my preference is definitely to buy from a real-life person.

In B2B, there are often very different drivers to buy than in the consumer world. Often the sale is less one dimensional and transactional. It can often be complex with a variety of stakeholders involved and a project team required to make it happen. The fear of making the wrong decision is a big emotional motivator but it’s only one of many. So when everything else is relatively equal, business people will make their final buying choice based on the people they’re engaging with.  As Bob Burg puts it: “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”  We’re human beings after all and when we make an emotional connection we create a bond of trust. We rely heavily on instinct at this point and if the instincts are saying ‘I like and trust this individual to deliver’ it has a powerful impact on choice.
This time it’s personal
So a challenge for the B2B marketer and their sale’s colleagues is to create and maintain personal relationships with customers. Typically a sales person deals with more accounts than ever before. They can find that the customer knows as much (or more) about their products and services than they do.
So if we believe that people buy from people, how can we efficiently bring the ‘personal’ in to our marketing and sales strategies with limited budgets and resource?  How do we humanise our often huge, global brands?  Social media is certainly helping, as long as you have well-connected brand advocates who understand the rules of the game. When you get it right, the amplification of that ‘human’ side of the business can be huge.  But what about on a more micro-level?  One to one. Where it really counts.
There is a way
One highly effective way is through video personalisation; using video tools that allow self-recorded messages as part of the sales process.  It won’t replace the power of face to face meetings of course, but it’s a giant step up from de-personalised text.  In an important bid, for example, this type of personalisation is extremely powerful in showing personal and very real commitment to delivering the promise.  When the stakes are high, a short, personal video message from a senior individual can make a huge difference in closing the deal.  I’ve seen it work.
So if people buy from people – shouldn’t your people be speaking to their people? Even if it’s only on video?  It’s certainly worth thinking about when the stakes are high.