Article | February 25, 2021
We’re now living in a world dominated by technology and digitisation. Whatever the business or industry may be, technology is sure to be at the heart of it, and if it isn’t already, it will be very soon.
Thanks to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the entire world has been thrust into upping the ante when it comes to living much more digitally and often, virtually.
Not only are our usual get togethers being replaced by Zoom and FaceTime calls, but we are finding ourselves surrounded by technology in all aspects of life, and this will only continue.
Social media influencers kept the entire nation entertained throughout each and every lockdown, but now we’re seeing an influx in the number of virtual influencers filling our social media feeds, too.
Amelia Neate, Senior Manager at Influencer Matchmaker explains the role of AI within the influencer marketing industry and what we can expect from it, both now and in the future.
The rise of artificial intelligence
With the influencer marketing industry set to grow by 15% on a global scale, it is important for brands, agencies and influencers alike to adapt to the current times in order to see progression and boost sales.
Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t something we would necessarily associate with influencer marketing, but it is fast becoming a crucial aspect of many industries and businesses. And with that in mind, it is something we must utilise and understand, rather than shy away from.
Thanks to the effects of 2020, we have been forced to completely digitise our businesses quicker than we could have thought possible – but we did it, as did everybody else.
And with an influx of technologies becoming available to us, we’re able to develop our businesses and industries even further.
Although an unlikely partnership, AI-powered tools and influencer marketing could become quite the powerhouse, changing the landscape entirely.
AI and influencer marketing agencies
The relationship between artificial intelligence and influencer marketing has the potential to be quite literally, ground-breaking.
If used correctly, AI can be used to streamline the jobs of marketers and agencies, allowing them to focus on the human elements within influencer marketing.
Artificial intelligence can home in on problem-solving, data analysis and research, leaving the influencer marketing strategies to us, the experts.
AI-powered platforms can help agencies and brands identify fake followers, inauthentic engagement and unreliable social media influencers.
As well as this, AI is able to process and detect relevant and valuable content, and with the help of machine learning (MI) and natural language processing (NLP), can revolutionise the way brands and agencies conduct the way in which they work.
With the ability to generate likes, industries, demographics and interests of the influencer’s following, AI is not only beneficial for brands seeking to create collaborative campaigns, but also for influencers who are looking to understand their audience that little bit more.
By developing a better understanding of their audience and social media followers, influencers are able to ensure the content they put out is relevant and useful. This in turn, helps brands decide who they should work with.
Measuring success with AI
Not only can AI, MI and NLP help with the start of an influencer marketing campaign, but they also have the ability to collect data, analyse results and measure the levels of success.
Monitoring the results and performance of an influencer marketing campaign can be quite the task, and by using AI-powered tools, we are able to measure its success and more importantly, the return on investment (ROI).
Analysing a creator’s content and metrics, artificial intelligence is also able to examine the likes, comments, engagements rates and even conversion rates of a post, in whatever format.
AI has the power to predict ROI through performance benchmarking and forecasts, providing both influencers and brands with an estimated result based on their desired objectives.
A vision for the future
As we continue to see a rise in the use of artificial intelligence within the influencer marketing industry, we can also expect to see an influx in the number of virtual influencers filling our social media feeds.
Yes, you read that right – virtual influencers are becoming a force to be reckoned with, competing against the likes of real-life influencers.
Despite the fact that they don’t really exist, these influencers have most definitely made their mark on the industry, some of which have even worked with global brands such as Nike and Fenty Beauty.
This new wave of CGI influencer is fictional and generated by computers, however they have very realistic characteristics as well as the personalities of humans, and what’s more, brands are lining up to work with them.
It isn’t just virtual influencers that are becoming much more prominent as we enter a new decade of influencer marketing, though. Virtual assistants are now a part of the influencer marketing industry, too.
Whilst we may not typically associate Amazon’s Alexa or it's Google competitor with influencer marketing, they are in fact, influencers in a whole new form.
Now, consumers use their virtual assistants to ask for advice, or for product recommendations and for those that have one at home, they become a live-in influencer.
Supporting brands and businesses within the retail industry in particular, just how much more will we see of virtual assistants as influencers? Only time will tell, and we can’t wait to find out.
Whilst it may seem like AI can take over the roles of us as humans, it simply cannot replace the work we do, but rather, enhance it.
If influencer marketing agencies utilise the tools available to us in the form of artificial intelligence, it allows us to streamline our processes, work closely with other people and focus on what we do best - building long-lasting relationships and partnerships whilst creating innovative and impactful campaigns.
Article | January 27, 2021
As we enter 2021 with a fresh and positive mindset, we are also entering the New Year with a brand-new set of tactics to help reach new consumers by placing brands, products and services at the forefront of desired audiences.
When it comes to brand marketing, storytelling is pivotal when trying to create relationships with consumers. By utilising emotion and taking a humanistic approach in this, brands are able to provide consumers with reasons as to why they should buy into their products, without a pushy, non-emotive hard-sell.
And with that in mind, Matthew Hayes, Managing Director at brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains why storytelling is a must-have tactic for the year ahead.
The art of storytelling
Now more than ever before, resonating with the audience on a personal level is key, and what better way to do that than through storytelling.
Marketing doesn’t always have to be about a direct sales pitch, but rather a connection and relationship that has been built up over time. And with that, comes brand loyalty and customer retention.
When done effectively, storytelling is truly an art within itself. Sales should equate to product education rather than direct instruction. And it is this, that makes people subconsciously realise their need or want for a product or service.
Storytelling takes the customer on an educational journey, allowing them to understand the brand, what it stands for, what the benefits are to them and why its products are good value for money. This then leads customers to build strong feelings of want and desire, rather than just need.
This is all part of creating a brand. Customers begin to feel something about it, which is want warrants a business or product the status of a brand. And it’s this emotional connection that differentiates you from being just a commodity seller based on price, and positions you as a recognisable ‘brand’ that people engage with on a deeper level.
And research demonstrates that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable and effective than facts, which is why brand storytelling is a must-have tactic for 2021.
How to tell a story
Creating a compelling narrative requires a carefully devised long-term strategy. But, while this is an important element, what is perhaps the defining factor in commercial success is its ability to resonate with us, as humans.
Storytelling should be powerful and filled with emotion, in whatever capacity that may be. From laughter and happiness to sadness and grief, emotion can come in a plethora of varieties.
Emotion is what captures the consumer and when a story is both personable and relatable, it builds brand love and deepens the connection between the brand and the consumer.
Not only that, but emotion also impacts the purchasing decisions of consumers and without it, businesses are much less likely to make that all-important sale.
And if brands combine emotion with consumer needs, then they have the recipe for success.
With the rapid onset of digitisation across all industry sectors fuelled by the COVID-19 crisis, the way in which a brand tells their story is having to change in order to keep up with the times and meet the newfound needs of consumers and channels.
With the plethora of channels and shortening attention span of the consumers, video content is the best way to evoke emotion. Put simply, videos are more engaging and because of that, will continue to play an increasingly important role in the marketing mix throughout 2021.
They are easy to understand, digest and share and typically create a deeper connection between the brand and consumer, meaning that people will resonate with it much more.
Storytelling done right
No one is better at brand storytelling and investing in emotions than the world-famous Disney. From its theme parks and hotels to its films, merchandise and staff, the entire brand has been built from the ability to tell a story, and consistency of delivery.
For consumers to truly connect with a brand, they must implement consistency across their strategy, messaging and storytelling. And while there may be creativity in the way these messages are conveyed, the underlying messages and ethos must remain to be consistent.
The Disney experience plays a pivotal role in the brand’s story. It’s narrative and essence completely come to life when consumers interact with its offerings, taking on a role within the storyline. In doing so, deeper emotional bonds are created, bringing the brand to the forefront of both people’s minds and memories.
Similarly, gym-wear brand Sweaty Betty have also become well recognised thanks to its ability to tell a story. What began as a normal brand selling high-quality gym-wear that sat outside of the norm, became known worldwide for changing its narrative by becoming so much more than just a provider of gym-wear.
Sweaty Betty is not only a brand for women, created by women, but a brand that listens to its consumers. It’s messaging such as ‘respect your sweat’ and ‘empowering women through fitness and beyond’ is reflective of inclusivity, body positivity and raises awareness of diversity, using its brand, products and people to continue to tell that very story.
A must-have tactic for 2021
In order to keep up and remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds, brands need to focus their strategies on telling a story.
Storytelling is as old as mankind, dating back to cave paintings and the bible. And modern-day storytelling allows brands to use the full extent of multi-channel media, applying to all of the five senses. It allows the brand to educate, taking the consumer on an educational journey rather than advertising, which can only convey one message at a time.
It can build in sub plots, ethos, ethics and values, bringing the full personality of the brand as well as the people behind these brands to life, while also highlighting how these ‘personality traits’ mirror those of the consumer.
It is through this 'bonding' that the consumer can feel for the brand, rather than simply seeing or knowing about it. Feeling is a pivotal part of branding, and without it, the brand and its products, are just a commodity, based on nothing more than consumer needs and cost.
Brands are consumed based on a want or desire, with price being far less prevalent. Therefore, brands offer businesses far greater profit margins and a more loyal consumer base - the holy grail.
And when executed effectively, the story helps build brand love through evoking a deeper, more authentic connection with its consumers.
As a result, brand storytelling is priceless, and quite simply a must-have tactic for 2021 and beyond.
Article | May 12, 2021
It has been over a year since retailers were forced to temporarily shut their doors or put in place restrictions to limit the in-store experience. Now, as we return to some semblance of normality, it’s essential that trust and brand value are retained for those operating a digital-only presence.
In this article, Nate Burke, CEO at Diginius, discusses how brands have effectively kept customers engaged, consequently building trust and brand value in the process, and what techniques to use while navigating the next steps of the pandemic.
As I write this, physical retail and outdoor hospitality are feeling a little more rejuvenated after welcoming customers back. My inbox and notification centre are full of alerts from brands offering high street discounts and incentives for scanning an app in-store. This is a prime example of how fast and timely brands need to be in order to capture their customers’ attention when trends and circumstances change.
It’s also a great example of how essential communication and marketing techniques are in building trust and creating brand value. While I might not be one to rush back to high street stores so soon, I do feel reassured and excited by these messages. And nothing could be more important at a time like this.
It’s a reminder that these shops are still there and are prepared to welcome customers back in. After all, if they’ve had time to plan and create a whole marketing campaign around the event, I can only hope their efforts towards a safe reopening have been given just as much thought and attention.
Digital tactics like those mentioned above have only ramped up during the course of the pandemic, where remote communication and at-distance offerings have been the only touch points between brands and consumers. And of course, this hasn’t been without challenge.
It’s human nature for us to trust and find greater value in something we can see for ourselves in person. Traditionally, brands have been able to create this through in-store experiences where customers know they can see products and services in action and are able to interact with staff and experts should there be any concerns. While digital channels do offer their own set of benefits, meeting these innate human needs is not one of them.
So, in a bid to retain consumer trust amid the uncertainty of forced closures, measures and constantly changing restrictions, we’ve seen a number of effective strategies from brands. Regular push notifications and email communications just scratch the surface. These tactics are a great way to generate instant response, whether it’s a brand reminder, an update on important changes or simply an alert of a new deal in an attempt to drive website traffic.
By now, it’s a known fact that personalised messages generate better results. And these forms of digital communication can certainly be personalised with little effort on the brand’s part. Whether it's a mass email with a tailored first name field, or an app alert that is sent as a restriction lifts - both feel personal and as though they have been sent by a real individual who knows who you are and understands the context of a situation.
But today’s customers need and expect more. These tactics have been used for years, and the sensitivity of the pandemic has called for a more human approach in terms of marketing and customer service. And that’s exactly what many successful brands have been doing.
While driving traffic to a website is important, it’s the service on offer once a customer lands on a page that makes the difference when it comes to building trust and brand value, and ultimately, converting. It’s all about translating the human in-store experience online.
For example, we’ve seen greater focus and uptake in live chat features on websites, with this now being an expected function for over half of consumers. Through such features, customers expect to be able to talk to a real person on the side of the screen who is able to understand their queries and responsively provide a solution.
Companies such as Currys PC World have taken this one step further, and now offer a ‘Shop Live’ feature that enables customers to video call a real sales representative who can help them with their purchase. In this way, brands are able to bridge the gap between themselves and their consumers, even in a time of social distancing. And as a result, are able to retain trust, while also adding value to their brand through the out of the box and supportive offering.
Other tactics have included offering incentives that encourage repeat purchases. For example, many online retailers offer unlimited next day delivery subscription services, whereby a one off higher yearly fee provides access to a year's worth of free delivery. With the delay between placing an order and it then arriving, as well as delivery fees being some of the biggest deterring factors from online purchases, the incentive has been incredibly effective in increasing loyalty. That feeling of the brand also offering you a better deal is also a great way to build trust, so even though a brand might be increasing the cost it incurs for delivery, the value of a repeating customer and their advocacy hold much more weight.
In this sense, it’s all about how a brand and its offerings are perceived by customers. And another sure fire way of improving brand perceptions is through PPC tactics. Anyone operating in ecommerce knows how competitive the market is. Ensuring your brand is seen above competitors is key in driving awareness and trust, as ultimately, a higher ranking and greater visibility reflect positively on a brand’s trustworthiness.
Clearly, there are a number of ways in which businesses can adapt and improve their offerings in order to encourage trust and add value. Of course, implementing all of these changes will be wasteful for budgets and not necessarily effective for every brand. Therefore, it’s important that you understand your market and customers, which can prove a challenge as things continue to constantly change as they have been.
But a solution may not be too hard to find. Insight software has advanced just as fast as these markets and customer behaviours. Therefore, with the right tools on your side, you can monitor shifts in the market in real time and adjust your offerings in response.
For example, if data shows you receive more website traffic at certain times, it may be an option to increase the number of customer service staff operating the live chat function during those periods in order to minimise waiting times and improve customer experience.
These tools can also help you decide which channels to focus PPC efforts on depending on those your customers visit most often. Using this data, you can then allocate budget accordingly, ensuring wasted spend is minimised while results are maximised. For example, during the pandemic, the figures were showing a greater uptake in use of marketplaces such as Amazon, as well as social commerce channels, including Instagram. If businesses understood this in real time, aided by collaborative commerce software such as VTEX, they may have been able to optimise their performance by increasing their PPC activity and consequently, visibility and status on such platforms.
Ultimately, commerce is facing a period of significant uncertainty that is having an effect on both customers and businesses alike. Regardless of whether stores are open or closed, customer behaviours and needs are constantly changing to keep up. And brands need to understand that how they communicate their messages and offerings is vital in retaining trust and brand value.
It’s evident that a humanistic approach is prevailing, as that is one thing that will never change. But as digital channels take centre stage, it all comes down to how a brand is able to translate its personable approach online. While there are a number of innovative methods brands are using to appear more human on online channels, using the tools and data available is key to ensuring activities help rather than hinder a business.
And in this way, not only will brands be able to retain trust and brand value, but they will be building on it too.
Article | August 5, 2020
On August 7th, Leslie To is sitting down with the folks at SEMpdx as part of their Engage VIRTUAL Conference to discuss the worst SEO mistakes that brands are still making in 2020. Leslie has over a decade of experience in SEO and is a regular on the SEO speaking circuit. SEMpdx is a non-profit organization that focuses on supporting the digital marketing community. She shares information on how these mistakes are inhibiting growth and provides insight on how to make proactive changes to your SEO strategy.