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Reader's Round-Up: Humbled in the jungle
The Drum Network's Reader's Round-Up, gives Drum Network members the opportunity to have their say on the hot topics featured in The Drum's fortnightly magazine.
The Drum's latest issue highlights some current issues that face marketers today for example how creativity can help in the refugee crisis, the diversity issues within the industry and the nature of private lives. The Drum Network members have commented on the trending topics, ranging from the changing ways we are looking at email marketing, and how we can change people's attitudes to food, death, and actually doing things.
'Is email marketing dead?'
Dominic Edmunds, CEO of SaleCycle, on Simon Martin's piece on the apparent 'death' of email marketing.
I lost connection to my inbox for 2 hours last week whilst out of the country and I felt like my thumbs had been cut off, so the simple answer is no. But seriously email seems to be underrated. I think that’s because it’s part of our daily digital diet, we take it for granted and that’s no bad thing as it’s reliable but, to some, it’s just not sexy anymore.
The problem is… they’re wrong: According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. These findings are echoed by the results of the our email remarketing clients. Sales tracked from these emails have increased online sales by up to 10%, generated conversion rates as high as 5%, produced average order values over 14% higher than direct sales and achieved open rates reaching over 50% and click through rates of over 20%.
The truth is that, whilst social is essential in the modern marketing mix, it’s actually a complimentary tool. Much in the way that email never killed the phone, social won’t be the death of email. Although email and social are different, email is the big brother of social. It’s already grown up and found ways of becoming efficient. You just have to look at the success of the on-going developments in Gmail, which gives the user more and more automated control of their inbox.
Equally, spam has also been blamed for the death of email. However, the same problems have exposed themselves in the world of social. I’m sure we all know how difficult it can be to manage our Twitter timeline; well, it’s won’t get any easier with marketers vying for our ‘likes’ and retweets.
Lauren McGregor, senior account manager, Impero
If my inbox is anything to go by, email marketing is making something of a comeback. I say comeback as the information that I receive is targeted, engaging and something that I want to read. The reason for this? I’m like most people, fickle.
I’ll explain myself. If I don’t like it, even if I have liked every other email that has been sent to me from that company, I will unsubscribe. I subscribe to emails all the time and I’ll unsubscribe after the first or second email if I don’t like it. My mailbox is a sacred space that I have worked years to ensure isn’t the spam fest that it was in the early days of email marketing.
As an example. When it comes to buying new clothes online, I don’t even go to retail websites, I wait for the new ranges or sales to be sent to me via email. And I don’t think I’m the only person who does this. For my food shopping, I can be completely converted to doing it online rather than in-store if I have a targeted email with an offer or reminder in it.
This is powerful stuff. Email marketing changes my behaviour as a consumer. And like social media, I check my email multiple times per day. Unlike social, emails sent to me are seen 100% of the time.The key to email marketing is to make it highly targeted and adaptive to user behaviour. Look at what your subscribers are engaging with, follow up with them on social and be targeted with what you next send them based on these findings. And don’t forget to reward them for interacting with your emails, if they take the time to open them they deserve it!
If you can link personalisation and social media integration then you’ve found the holy grail of email marketing.
'To personalise, or not to personalise'
Mike Fantis, VP managing partner of Make It Rain, on Matt Dunn's opinion on email personalisation. Dunn's piece focuses on the buzzword which dominates the marketing industry- is it cool or creepy?
We’ve reached a point, thankfully, where it’s not about sending more emails, but all about sending better ones. Email content based upon preference data and previous purchases just isn’t enough anymore, as customers increasingly show a desire for truly dynamic, personalised, one-to-one conversations. This is demonstrated by the fact that 36% of global consumers are willing to share their current location with retailers via GPS, which is more than double what it was just one year ago. If this tells us one thing, it’s that customers want real-time personalisation in the emails they receive.
How many brands are maximising this functionality today? Brands spend huge amounts of money to gather this data. They must work harder to keep their audience engaged.
Dynamic email content, which renders at the time of opening and not at the time of send, is one of the latest trends we are seeing in email personalisation. This emerging technology allows marketers to personalise email content based on factors such as the recipient’s current location, and the local weather forecast for that day. Content adjusts each and every time the same recipient opens the same email. Such truly dynamic content could be the holy grail of personalised email.
In addition, we are also seeing a future where augmented reality and wearable technology will come together, and close the gap between online and offline brand communications. It’s still early days for wearables, but this could open up new and exciting opportunities for real-time and automated email marketing. Currently most companies use just a handful of automated triggers, but with its ability to deliver regular information to a customer, wearables could open up new opportunities for email marketers to create relevance based on the device wearer's location, or proximity to others.
Personalisation is, without question, the future for brand communication. The better businesses get at building a single view of their customer, across all of their data silos and touchpoints, the more sophisticated they will become at personalisation.
James Brooke, managing director of Rooster PR, replies to Jonathan Hemus' analysis of Volkswagen's PR disaster, and whether crisis PR has any chance of trying to save VW.
To say it’s been a difficult fortnight for VW would be putting it lightly. The emissions scandal has sent shock waves across the automotive industry and transformed public perception of a brand that was otherwise seen as trustworthy and reliable. It’s also raised key issues about the importance of issues management and crisis communications. While the initial fire has been dampened through an admission of guilt and the resignation of chief executive Martin Winterkorn, there is a mountain of work to be done in order to restore the public’s confidence in the brand.
The biggest issue VW currently face is the power vacuum left at the top following Winterkorn’s departure. It’s now vital that VW respond with the appointment of a respected leader who can quickly work to banish the perceptions that this was a company-wide failure. Effective crisis communications relies on strong leadership coupled with clear and coherent messaging that ensures that everyone is on the same page. Ensuring that your PR, marketing and social media teams are crystal clear on your response and action plan going forward, means you can prevent further damage through miscommunication both internally and externally. Dithering or unclear statements will only heighten the damage to your reputation.
The importance of listening to your audience(s) in real-time can’t be underestimated either. It sounds obvious, but closely monitoring your social media channels to ensure you’re aware of conversations around your brand, and can engage where necessary, is important. That being said, social media can be a blessing and a curse for modern day crisis communications – on one hand it means (mis)information can spread like wildfire, but it also allows companies to issue immediate and easily visible responses to the wider public.
The fact that VW is such a well-known brand and that the crisis wasn’t directly affecting their customers means that recovery is possible, but it will be a long and painful road. Trust in the brand has been dented, so it’s vital for VW to respond in a quick and impactful manner.
'Is diet a dirty word?'
Karen Fewell, founder of Digital Blonde & The Food Marketing School, has commented on Marie Stafford's study into the future of food and drink.
Research has shown we make more than 200 decisions a day about food and most of these are subconscious. So it is fascinating to consider how much of an influence marketing has on these unconscious decisions to eat.
It got me thinking about my own relationships with food and the impact of marketing. Growing up, diet culture was everywhere. As a child my family cooked Rosemary Conley recipes, in my 20s I joined in with the Atkins craze. And, of course, Weight Watchers, which famously allowed dieters like me to have our cake (or chocolate!) and eat it, as long we stuck to the points allowance.
These days, I would argue it’s actually harder than ever for the average person to know what they should be eating. The wealth of information and education out there is vast and conflicting. It isn’t hard to find some kind of scientific justification to eat a certain way. Whether it is calories, fat or sugar content, carbohydrate or protein levels – it’s not long before you come across contradictory messages.
It seems we are making something that’s actually pretty easy to understand, into something complicated. A quick look at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram gives conflicting information on a daily basis. Eat wholemeal verses avoid carbs for example, or eat low-calorie snacks verses avoid processed foods. That’s without even mentioning the unrealistic diet results found all over the internet, showing 4-6 week transformations. The reality is that a sensible one pound a week weightloss goal for a year is far more attainable – but this doesn’t work so well in the digital age when quick and clearly visible results are needed.
I would like to think the word diet is dead, but the reality is that thanks to the conflicting information out there, the general public is not as educated on what to eat as we might think. As marketers we know about how to persuade people through understanding the principles of neuroscience and psychology. This means food brands and restaurants are capable of encouraging us to eat in ways which are not healthy.
Through the Digital Blonde Food, Emotions and Marketing Lab we look at academic research and run our own experiments to better understand human relationships with food. It’s a long but fascinating journey. We are entering an age where food brands are starting to be more responsible, I believe this will continue. It has to, for the health of future generations. As marketers we have a responsibility to help businesses grow but in a way that isn’t detrimental to the long term wellbeing of the population or the planet
'What's the plan?'
Stewart Easterbrook, chairman of Media iQ, talks about the recent Plan It Day event, prequelling The Drum's Do It Day.
Reading about the 'Plan It Day' confirmed, yet again, just how inspiring these sorts of initiatives can be. In our industry we have the luck every day to be working amongst bright and creative minds. It always impresses when groups of such talents come together, free from the shackles of everyday routines and structures, to work towards a common goal. The output of combining such diverse talents is almost always staggeringly good.
As well as celebrating such an inspiring day, I think this event also raises questions for clients, media owners, agencies and specialists alike - why are such free-flowing, collaborative sessions so rare when the output is so valuable? How do clients (who are paying for the work, after all) ensure they have the right talents around the table and how do they best create an environment where this sort of collaboration becomes routine?
I believe the next few years will see clients demand more disruptive approaches, more often, to meeting their business objectives and that these approaches must be informed by a better, data-informed understanding of their customers.
Is the right talent around the table? On 'Plan It Day' it clearly was!
Jonny Tooze, managing director, Lab
A journey through death...
The Drum’s Do It Day and Plan it Day seemed like a laugh, until we were tasked with breaking the taboo around death. Then it was hilarious. This is just the kind of challenge that we like – strong emotions, immediate cultural disruption and taking an alternative view on a subject which has traditionally been largely ignored.
With the help of the guys at Trinity Mirror, The Death Café and Co-operative Funeral Care, we learned about how people in the UK view death today. It’s surprising just how many of us shuffle off without so much as a conversation around how we might want that ceremony to run - let alone doing the basic admin or keeping a piggy bank topped up.
It’s incredible when you think about it. Leaving your loved ones with such a burden of decision making right at the point when they are the most vulnerable. The real problem we faced is that to be seen as a nice person or brand, you have to be sensitive, and frankly, it’s the sensitivity around death that has stopped Britons from asking the tough questions.
People die. That’s pretty certain for all of us. I say pretty certain, as who knows where technology will take our species in the next century – we may end up living to a point where we don’t even call it death any more. Maybe we will have evolved to a point where our lives are so long that we yearn for, and even value death, to the point where it becomes more of a celebration - or even a choice.
Currently, the attitude is quite clearly that most of us enjoy clinging to life, a state of mind which makes us stick our heads in the sand as soon as the topic comes up.
Why plan our death when we should be focusing on living?
We knew that in order to alter the way society thinks about death, we couldn’t create a slow-burning, sensitive campaign. It would take too long. We needed to start the conversation today.
Putting sensitivities aside, we looked to fight fire with fire and, after a conversation around what we would do for our partners if they suddenly passed, two things happened. The first thing was that we laughed – none of us really knew what we’d do. The second was a realisation that laughter was covering a sense of shame – we would want to treat our loved ones better than that.
Shame is such a good tool in marketing. But nobody buys shame - it’s not an emotion people particularly enjoy. So we thought about how we could take the sting out of death by using humour to get the conversation started. Don't Tell The Corpse was born.
The basic principle was that one partner would plan the other partner’s funeral without input from them or their families. The other partner would then have to attend their own funeral.
Obviously, this would be incredibly controversial TV (or most likely web shorts, being a digital agency and all) but that’s exactly what was needed to start the conversation. It would be an incredibly emotional journey for everyone involved. Starting with the hilarity – someone totally out of their depth, making bad decisions, not really knowing what they were doing. Then moving on to actually thinking about the death of their partner.
Have they ever thought of living without them? Or do they really appreciate them? Do they appreciate their own life and what really matters? Who would attend the funeral – which songs would be played, the coffin, the eulogies… all pretty tough stuff to go through, even for a viewer. I’m sure people sitting on the couch would cringe and laugh and cry, laugh more and hug a little tighter. And when the program was finished, I’m also sure that they’d look at each other and ask:
What would you want if you died?
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