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GUEST BLOG: STUART GALVIN: How marketers can reap the rewards of an effective seasonal shopping strategy

Stuart Galvin, business director, smp

From January Sales to Shrove Tuesday to Singles Day to Christmas, more than ever marketers are run ragged by a brimming calendar of seasonal shopping events and trends.

Some brands are avoiding the big events completely, some are creating their own, while others are getting in there earlier and earlier just to achieve cut-through. Christmas displays in August sound familiar?

Tools are being created, such as Google’s Marketer’s Almanac, to help marketers navigate this ever-changing landscape. The digital yearbook leverages data, insights and consumer trends around key dates to help marketers get ahead with their planning.

However, while these tools are useful, they are not the be-all and end-all. Marketers need to take stock – and take charge – of their seasonal strategies.

First and foremost, timing is everything. This might seem very basic, but it’s something marketers often forget as they rush to pip their competitors to the post. With each and every shopping event, marketers need to know their target audience, understand what will motivate them, and target them with the right message at exactly the right time. Does a shopper really want to be prompted to stock up on Easter goodies when they haven’t even made it into Lent?

As such, rather than jumping on the band wagon of every event and risking ostracising audiences, brands are becoming savvier with their seasonal strategies. Bigger brands like Amazon, for example, often perform well during hyped-up shopping phenomenon like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2015, the e-tail giant experienced its best Black Friday sales to date; so, in 2016, it cleverly extended the sales period from a day to “Black Friday Week”, scooping up even more shopping activity.

But brands also need to think about context. Amazon and big, bold online shopping days make sense; but sometimes events just won’t work for certain brands. Asda, Ikea, Next and Homebase have all abstained from Black Friday. An Asda spokesperson said this was because its particular customers “wanted low prices throughout the festive season and not just for one day”. Its customers crave stability and strategy to help with their Christmas planning.

If the likes of Asda recognise some events simply aren’t right, no matter how economically prominent, smaller brands should take heed. Do they have the resources to take on certain events? Are sales and promotions competitively priced? Above all, what’s the point? Brands needs to ask what each shopping event would mean to its customers and their relationship with the brand. Consider the explicit Valentine’s Day cards pulled from the shelves of Paperchase this year. It was a step too far for the stationary stalwart.

That isn’t to say brands can’t have fun with seasonal shopping events. In fact, creativity should be encouraged, perhaps by exploring alternatives that fit better with the brand. In 2015, the Scottish Butcher held its biggest promotions in the run-up to Burns Night, while operating in-store tastings in Scottish branches of Tesco and Morrisons. The engagement was incredible, upping in-store sales by 40 per cent. Could this experiential approach be carried across borders, either by Scottish brands or non-natives, to surprise customers and generate buzz in other parts of the British Isles?

One of the biggest challenges in retail today is the explosion of channels through which people can shop, and through which brands can communicate with their customers. Physical retailers are often in the firing line, as ecommerce continues to grow at pace. However, seasonal shopping events are about capturing the spirit of the occasion, no matter the platform. Whether it’s Valentine’s rosy hues or the strawberries-and-cream Britishness of Wimbledon, the experience needs to be consistent and done with conviction.

The new shopping calendar can seem daunting to marketers, especially as retail becomes more global. Who knows where the next disruptive event might come from? No one knew, for example, that a Chinese celebration of singledom would, thanks to Alibaba, grow into the world’s biggest online shop-a-thon.

Rather than rolling out the same, timeworn strategies or getting blindsided by newcomers, now is the time to take stock. By assessing the landscape, cherry-picking events based on their value to both shoppers and for brand building, and planning accordingly, brands will ensure they play a more meaningful role for their customers, year in, year out.

Email marketing top of the ROI Charts

The 2017 Econsultancy/Adestra email Marketing Industry Census has revealed that email marketing is top of the ROI Charts for the third year in a row.

Based on a survey of over 1,200 marketers undertaken between February and March 2017, 73% of companies along with 76% of agency respondents rated it excellent or good.

Budget allocated, however, was only 15% of total marketing budget, with a feeling that the growing complexity of the digital marketing landscape still left many marketers confused as to how best allocate funds to create a more complete campaign.

Those marketers who are more tech savvy and able to master the data and successes within email marketing are set to gain business advantages over competitors over the next 12 month period.

“The results of this year’s Census show that marketers are struggling to see the bigger picture and stand by their choices,” explained Henry Hyder-Smith, Adestra CEO. “By getting the fundamentals working together – personalisation, automation, integration, optimisation – they can make the most of the technology available, offer their customers the experience they are looking for, and realise the benefits of becoming First-Person Marketers.”

Monica Savut, head of research services at Econsultancy, said: “Email continues to be one of the most effective marketing channels and it’s encouraging to see that marketers are looking beyond standalone campaigns by embracing marketing automation and personalisation. However, this year’s Census shows that marketers need to adopt a more rigorous approach, keeping a sharp focus on both technology and strategy while never losing sight of the customer.

“The rewards are there for the taking, but reaping maximum value is dependent on two key success factors: investment that is proportional to any potential returns and a comprehensive strategy that focuses on continuous measurement, testing and optimisation.”

The full report can be downloaded here:

2017 Email Marketing Industry Census

4 reasons you can’t miss the Print & Digital Innovations Summit

The Print & Digital Innovations Summit has evolved from the 10 year-old Print Services Summit, with the event having been repositioned in line with the requirements of print and marketing professionals in 2017.

But the format has remained the same – this one-day event will give you the opportunity to meet with new product, technology and solutions providers in a non-pressured environment. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to attend seminars sessions hosted by industry thought-leaders. And we’ll even throw in lunch and refreshments, too.

It all takes place on 23rd November 2017 at the Intercontinental London – The O2.

And you won’t be disappointed, as our former delegates can testify…

“The event was beautifully put together, the suppliers were amazing and perfect for what I was looking for”

“A great event to meet new potential suppliers and network with other marketing professionals”
Coats plc

“It was the best networking event I have ever been to – very carefully planned according to my needs. I found more partners who I am sure I can work together with in the future”

“A very good event and I valued the opportunity to meet with a number of suppliers in one day”

To register or for more information, contact Kerry Naumburger on 01992 374099 / k.naumburger@forumevents.co.uk.

UK’s love for cars tops social media posts

A report by social media analytics platform, Netbase, has revealed the UK’s love of luxury car brands.

The Brand Love List report looks at the brands consumers express the most love for in social media posts, with Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW 3 Series and Porsche 911 just some of the models that consumers are crazy about, with BMW, Audi and Porsche all featuring in the report’s top 10.

This is the second year that the report has been run. In the UK, Apple held onto the top spot, but showed that Google, in second place, was narrowing the gap which last year was 400,000, now down to 130,000 along with a lot of positive sentiment for Google Classroom. The remainder of the top five was unchanged with Lego in third with an abundance of shared excitement for themed Lego such as Lego Batman, Tesco in fourth with popular campaign hashtags including #triedforless and #bagsofhelp while BMW was ranked fifth.

The European Top Five brands differed only slightly from the UK with BMW taking fourth spot and consumer goods brand Adidas coming in at fifth place. The automotive sector once again proved popular with customers expressing much love, particularly in relation to the Porsche 911. While consumer goods brands including Gucci, Adidas, Lego and Christian Dior S.A. accounted for nearly 45% of the top loved brands, they only represented 21% of the mentions. Conversely, technology which was dominated by Apple and Google but also included SAP, Siemens and Dyson, represented 10% of the conversation they also represented over 55% of mentions.

While there’s much love for consumer goods brands, they still don’t even come close to the volume of technology conversation across Europe.

The data was gathered using NetBase’s social media analytics platform to surface the strongest, most positive consumer emotions towards brands from 2.4 million English language posts of earned mentions. Earned mentions mean those posts that were not posted by the brand itself, inclusive of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and millions of other sources during the one-year period April 2016 to April 2017. It then identified the 25 UK brands that get the most love.

The European report used the same sources across the same period from 6.5 million English language posts of earned mentions in 50+ European countries and identified a list of the 50 most loved brands.

Commenting on the UK report Paige Leidig, Chief Marketing Officer, NetBase said: “What’s interesting about automotive is that brands represent 25% of the list but account for only 13% of the conversation suggesting that there is an opportunity for them to spread the love and engage more influencers in conversation.

“The dominance of technology in social conversation is no surprise but the fact that Apple and Google are so far out in front indicates that they have now become an everyday part of the English language.”


Digital Marketing Briefing

Welcome to the new-look Digital Marketing Briefing

We’re delighted to introduce the Digital Marketing Briefing (formerly eConnect for Marketing) – your one-stop source of digital marketing & print industry news, in-depth analysis, events and jobs.

The Digital Marketing Briefing is brought to you by Forum Events, the company behind the enormously popular Print & Digital Innovations Summit and Digital Marketing Solutions Summit – two highly-focused events that bring marketing professionals and key industry solution providers together for one-to-one business meetings, interactive seminars and valuable networking opportunities.

We’ll be delivering the latest news and topical discussion from across the marketing and print sectors, directly to the people who matter – through this new-look online portal and a fortnightly email newsletter to 14,800 subscribers.

Our readership includes senior buyers and caters for all sectors, including Heads of Marketing, Marketing Directors, Heads of Marketing & Communications, Marketing Managers, Heads of eCommerce, MDs, Heads of Digital and many more, plus the countless suppliers who provide the sector with essential products and services.

For all Digital Marketing Briefing editorial enquiries, contact Darrell Carter on 07967 947 076 or email Darrell.Carter@mimrammedia.com.

For all advertising enquiries, please contact Sam Walker on 01992 374 054 or email s.walker@forumevents.co.uk.

Head & Shoulders muscles in on Tough Mudder

Proctor & Gamble owned shampoo brand Head & Shoulders has announced a sponsorship deal with endurance event Tough Mudder to become the official hair care partner for the 2017 season.

Both brands will work together to create a mini-series based on facing challenges with confidence.

Head & Shoulders will also have a presence at each of the Tough Mudder events, with showers offering Head & Shoulders to participants on completion of the race.

Speaking to The Drum, Proctor & Gamble hair care brand manager, Jo Vaughan said: “We see Head & Shoulders’ partnership with Tough Mudder as the perfect platform to engage with bold and brave consumers, in an environment which truly embodies overcoming and facing challenges.

“This campaign will enable us to take consumer engagement to the next level through the partnership and the digital activation that we have planned to support it.”

Tough Mudder’s senior vice president of partnership marketing, Donna Goldsmith, added: “We are excited to enhance the on-site experience for participants by providing the Head & Shoulders Men Ultra products at our rinse stations, allowing Mudders to rinse away the mud from the day while leaving the event with a new sense of personal accomplishment and confidence.”


‘Selfie generation’ drives £1bn UK cosmetics market

Figures released by US market research company IRI has found that the so-called ‘selfie generation’ is helping to drive up sales of cosmetics, as the trend for thicker brows and contouring continues – with a market in the UK now close to £1 billion.

According to the IRI figures, cosmetics is now the top-performing category within UK Health & Beauty, worth £893m (52 w/e 18 March 2017) – up £55m over the previous 12 months and a £100m increase since 2015.

The figures also found a surge in contouring products where both value and volume sales increased dramatically, attributed to the popularity of selfies from social media stars such as Kim Kardashian and Kyle Jenner, plus an increase in YouTube tutorials. Value sales of bronzers rose to £43m, up from £23m the previous year. Concealers also saw a boost, with sales of £52m, up from £42m.

Eyebrow grooming and the trend for thicker, darker eyebrows – largely driven by models such as Cara Delevigne – has seen eyebrow products become a multi-million pound market, now worth £42 m in value sales, up £10m over the previous year. More than 9m units of eyebrow products were sold in just 12 months (52 w/e 18 March 2017).

“Consumers are heavily influenced by social media and by their peers, and this has led them to be more experimental in their choices and prepared to try new things with cosmetics,” said Chloe Humphreys-Page, Retail Insight Director at IRI. “The result is that there is a lot more new product development among brands in this space, for both female and increasingly male cosmetics, leading to a wider and often more interesting choice of items within stores and online.

“The impact of the so-called ‘selfie generation’ – where people are spending disproportionately long periods of time studying their faces and making sure they are camera-ready – is not just driving sales for certain cosmetics, but also boosting demand for ancillary products, like eyebrow kits, sponges, pencils and brushes.”

IRI is predicting the trend for thicker eyebrows to continue in 2017, along with the addition of bleached brows, glittering other techniques to enhance the eyebrow. However, the trend for contouring is out.

“The kinds of contouring we see on reality TV now has a more subtle look, ‘non-touring’ as it’s called – a technique that uses minimal products to give more of a no-make-up look to the face,” added Page. “The overall effect is one of a natural dewy appearance, using primers and liquid or powder highlighters and illuminators, and we expect this is where brands will be investing new product development budgets.”


First ever UN fashion resolution to be drafted

The next generation of global fashion leaders are set to draft a resolution to the United Nations on fashion, making it the first negotiation of its kind.

Gathering for the Youth Fashion Summit prior to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, young talent from around the world are set to discuss how the industry needs to tackle rising concerns of fashion manufacture and consumption.

Challenging social issues, the summit hopes to inspire corporate action through the UN, the first ever resolution concerning fashion.

The resolution will be negotiated with industry leaders such as H&M and Swarovski, and NGOs such as Greenpeace on 10 May 2017 before being presented on stage at Copenhagen Fashion Summit on 11 May. Later this year, the resolution will be presented to the UN in New York.

Also fighting for a sustainable fashion industry are renowned fashion industry names like Susie Lau (also known as Susie Bubble), who is the Youth Fashion Summit ambassador, and Simon Collins, the former dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design, who will give inspirational talks at the Youth Fashion Summit.

“This year we are truly proud to support the Youth Fashion Summit,” said Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board. “To empower the voice of future generations, who will continue to lead this fight for a sustainable fashion industry in the years to come.”

Augmented and virtual reality market to reach over £45 billion by 2022

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) markets are expected to surge over the next five years, reaching a worth of over £45 billion worldwide.

As the ability to develop 3D immersive worlds becomes more popular and easy to create, Allied Market Research has released a report forecasting where the industry will go in the future.

Increased gaming opportunities as well as business adaptation has been key to public understanding of VR and the lesser known AR, which allows for contextual interaction integrated into the real world.

AR is particularly relevant due to its fast adoption by the mobile market, with a notable example being the massively popular Pokemon Go app, which reached huge numbers over the summer of 2016.

Because of the increased development speeds, mobile markets are being touted as the space to watch, as it is expected to grow far beyond other markets.

Aside from video games, practical uses for customer experiences and training exercises are becoming more common, and Allied Market Research predicts it will pave the way for many more applications in the next decade.

“Augmented and virtual reality offers a cost-effective and efficient solution in training and skill development as it replicates the real scenarios by using augmented and virtual reality enabled solutions,” said Sumeet Pal, research analyst at Allied Market Research. “augmented and virtual reality solutions create a virtual environment similar to the real world, where a trainee can understand and tackle challenges with strategic mapping.

“In healthcare, training students or nurses or other medical professionals on live humans is unethical and could be harmful; thus, augmented and virtual reality-based solutions provide valid tools to train medical professionals without compromising and harming one’s life.”

GUEST BLOG: Armin Hierstetter: The cost of voice in content marketing

Any marketer worth their weight will obsess about a lot of things. I’d bet you a beer that metrics and content are on their worry list. I run a voice over market place called bodalgo and I’m here to talk content, not the need for it but the cost of it and in particular voice content.

At this point you are think – voice content as in tone of voice right? Wrong. By voice content I am talking about voice overs, explainer videos, ebooks, presentations. With content creation there is always a challenge to produce what is relevant and engaging to your target audience, and there is always a cost associated with it. In terms of time and money spent. There is of course a link between both of these costs and that’s quality.

Rush to create content and your target market will now it and will respond accordingly, skimp on producing it and they will too! So how can you be smart? Let’s make a couple of assumptions; your business needs a 90 second explainer video to support the launch of a new service. You can use the video on your site, embed it in your newsletters, use it at trade shows, share is across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and ensure it has a call to action at the end of it so you can track the responses to it. That’s the distribution plans dealt with let’s look at the production costs.

Apart from the time to create a story board and script you have production and filming and if you are planning to produce multiple language versions (never assume your target market all speak English) you are going to need a voice to read the words you have crafted in several languages.

If you are small business your budgets are unlikely to be large so you are keeping a keen eye out for costs, but there is an old adage you might well be aware of ‘pay peanuts and you get monkeys’ and with shoddy content  you get shoddy results unless you are after the unprofessional look.

So if you look at the steps outlined above you have a choice spend smartly or risk creating cheap content. Ideas are priceless and writing the right words can be done if you are wordsmith and know where to go, when it comes to video production you also have the advantage of seeing what people have produced and choosing what you want.

As for voices well that’s where things can get really interesting. There are of course a plethora of low cost sites out there offering voices on the cheap but yup you guessed it, you get what you pay for. If you use a voice casting agency there are some hidden extras you have to know about. Firstly what are you getting for your money? A voice over? A fully produced sound file to match the video? A bill for a recording studio? I raise all of this for the simple reason that quality costs but so does ignorance. Knowledge is power and asking the right questions gives you the right answers and the ability to make the right choices.

A site like bodalgo screens voice over talent so only quality talent can pitch for your work and nowadays  a lot of voice over artists have their own sound booths so paying for the cost of a recording studio is not something you should be worrying about or having to pay for. Technology like webRTC also means you can speak to the voice artist while recordings are being made so you get the voice, intonation and accent you want immediately; as after all time is money.

Taking all of the above into account the next time voice features in you content marketing requirements you should now have all you need to ask the right questions, get the right voices at the right price and of course create something that sounds great to you and your customers. No worries.