Why marketing to generation Z isn’t as easy as you think

Most of us might struggle to remember a time before smartphones and tablets controlled everything from our fitness routines and navigation systems, to our budgets and day-to-day communication…but we can still remember. Generation Z, on the other hand, won’t. Generation Z, the age cohort directly following Millennials who were born after 1992, is the first wave of true digital natives. They’re growing up with iPads at the dinner table and Facebook profiles before they are even born. As digital marketers, this may seem like a golden opportunity to attract potential customers before they are even consumers; but getting this generation’s attention might be a lot more difficult than you think. Here’s why.

While the “always on” mindset has made it easier to communicate, learn, and share information, it has also had some unintended effects. The more information we have, the more our minds need to filter out. Many studies have shown that the constant barrage of information, and subsequent choices that go with it, reduce our collective happiness. In Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book on decision making, Blink, he suggests that unlimited options lead us to doubt decisions we’ve made by trading the gut feeling or rationale we originally used for a barrage of “what if’s” and “might have been’s.” Other studies show similar results when patients are faced with too many medical treatment options when investors are faced with too many stock options, when consumers are faced with too many selections at the grocery store, and when eligible suitors are faced with too many dating prospects online. Quite literally, digital natives are spoiled by choice.

Our brains seek to correct this cognitive dissonance by filtering out information faster. Attention spans have become shorter and decision-making has become truncated by the constant mental jump between clicking, reading, watching, sharing, and acting on the information in front of us. As Pulitzer Prize runner-up, Nicholas Carr puts it, “the redirection of our mental resources, from reading words to making judgments, may be imperceptible – our brains are quick – but it’s been shown to impede comprehension and retention, particularly when repeated.” Members of Generation Z likely do not even need to think about the filtering process as they switch between devices or channels, and flawlessly overlook or absorb certain information — but it is changing how they learn and make decisions.

By filtering out larger quantities of information faster, this generation is losing a degree of depth when engaging online. Content that wins this generation’s attention is pithy, memorable, and short … not nuanced, detailed, and thorough. While this isn’t inherently “good” or “bad,” it does present a unique challenge for digital marketers. Video clips, snack-sized content, and catchy taglines that are easy to remember and share are replacing the white pages, case studies, and product catalogs that older generations know and love.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that one of the best ways to reach Generation Z is through YouTube. According to a recent AdWeek study, more than 95% of Gen Z said they can’t live without YouTube. Of those, nearly 80% said they have a favorable attitude toward celebrity endorsements. In other words, they are looking for someone to tell them which products or experiences to spend their time and money on. In a world with nearly unlimited research potential, sometimes it’s nice to just let someone tell you what the right answer is. And YouTube does that in a very compelling, digestible, and entertaining way. In a similar study by Business Insider, Generation Z ranked YouTube reviews, product demos, and unboxing videos as some of their favorite forms of content, suggesting this insight is especially relevant within the consumer space.

YouTube is one of the most powerful tools for digital marketers when trying to break through the information clutter. To guide your YourTube content strategy, we recommend asking whether your videos pass the “M.I.S.S.” test. Are they: Memorable? Informative? Short? And shareable? These four principles will help craft content that Generation Z will engage with and enjoy. That isn’t to say that your video content shouldn’t also be accurate and insightful. While Gen Z’s attention span may be shorter than previous generations, that doesn’t imply that they don’t have the intellectual breadth or depth to synthesize complex ideas. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Because Gen Z has grown up with floods of information, they are more adept at scanning for accuracy than previous generations. Fluffy jargon and obtuse information won’t get past these consumers. Use this knowledge as a challenge to distill the most critical information about your products and brand in a transparent, crisp vision of what your organization is all about.

If you are unsure how to boil down your brand value proposition to the basics, or create videos that will delight and inspire potential customers, we’re here to help. Contact us to learn more about how to leverage YouTube to your advantage and attract your next generation of brand enthusiasts. It’s easier than you think but more important than you ever could have imagined.

Programmatic Advertising 101: Why nerdy trends are profitable

What is Programmatic Advertising (PA):
Programmatic advertising tools use complex analysis, forecasting, and regression algorithms to crunch millions of data points to find trends within certain customer groups. Once trends or behavioral patterns have been identified, the tool serves and optimizes content to your ideal audience in real time. As new data continues to be logged, your programmatic advertising spend will adjust accordingly so your advertising dollars are always being spent in the most efficient and effective way possible. Demand software using programmatic advertising input can bid on and serve everything from display advertisements, to social media ads, to videos, and retargeting campaigns. We’ll give that an A+ for mathematics application.

So, What’s in This for My Customers?:

Because PA platforms can track customer behavior, demographics, cross-channel activities, interests, and trends, you are only serving content that is of real interest to your ideal customer base. Programmatic advertising can also optimize content placement based on day, time, geography, and seasonality so your campaigns will reach your audience when they want or need it. That’s right, we said your ads could be both specific and timely. Trust us – your customers will thank you later when they are clicking on your content rather than closing it out.  

And, What’s in This for Me?:

It might go without saying but: the harder your ads work for you — i.e. the more efficient and relevant they are to your customers — the more likely it is they will yield sales. A strong PA program also frees up your team to focus on other initiatives, such as generating killer content or building other areas of your cross-channel marketing strategy. Instead of wasting time haggling over bulk ad buys, trying to analyze your display placement mix, or negotiating with media vendors, PA software does this for you.

Getting Started:

Programmatic advertising isn’t just for “big corporations.” If the IDC’s adoption rate tells you anything, it’s that PA is a universal tool that can benefit any industry, any type of business, and any size operation. With that said, setting up a program that’s tailored to your needs can feel a little daunting if you don’t have an established analytics team. In fact, unless you already have an in-house team who has worked with programmatic advertising in the past, the quickest path to success is partnering with an agency who can get you started. Setting up your PA parameters is the hard part — the software will take care of the rest. To make this easy, your agency will help you define a budget and cross check your content to ensure your first ad bids, and subsequent optimization efforts, are successful and ready to scale for success. When you’re just starting, you will set clear, measurable goals and work with your agency to understand the expected return on investment of a certain bid so you know exactly what you’re getting. Even though PA alleviates a lot of planning pain for your team, it’s important to track and optimize everything … including your optimization efforts. We’re here to help.

Learn more about all the data tools our team recommends and how you can harness the wealth of information customers are freely and happily giving to make content more interesting and engaging than ever before. On our website you can explore our services, read case studies, and get a preliminary evaluation about how programmatic advertising could transform your digital presence today.  

What is OpenAP and how it can help you reach your target market

For several years, we’ve been reticent to encourage clients to invest big bucks in television ads because the audience simply isn’t narrow enough to make the return on investment — which is often quite low after you factor in production overhead and distribution costs — worthwhile. While television was once a premium medium for advertisers thanks to high levels of viewer engagement, we have seen a sharp decline in effectiveness because viewers can easily tune out commercials when content isn’t relevant to them by turning their attention to their mobile phones, tablets, or laptops. For the digital marketer, this was an opportunity to prove why relevant and timely content is so important … and cash in along the way. For media distributors, it was nearly a death sentence.
The good news is that many major television companies have been aware of this issue and actively seeking ways to revitalize one of the most hallowed marketing channels in history. This spring, Viacom, Fox Networks Group, and Time Warner Cable finally came up with a viable solution. Instead of banking on the few big-ticket commercial opportunities to keep their coffers afloat (think: multi-million dollar placements during the Super Bowl), they have banned together to help small- and medium-sized businesses affordably reach their target audience.

Together, they launched, “OpenAP” – a new data platform that aggregates information from a variety of providers so advertisers can securely and collaboratively place ads within desirable demographics. Think: first-time home buyers, urban couples, pet owners, and more. Executive Vice President of Data Strategy for Viacom, Bryson Gordon explained the vision to Media Village in a recent interview: “It’s about the secure sharing of those consistent audience segments across publishers.  The advertiser or the agency will be able decide who can see the segment and how it gets shared with the publisher before activating it across their inventory.  It also gives the individual networks the independence to use their own proprietary datasets in conjunction with industry accepted measurement services, such as Nielsen and comScore.”

His vision is important for two main reasons.

First and foremost, it makes television advertising relevant again. For example, CNN historically runs advertisements focused on Baby Boomers because this generation comprises the majority of their viewership. Young professionals watching the news while getting ready for work yawn through advertisements for retirement planning, bladder control medication, and 55+ residential communities. The network’s blanket approach to advertising makes it easy for one of the most valuable, growing sources of disposable income in the market to simply tune out. OpenAP makes it possible to tailor these ads so Baby Boomers still enjoy relevant content, without alienating new or emerging demographics. Targeted content for targeted segments finally makes television advertising relevant for the individual, not the majority.

Second, because networks can merge their own data with shared data and link to other measurement tools, television ads will be measurable in a new and important way. Because advertisers previously had to rely on the “spray and pray” model when exposing content on television, it was hard to quantify how effective an advertisement really was because only a fraction of viewers might actually represent qualified leads. By limiting exposure and tracking performance, planning and measurement will naturally improve.

This is one of the first exciting breakthroughs the television ad space has seen in years, and it perfectly complements our belief that the future of customer-centric marketing hinges on a robust and choiceful cross-channel marketing approach. We’re excited to see TV getting back in the game and are here to help you craft your first segmented, trackable television ad. Get in touch with our media and strategy teams to learn more!

Why people live to eat (and are getting rewarded for it)

Forget a 15% tip … how about a 35% increase in restaurant guest visits? According to Loyalogy, top loyalty cards and program provider, that’s the expected uplift many restaurants enjoy when they introduce loyalty programs to their marketing mix. Discounts, point systems, loyalty cards, keychains, apps, social media offers, and memberships are just a few of the many ways restaurant marketing programs can leverage reward systems to drive business and boost foot traffic. To get you started, here are a few simple guidelines.

Simply ask:

After guests complete their meal, present them with a quick survey asking how their experience was and what types of rewards would motivate them to return on a regular basis. Keep it simple and straightforward so your guests are not annoyed with the survey experience. If you have difficulty getting customers to answer your survey, try incentivizing them with a discount or free dessert. You can guess at what motivates your customers, but it is faster, easier, and more accurate to simply ask. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive some operational insight that will help you improve your quality of service and overall restaurant experience.

Frequency rewards:

Frequency rewards, such as loyalty cards, are one of the most common ways to encourage guests to come back. Everyone from major hotels such as Starwood, to dining sites such as OpenTable – and, of course, restaurants – are using loyalty programs to keep guests coming back. The benefit of frequency rewards is that you are driving more visits that will offset any type of reward you choose to give. A simple break-even analysis will help you understand how many visits you need to accrue before a reward has paid for itself and brought you greater than expected revenue.

Lead with value:

Another option is to lead with value. Membership to restaurants and social clubs, such as the SoHo House brand, incentivizes visitors to come back by providing exclusive access to special menu items, spaces, or experiences. Whether members pay a fee to join or must meet a threshold of purchases to remain connected, your business will benefit. The key is understanding what extra value you can provide to members that they cannot get anywhere else. Cooking classes with a celebrity chef, members’ wine tasting events, or on-site performances are a few of the ways you might augment your traditional dining experience. Ideally, any exclusive experiences you offer would not incur additional or exorbitant fees to the day-to-day operations of the business, so consider what relationships or in-kind exchanges you can leverage to keep costs low.

Partner with existing programs:

Lastly, one of the easiest ways to build your rewards program is to partner with an organization that already has a membership or loyalty base. A raw juice bar may benefit from partnering with a nearby gym, for example. Consider what local partners naturally align with your restaurant and evaluate what they are doing to drive visits. By giving another organization access to your customer base, you can cross-market for each other and generate business that will benefit both brands. In addition to encouraging repeat visits, partnerships also give your brand exposure to customers that may not have discovered you otherwise.

If you still aren’t sure where to start, or need help kicking off your rewards program, we’re here to help. Click here to learn more about how businesses like yours have partnered with BIGEYE to create loyalty programs that work. We strive to build brands by transforming their marketing strategies – check out our website to learn more about our services and contact information.

Why persona marketing is the key for your tourist destination

Whether guests visit your destination to stay in rustic, canvas yurts under the stars, or pay premium prices to be wined and dined by celebrity chefs and sommeliers — everyone is looking for something that fits their tastes, needs, and lifestyle. Persona marketing helps tourism and hospitality brands define their target audiences and set themselves apart from the competition by honing in on who really wants to visit their destinations. You don’t need to please everyone … you just have to please a select few.

Persona marketing unlocks destination discovery: 

There isn’t a “one size fits all” vacation model. There isn’t even an average standard for what vacations should look like. According to TripBarometer, only 34% of travelers in the United States fall into what is commonly defined as a “traditional,” or mainstream, travel category. The remaining 66% lean toward specialized travel subsets such as adventure or experiential travelers, solo, luxury, or service-oriented vacationers. As a marketer, you simply can’t make broad assumptions about who your target audience may be. You need to get narrow on who is most likely to visit your tourist destination, how they prefer to plan vacations, who they travel with, how they spend, when they go, and what they like. Personas are a great, actionable way to achieve this.

Persona marketing helps brands break away from dangerous generalizations and gain clarity about the demographics of the people most likely to visit their destination. The first thing people often decide when booking a vacation experience is where they want to travel. For this reason, persona marketing can be an especially effective means to promote your destination during this discovery period. For example, Costa Rica has become famous as a prime spot for eco-travelers and nature enthusiasts thanks to the country’s many treehouse resorts, surfing lodges, yoga retreats, zip-line courses, and sustainable tourism efforts. Tourist destinations in Costa Rica can leverage their position within this ecosystem by appealing to the specific personas who find these elements attractive. Knowing – and speaking directly to – the marketing persona that fits this profile allows brands to tailor their efforts to websites, journals, and blogs where viable prospects are already enjoying content. This reduces friction in the discovery process and reduces the amount of effort and time needed to secure a sale.

Tailored merchandising maximizes vacations and revenue:

Once you’ve attracted the attention of a potential persona and have a steady stream of visitors heading to your tourist destination, you can still use persona marketing to tailor the vacation experience on a deeper level. Consider a cruise ship. Cruisers are, in and of themselves, a certain type of travel persona: often, families with disposable annual income of $150K or more who are educated and want to see the world, but don’t want the hassle of planning the nuances of the trip themselves. Yet, within this persona, there are travelers who will naturally fall into a variety of sub-types: those who want to spend every day at the spa, those who want a steady-stream of kid-friendly activities, romantic couples, adventure seekers, water lovers, foodies, and bar flies. Knowing the personas that are attracted to your tourist destination and the nuances of the sub-types within those personas allows you to tailor your merchandising efforts for effectively so you can send spa discounts, dining recommendations, entertainment promotions, and event reminders to the right people at the right times.

Using persona marketing helps you make everyone’s vacation experience feel highly specialized and personal, which augments the tourist experience … and, of course, increases the chances that guests will spend (more) money at your site. In the United States, the majority of travelers cite “treating themselves” as a top priority when traveling, according to the Trekksoft travel blog. They look to sightseeing (53%), special dining (41%), accommodation (41%), activities (35%), and shopping (24%) respectively as the top areas to splurge. Knowing which of these items your guests are most interested in allows you to meet their needs and your bottom line.

Whether you already have a persona marketing strategy, or still need to define who your ideal target audience is, we are here to help. Contact us to learn more about the types of personas that fit your tourist destination. We can work with you to define the market and customer segmentation research needed to build and understand your personas, create a custom marketing plan around their needs, and track the results of how persona marketing can transform your tourist destination.

Hello from the other side: What is social listening?

Social listening is one of those magical, marketing buzzwords that seems to hold the key to customer information, new sales, and social engagement. But what is it? Whether you’re a new digital marketer or a seasoned business owner, understanding social listening (and knowing how to use it) can be a powerful tool in your toolbox. We know that wading through the myriad of marketing blogs and platforms can be daunting, so we’ve stripped down the jargon and confusion to give you the real deal on social listening.

What is social listening?

Social listening is a common marketing practice that involves auditing and collecting information your customers are saying about your brand online. This may include capturing comments about your brand on social media, cataloging reviews, combing through news articles, or monitoring blog posts. Often times, companies will score each comment based on whether it’s positive or negative, and whether it’s coming from an influential source or an insignificant channel. Social listening can give business owners insight into the types of brand associations their customers are organically building by considering who is speaking most frequently (i.e., mommy blogs vs. trade journals) and what their conversations are about.

What do you use social listening for?

Knowing whether your customers and prospective customers have a positive or negative opinion about your products, and what other products they’re comparing them to, can give you a clear picture into whether you’re effectively communicating your unique value proposition. Understanding who your customers are talking to and where they are discussing your products can also help you target a better, more valuable audience and serve them information and content where they are already surfing the web. This information allows you to address customer service issues, generate leads, and encourage viral sharing depending on how you respond to your findings. Social listening gives you an inside look into your customers’ mindset and helps you interact when them in a more authentic way.

Start listening in now

Although there are many tools that can help you conduct your own social listening, such as Hootsuite, the best, most reliable option is to partner with a social marketing agency. Agencies often have access to multiple listening tools, so you’ll get a broader, more holistic picture of the conversations taking place. Every good social marketing agency also has a team of experts monitoring and interpreting data as it comes in, so you can quickly and appropriately respond to positive or negative turns in the conversation. They can make recommendations on how to best respond, and tailor your future marketing campaigns to your customers’ needs.

Buzzwords aside, social listening is truly and incredible way to understand your customers’ psyche and learn how to interact with them. The process is easier than it seems, but immeasurably powerful when put to good use. They say that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason; and this maxim is especially true on the internet as you combat the endless stream of clutter and noise that might otherwise distract your customers…so contact our team of social strategists today to get listening and start learning!