Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12 Lessons from Free Marketing Events

mobile marketing trends

I am hungry for knowledge. If that knowledge comes without a price, even better!

I attend as many free networking events, classes, or workshops as I can, if I think it will help me become a better marketer. I'd love to share some bits of wisdom I learned at recent events.

The first 6 lessons are from the 12 Essentials on the Future of Mobile Marketing event, organized by the team behind Sleek Marketing University and hosted by Impact Hub Boston on December 2, 2014. The speaker was Joseph Carrabis, neuroscientist-turned-marketer and founder of NextStage. His claim to fame is harnessing the brain's natural tendencies to guide customers along the marketing funnel.

1. Consumers connect to brands faster on mobile.

This has something to do with the fact that you're physically holding the device. Deep inside our lizard brains, we trust what we can touch. Therefore, by default we trust the messages we receive on our mobile devices.

2. We treat our mobile phones like weapons

A sociological study compared our relationship with our mobile devices to how we treated swords in the Middle Ages. Back then it was customary to carry a weapon on your person at all times, often with your hand resting on it idly. You'd feel naked without it. You'd pull it out when feeling defensive or threatened. There's a sentimental attachment to the item, it's a symbol of status, the comparisons go on and on.

3. To maximize conversion, order designs like so: maybe yes no

This is a fun little mind trick. Designers can capitalize on ternary logic to guide outcomes: offer 3 choices with the first option a 'maybe' commitment, the last one a 'no,' and the middle as the intended CTA. The brain defaults to the middle ground whenever possible. And since the brain can't conceive of a negative without first understanding the positive, you should order the options in 'maybe-yes-no.' 

4. Humans can only be happy or sad. There is no intermediate. 

At least in terms of your brand impression. Surveys reveal stark evidence that when someone interacts with your brand on their mobile device, it's either a positive or negative experience, but almost never neutral.

5. Mobile menu interfaces must be iconographic

A picture is worth 1000 words, so you'd best use images to get your point across on a small screen!

6. Branded apps with a social factor perform better than mobile sites

If your product is both digital and social, this stat should convince your CTO to invest in mobile app development.

Here are 6 more lessons from the 20 Million Visitors: Content Distribution Secrets from The Daily Beast event, hosted by Boston Content on December,  2014. The speaker here was Managing Director of The Daily Beast, Mike Dyer.

7. People read longer content on mobile devices (rather than on desktops).

Maybe people are catching up on their blogs and news stories while commuting?

8. Evergreen content is always more valuable than topical content

Makes sense: people search for evergreen topics for year-round, whereas seasonal topics get a bump once a year and then a long lull. Topical content thrives only if it goes viral.

9. It's better to produce fewer, better pieces of content than to pump stuff out constantly

This is such a relief to hear from an expert! Please, free us from the rat race of constant tweeting!

10. Headlines should be tailored for their medium

Think about it: it would be weird to see a headline on Facebook that abbreviates 'you' as 'u', but you'd be foolish NOT to do that on Twitter if you need to space.

11. One way to distinguish content from advertising: content solves the user's problem first, and the brand's problem second

This hammers home the fact that content is great at generating leads and inbound traffic because people are seeking a solution for themselves. Advertising is responsible for seeking out customers in an outbound fashion. Different tactics demand different priorities.

12. Don't chase social media engagement unless it drives web traffic. 

I've wondered if I should be counting and tracking metrics like number of Twitter follows, repins, or Facebook comments. At the end of the day none of that matters if it's not generating site traffic.

There you have it! If you've got any tips to add, please share in the comments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Can You Ever Really Trust a Brand?

Uber scandal

The tech world is reeling from the Uber scandal and new, damning revelations about Amazon

These scandals have me in a bit of an existential crisis as a marketer. A marketer's job is to communicate and build trust in a brand in order to attract paying customers. We are brand builders and brand ambassadors.

But what is a brand, really? 

Is a brand more like a company or like a person?

Is it a product or is it a feeling? 

Does brand loyalty mean you're loyal to the people running the company, or loyal to the product or service they provide?

Let's look at Amazon, for example.

As a consumer, I love Amazon. I buy from Amazon on a regular basis, I have the Amazon rewards VISA card, and my parents sell books on Amazon as a side business. 

As a business professional, I admire Amazon. It defined e-commerce as we know it, helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses bypass retail to sell direct to consumer, and pioneered innovations in recommendation algorithms.

But as a decent human being, I don't know how to feel about Amazon anymore. 

If I think of a brand as a person, I'm going to project human emotions onto the actions of the company or its leaders; as a result, I'll react to bad behavior as if I were betrayed.

But if I think of a brand as the-faceless-entity-that-delivers-product-X, and I am very pleased with product X, I'm not going to change my buying habits.

Contrary to Citizens United, I believe that corporations are NOT people, so I shouldn't anthropomorphize my relationship with companies. So by that logic, I should continue riding in Ubers and ordering from Amazon.

Then what's that icky feeling inside?

I'm really curious how people feel about this. What breaks your brand loyalty? Feel free to comment below.