With digital and social media platforms continuing to be inundated with content, 2017 continues to present an ever-increasing challenge for Caribbean brands trying to effectively reach, engage and create traction with their target audiences.
Caribbean brands, who have been somewhat slower to integrate online tools into their marketing arsenal, can no longer ignore the myriad of options available and must proactively seek to identify the right tools to in order to achieve their marketing goals.
Here are 5 trends to pay attention to, while propelling your digital marketing efforts in 2017.
1. Native Advertising
Native advertising is defined as paid media that takes the form and function of the platform on which it appears. Even though this type of advertising has existed since the 1900s, it has recently become popular because of the monetization of social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Business Insider forecasts an 18% increase in native display ad revenue in the US, by 2021, up from 56% in 2016, mostly due to the dominance of social networks.
Publishing companies such as the Telegraph, Fortune, Buzzfeed and Forbes have also integrated native advertising into both their mobile and desktop feeds through sponsored content. I’ve highlighted a couple of examples below:
The promotion of the Batman Vs Superman movie included sponsored content on Fortune.com by Warner Brothers.
Here Acuvue uses Buzzfeed to promote their contact lenses.
Through native advertising, brands increase distribution and reach by leveraging the publishers’ network. In addition, the content which is presented in the style and voice of the publisher, not the brand, tends to resonate with the audience who are more willing to engage with the native ads and therefore result in higher click-through rates.
It has also been found that consumers experience a much higher level of trust for brands who sponsor high-quality native content and it has been stated that native outperforms nearly every type of interruptive advertising in brand recall and brand trust when done well.
As a Caribbean brand with international appeal, consider how your story should be crafted in order to appeal to your target audience and then identify publishing companies which can provide that voice as well as reach readers in your geographic and demographic markets.
2. Influencer Marketing
Social networks allow users not only to share customer experiences but also seek advice from peers which can influence their decision making. It goes without saying that a user will trust a peer more than a corporate brand and therefore influencers provide an avenue to help brands gain trust and credibility. Influencer marketing provides brands with access to the massive network of fans that an online personality has cultivated as well as that trusted relationship.
Fundamental keys to a successful partnership are aligning the brand with an influencer who has similar values, speaks to similar topics and embracing an organic content experience which doesn’t disrupt the user experience.
The most important point is to ensure that the content retains the look, feel and tone of the influencer. Recently we have seen campaigns in the Caribbean where influencers who are no way aligned with relevant topics are being used in campaigns. If you’re a car dealership then ideally you should target an influencer who is a car enthusiast, a tourism brand will be suited to a traveler/lifestyle influencer, while an influencer who speaks on topics of personal finance or related topics will be good fit for a Finance company. This ensures your campaign is reaching your target audience and improves conversion rates.
In addition, ensure that influencer maintains their online persona and is not made to take on that of the brand (if it is different) as this can cause a disconnect with the influencer’s audience.
Take a look at the below video from Lagavulin featuring Nick Offerman, aka Ron Swanson, the whiskey-loving Parks and Rec character.
3. Live Video
Periscope reported that, in 2016, users watched 110 years of live video per day and according to survey data from Wyzol 43% of marketers intend to use interactive video in 2017. Live video content is on the rise and along with the popular platforms such as Periscope and Facebook, brands are also using Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Live video enables brands to offer real-time unfiltered content. Brands need to determine what is of interest to the viewer (educational and entertaining, not a sales message) and the best format to propagate that information. They can use this medium to host Q&A sessions, live events that customers are unable to attend and product demonstrations and should focus on the Live video platforms where their target audience is most active.
The effective use of live video requires brands who are ready to step out of their ‘comfort zones’ and are able to think quickly while interacting with consumers.
4. Messaging Apps
It’s estimated that over 2.5 billion people have installed at least one messaging app and the Whatsapp service is used for an average of 200 minutes per week. Increasingly, more consumers are contacting brands via a messaging app instead of making a phone call and Facebook has facilitated this communication by introducing post types which allow a user to click on a “call-to-action” button, in the newsfeed, and immediately start a chat with a brand.
Hyatt is one brand who is using Facebook Messenger, around the clock, to address their guests’ customer services needs.
Customer service provided by messaging apps once planned and staffed appropriately presents a faster and better customer experience than awaiting email responses and long call centre queue times. Furthermore, this is the preferred method of communication by millennials who favour close, transparent consumer relationships.
As messaging is seen as a more private/personal experience Caribbean brands have to be cognizant when attempting to initiate conversations with consumers and ensure that members opt-in to their WhatsApp groups, telephone numbers should never be collected and used without the owner’s permission. During planning, consider what your brand will offer users to encourage opt-in and how you will personalise the user experience.
5. Augmented Reality
With Facebook offering developers to build augmented reality camera effects and Apple deploying its engineers to work on augmented reality for the iPhone, 2017 may be the year augmented reality goes mainstream. It is no longer simply/only for gamers. Simply put augmented reality superimposes graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements over a real-world environment in real time. It seems that this will be the future of social interaction. Think about how your company can create effects that resonate with your customers.
It is evident that forward thinking Caribbean brands can integrate the most appropriate of these emerging social tools into their digital and social media practices to improve their online presence.
Have you added any of the above tools to your marketing plans for 2017? What have been the results thus far?