Visual storytelling works — from brands to babies. It has always worked for almost any kind of audience since ages but in this age of digital excess, it’s working like never before. Having spent good number of years in photography and digital industry, I can safely say that from communicating to comprehending, visuals have now become the prime language for many.
My personal litmus test for the power of visual storytelling? My 5 year old :-). 3 scenarios that are regular in my household-
I narrate a story to him;
I narrate a story to him and show him the pictures;
I narrate a story to him, show him the pictures and then let him play with his book asking to observe the pictures for few seconds;
Without fail, connect as well as recall of the stories are highest in the third scenario.
Just because it’s easy, let’s do it and just because it’s cheap, let’s plaster all over the media. We have seen this happening earlier with other digital channels and we can see this happening now with Instagram too. It’s quick to start and pause, so why to spend time in planning or thinking? When I see these poorly shot or awfully cropped pictures in a sponsored post, I cringe. When I see the messages so long that you need to zoom or a sponsored posts that only speak of X% discounts, I wonder why? I understand the general impulse of — “Instagram is popular, let’s do a campaign there”, but considering it’s a sponsored post and that too with such high frequency, I am assuming there is money being spent with some business objectives in mind. Then, why not spend some time in understanding the platform and engaging with your audience accordingly?Read More
Love me, or hate me, but you can not ignore me — Sincerely Yours, Facebook!
Even if certain set of users won’t agree to this statement but considering Facebook & Instagram are still dominating the charts of most downloaded and most used apps, it would be better to accept that Facebook is one of those beasts which marketers can’t ignore if they’re going for a paid digital campaign especially for a consumer product category.
I know there are enough pro and anti Facebook advertising arguments all over the internet but this post is not about whether to go for Facebook advertising or not, it’s more about when you are doing it, do it right. No point in spending money without fixing the basics first.
It’s 2017 & why I am still talking of basics of Facebook advertising? I mean, even a school kid knows how to advertise on Facebook? What’s the big deal about it when it’s just so simple and easy to set up a Facebook campaign? Well, that’s the exact problem — it’s just so easy! And almost everyone is setting it up without much effort or thought put behind understanding the platform or learning the best practices.
And when something is very easy, it’s also easier to mess it up. Isn’t it?
In last 15 days I have met four startups who are spending big money on Facebook advertising and three of them have digital agencies managing their accounts. While we discuss CPA and efficacy of the medium, there is this general sigh that CPA is not coming down and the effectiveness of their campaign is decreasing with time. I got a chance to analyze their campaigns and surprisingly, I found the problems common across — ignoring the basics and one-size-fit-all campaigns.
And all it takes is 3 simple steps to fix the same.
So startup A, with whom I was interacting recently, is a food company with a potential target audience that could range in between any age group, i.e., teenagers to even 50+year old ones. Their agency was running a digital campaign for age bracket 18–45 years with same messaging and same creatives. Their logic — after all it’s a food category and anyone could potentially be a customer for this category. True, absolutely true. But what happened to the basics of marketing known as segmentation and customizing the campaigns according to each segment? The more granular we go with customization, the more effective the outputs are in digital medium. For e.g., in this case it took us a day’s exercise to go through each product variant and try to figure out the star appeal of each variant. The moment we were ready with product feature matrix, it was getting clearer to the founders that perhaps each variant needs to be targeted to a different segment, customized with a different messaging. And that’s what we did — instead of one master campaign showing different products in different units of carousel, we configured multiple campaigns with messages and visuals tailored to different audience type. Going granular and customization upto the last level was some task for sure but the results were obvious and in a week’s time the acquisition numbers were moving northward within the same budget.
Customization takes time and effort but it’s worth it. Just go for it. Go granular, go microscopic.
Are you targeting your ads to those who have liked your page as well? Of course, the logical brain tells you why do you need to especially when you have limited money? The ones who have liked your page are already getting to see your updates, so why not use the money to target new audience and acquire new customers? Start up A, B, C & D — all four had done the same. And earlier, even I used to do the same. But then after experiencing the diminishing organic reach of Facebook posts that perhaps is not even in the range of 2 to 5% these days, I had changed my targeting strategy. And I was surprised with the improvement in the conversion rate.
So, next time when you are trying to sell any new product or targeting your users for repurchase, connect with your existing base first, you’ll be surprised with your acquisition percentage and more importantly, your CPA. The rationale behind this is pretty simple — the ones who have liked your page are somewhat interested in you, the chances of them buying your product are much higher than the new ones.
When you have limited money, it’s all the more important that you prioritize it on targeting the interested ones first. Connect with your existing fan base, it works.
Startup D had spent some decent money in getting their products shot beautifully. The campaigns were doing well initially but with time, the CTR had reduced. On asking, when was the last time the images were changed, the answer was almost three months back. To add to that, all the good pictures were used in first burst itself. But then why do they need to plan for second or third bursts when the first one was doing so good? Well, simply because users get bored of seeing the same thing again and again. To add to that, this phone era has reduced our attention span to 8 seconds which is perhaps lesser than that of many living creatures. And the only method to grab attention these days is through striking visuals. Visuals attract attention and new images give a fresh perspective to your ads. Be it digital or any form of advertising, a good visual evokes emotions and enhances the consumer connect. This has been tried and tested since ages in all forms of advertising but is especially true in this digital era where we literally breathe and live our virtual life through images.
Change your ads frequently, especially the images. Even if you are advertising the same product or service, just change the visuals and see the impact on your CTR. In one of my last campaigns, it moved up by 3x.
Customize, Connect & Change — that’s it. Focus on these and your basics will be in place. And if basics are in place, we all know rest can be managed, enhanced and improved 🙂
Of late I have been interviewing people for content writer positions in my current organization. I had some content strategy in my mind and the goal as product owner was clear to me — create content for user engagement and offer content that the user is looking for. Yes, the operative word was “user”, loud and clear. But as baffling as it may sound, not even a single candidate whom I interviewed in last few weeks mentioned to me the word “user” in his/her opening pitch. It all started with writing content for search engines and ended with content quality being SEO friendly. To add to that, the kind of content that I am looking to create is sort of new initiative for my target audience, so it’s important for the candidate to have basic understanding of the category. When asked about industry experience, understanding of target audience, pat came the reply — you can let us know which words work for you and we will figure out the content that’s doing well for those words in search engines and create content for you accordingly, the written piece will have all those words with right density and frequency.
Density? Frequency? Engines? What happened to writing content for humans? Last I knew was search engines were meant for discoverability but consumption of content was still done by humans. Isn’t it? And search gods like Google have anyways changed their algorithm to focus on quality of content rather than quantity of keywords inserted in it.
Then, why this focus on promotion so much more than production?
I understand the importance of marketing the content esp. in this age of too-many-of-any type of content but being a hard core marketer I can only say one thing — you try to market whatever, be it product or service or content, if the foundation of it is not in place, then your marketing can only help you just as much and not that much.
I know there are many golden rules that exist for creating engaging content, marketing the content etc but based on all my practical experiences in product & marketing, especially in digital, here is my quick list for new age content creation process:
User first — As basic as it may sound, but this is really important — put your users first above everything. Write for target audience and not for target channels. Content to me especially when I am looking for user engagement is exactly like a product. If you put your users in the heart of your content creation process, half of your battle is won. Speaking of user first, I actually love this quote by Jamie Turner:
As a simple practice when I write or approve any piece of content for my products, I generally check it on 3 quick parameters — is it offering value to my readers, is the language easy to understand for my readers and is it engaging, inspiring or thought-provoking for my readers? Yes, “readers” it is, in all three parameters.
Quality can never be outdated — Whatever changes may happen in our content search or content consumption behavior but one thing that can never be changed is the importance of “quality” of content especially in today’s age where there is a content jungle out there. You may adapt many tricks to get discovered but once the user has landed on your page and if sufficient substance is not there in your content then she will lose interest and is bound to navigate away immediately. To add to that, average attention span of readers has further reduced by more than 30% in last 3 years. While there are many methods to get your content promoted, and content marketing seems to be one of the most fashionable jargons these days but there is no substitute to the quality of content that you produce if you want your marketing to really work for your content.
Engage with readers — Again a term that we have heard quite often but it’s one of the most ignored parameters when it comes to content. Like any product or service, user engagement in your content is a must. Connect, interact, converse and accept the feedback or criticism graciously. The more the user is engaged, the easier it is for them to act or decide.
To sum it up, if the content is unique, offers value to its readers and is interesting enough to hold reader’s attention, then there is no reason why the reader won’t share and spread the word around it. “Share”, isn’t it the reason why content has suddenly become one of the most important marketing channels in the digital world?
Digital marketing is agile. Heard it, said it and experienced it many times earlier but I think the recent #CWC15 trend on Twitter is just one of the simplest and most perfect examples to explain this agility. Twitter this time definitely upped its engagement quotient manifold with its live cricket dashboard. It was a very well crafted and well promoted initiative with prompts and alerts at most visible places. Even a non-cricket lover couldn’t miss to notice it.
Twitter riding on an event is nothing new, neither marketers trying to grab consumer’s attention on all possible screens. But what was interesting to observe was the speed at which marketers could change their communication on this medium, engaging their audience in the moments that mattered, with messages that were contextually relevant at that point of time.
Just look at some of the screenshots grabbed on Twitter last week. Many brands came out with interesting messages that were very different from their general marketing communication, though some surely appeared to be force-fit in their quest to be different or relevant to the game. But overall the noteworthy point was the number of brands advertising on Twitter this time or the number of messages that brands could promote everyday depending upon which match it was and who was winning or losing the game. Imagine coming out with so many options during traditional advertising days? Imagine the cost implication or effort required to do it then? And no, I am not at all comparing the new age vs. traditional medium like television for things like reach. No doubts, television wins hands down at least in Indian market when it comes to reach but if I have to just take the digital medium as a second screen option, then the flexibility that this medium offers to adapt and be real time is fascinating!
And to me, the one brand that stood out completely on Twitter during ICC World Cup 2015 was Cadbury 5 Star. Not only were they smart in their content, they were also nimble enough to change as required. This Ramesh-Suresh duo knew how, when and what to speak. Otherwise, remember the reactions on seeing those super upbeat ads for any team during the commercial break on television esp. when that team was losing the game.
If I have to quickly jot down the steps on how to engage with your audience real-time without going into too much theoretical details of agile marketing, then I would sum it up in just three simple steps:
Easy, isn’t it? Think again :-). How many of us listen carefully before communicating? How many of us communicate judiciously instead of reacting? How many of us react immediately without listening properly? Sometimes the simplest things are actually not so simple to handle and so is the case with digital medium. While the medium is very easy to use but not everyone knows how to use it to its full advantage. And those who have figured it out are already excelling in engaging with their audience on second, third or multiple screens.
BTW, I started my post with digital medium but when it came to referring to this year’s world cup, I only used Twitter as an example. I am myself wondering why I could notice all of it only on Twitter and not anywhere else? Is it just me who thinks that Twitter was the most preferred second screen option during this world cup? Would love to read some numbers by other sites but for now I would leave you with this latest post by Twitter that officially states on how #CWC15 played out on Twitter across the world.
Did I just hear that this year the estimated spend on political campaigns in India is $5 billion? $5 billion? That’s like 30,000 crores in INR! $5 billion? That’s just $2 billion short of what they spent in last presidential election in US! $5 billion? That’s way beyond the permissible spend-limit on election campaigns in India. And from where did all this money come from? Curious, like really! But let’s leave it at that. There has to be something because of which everybody is discussing the campaign, the new age strategies, the messaging, the spend but not the real source of spend :). Partly we know the reasons of it, don’t we?
Now coming down to the campaign this year – I think it’s been phenomenal, be it the massive scale at which it has been managed or the diversity in messaging and medium that has been tried out. At least there has been an attempt of targeting different types of audience with different communication strategies this year. Hats off to the agencies and associates involved with these campaigns. As a marketer, I think this year’s campaign was noticeable and impactful and BIG!
But as a consumer? Well, I’m sure we have read this hundred times before – “No amount of good advertising can actually save a bad product”! And how relevant this seems for political advertising in India this year? Every time I see the ads like this or this on TV, I cringe. Neither the creative route is wrong, nor it has got to do with my being pro or anti any party. It’s simply the messaging, the commitment or the positioning that these ads are trying to make – those are false, just so blatantly false. And the leaders who are the faces of these ads just do not have any connect with the messages being communicated. The more I see these ads, the more irritated I get. Not to forget the bombardment that happens on radio, hoardings & digital media. Again reminds me of yet another famous saying in marketing world – “Nothing kills a bad product or service faster than good advertising”. These ads at least to me are just reminders of false promises by these political brands.
And then there are videos like these on women safety that has been doing rounds on social media. I’m sure it can’t be the work of formal advertising agency associated with that party but whosoever has done it, it’s such a trash. This is not just one video, I have also seen official videos speaking of women empowerment or safety in India. After all the incidents that has happened in last few years as gang rapes, molestation, rapes of minors, this is such a sensitive subject that perhaps should not have been used in any campaign. It’s not one or other party but we know that this is one issue that many parties have failed to fulfill their promises multiple times and at multiple levels. The consequences of such false commitments are so huge, then why even dare to bring these in your campaigns?
When the core itself is not in place, when there is a lack of trust in the prime product promoted, when the product has failed many times on its own commitments in past, then do you think any advertising can actually save such product? Yes, I know campaigns are required but did it change your perception?
Would love to know your views on Political Advertising in India for Elections this year. Liked it? Believed in it? Worth it?
As for me, how I wish that after every such political commercial on Television, we the viewers would have got to view this “No Ullu Banaoing” campaign by IDEA! Good sequencing, what say readers :)? And on that note, must say that love these IDEA ads and I think these IDEA ads are surely the highlights of Junior Bachchan’s career more than any of his movies.
*And a post on this blog after more than one and half years. Must thank political campaigns that finally compelled me to write here after this long gap 🙂
Have not updated my new posts on Pluggd.in here, so providing the links to some of recent posts at PI:
WoMM – The Evergreen Strategy for Free Marketing: “Word of mouth” marketing is an age old concept now and from bigger organizations to start ups, almost everybody wants to take this free marketing path. While some think that WOM is something which will happen on its own, some go ahead & incentivize their customers to spread the word and then there are some who take extreme steps of contracting paid outsourced help to create positive word of mouth for their brands. Despite this being “known-by-all” concept, how many startups are there who genuinely have been focusing on this free marketing route and targeting the consumers who can be influencers for fresh leads? Read More…
India to overtake China in mobile market by 2013 [Report]: As per a latest report by London based Informa Telecoms, India’s mobile subscriber base is set to rise to 1.159 billion by the end of 2013, thus making it the world’s largest mobile market. While India is poised to have phenomenal growth, the market in China is actually set to slow down. By the end of 2013, the number of active mobile subscriptions in China will be 1.106 billion. Read More…
Voice Blogging Service by Airtel – Voice is a Commodity: Bharti Airtel has officially unveiled its voice-blogging service now enabling Airtel subscribers to share recorded voice updates with their friends and family members. Read More…
Oyegirl.com – Online shopping portal exclusively for women: Joining the ecommerce trail now is Oyegirl – an online shopping portal for women. Though Oyegirl.com is yet another online shopping portal but this one is different in a way that it’s targeting only women and as their introduction reads – it is India’s first ecommerce portal exclusively for women. Read More…
Indiatimes launches HiBuddy, Voice Blogging Service: We had earlier written about voice based blogging service by Airtel. Now Indiatimes has introduced a similar voice-based social networking and blogging platform, called ‘HiBuddy’ for Reliance mobile phone users. Read More…
Facebook reaches 12 million user base in India: While Facebook crossed 500 million user base mark worldwide, it has also shown very positive growth in India and has touched 12 million mark as on yesterday. Users in India are uploading more than 53 million photos in a month and even mobile usage has increased nine-fold in the past year. Read More…
Consumer Confidence Index – Indians are Super Confident: While it was 127 in last quarter, it’s 129 for this quarter; Indian consumers remain most upbeat in the word despite food prices crisis at home and improving outlooks elsewhere. With a two point increase, at 129 points Consumer Confidence Index is the highest in India in the latest Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Survey followed by Indonesia and Vietnam both 119 index points. While India is ahead for last two quarters, but up till Jan’2010 it was actually Indonesia which was topping the list. Read More…
Blogging Journey Since Last 17 Years
Dreamer, Doer, Mother, Marketer - that’s how Kanupriya likes to describe herself and the order of these roles keeps on changing for her every hour of the day :-). Entrepreneurial in nature with strong product leadership skills, she has established brands and built products that have been industry differentiators in the Indian market. Digital media is her great passion and she is an active contributor to some of the country’s leading technology and marketing publications.
Kanupriya currently lives in Bangalore with her husband and son. When not working, she loves to spend her time with books, oven or paint-brush.