Marketing to Women: Expert Content Most Trusted

April 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

What content works best?  Marketers are struggling to make out what content is most valuable and how it works for them.  But, let’s look at how it works for the shopper.  The study recognizes three types of content:

Unknown• Expert Content:  Independent editorial reviews.  You know, the stuff you don’t pay for, in credible forums written by recognized experts.  If you were in the tech field, you might want a Walt Mossberg review or a TechCrunch story.

• Branded Content:  Paid materials like advertorials, company websites, or company blogs.

• User-generated content:  Unpaid reviews by web users on sites.

A new study from Nielsen and inPowered looked at the major types of content and its effect on the purchasing process.  And guess what?  A huge 85% of participants in the study said they seek out third-party information for all sorts of products.  They may use a variety of sources for information including social media, user reviews, advertising, websites and expert reviews.

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But when it comes to purchase consideration, affinity and familiarity, expert reviews win every time.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-25-at-3.34.16-PMAccording to the study, 61% of participants said they were less likely to trust any review commissioned by the company that produced the product while editorial writers are, by definition, offering their honest opinions.

Some might interpret this information as meaning you need only public relations.  But the truth is, all that content adds up to more than just one vehicle can accomplish alone.  Expert reviews may proceed a new product announcement.  Advertising will follow up and create awareness for the product.  Websites may provide product details.  And word of mouth and user reviews help reinforce the expert opinion and advertising claims.  It’s not just one

Marketing to Women: 79% Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

July 1, 2013 § 2 Comments

imagesA new study from BrightLocal shows that consumers are increasingly trusting online reviews for local purchases.  In fact, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  Only one in five consumers say they do not trust online recommendations.

Our research at Brand Wise has shown similar patterns in shopping behavior.  Most shopping starts online – whether the purchase is happening online or in-store.  BrightLocal found that 37% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the past month.  The top searches are for restaurants (67% of consumers), doctors/dentists (35%), general shopping (35%), hotel accommodations (30%) and clothes (28%).

And with a growth in online reviews, consumers can make decisions in advance before making their purchase.  In fact, 85% of consumers say they have read online reviews for for local businesses, up from 76% in 2012.  And of course, consumers say positive reviews raise their level of trust in the business, and their likelihood to use the business.

What are consumers looking to find in a customer review? When it comes to “reputation traits,” 71% chose reliability as the most important trait in a local business (up from 64%), while 45% pointed to good value.

While we trust online reviews, we are still using word of mouth as our personal way of informing friends and relatives.  During the prior 12 months, 72% of consumers reported having recommended a local business by word of mouth (down from 78% last year), while 37% did so on Facebook (up from 32%).

Those who are marketing to women need to embrace reviews the way consumers have, providing ways for consumers to write reviews for your services, whether it is on your website or on review sites.  Since much of that research is happening on smartphones, businesses need to have a clear, easy-to-read mobile site. And it is important to engage consumers on-line and respond to all comments, whether positive or negative.

Marketing Travel to Women: Do Travelers Trust Online Reviews?

April 27, 2013 § 4 Comments

images-1It’s the travel season.  I recently booked rooms in far-flung places where I had to rely on online reviews to steer my decisions. I looked for high ratings, seemingly honest guest reviews and photos that travelers had taken.

Do consumers trust online reviews for hotels?  Yes, of course they do, and they trust online reviews more than brand websites and ads.  TripAdvisor recently celebrated an impressive new statistic:  the travel review site reached 100 million reviews and opinions this month.  The reviews include more than 2.5 million accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and local businesses in more than 116,000 destinations.  Central Park in New York has more than 12,000 reviews!

 Here are some of the findings from Trip Adviser:

95% of travelers say reviews are trustworthy.

78% of travelers say reviews help them feel more confident in their booking decisions.

74 percent of travelers say that they write and post online reviews because they want to share a good experience with others.

53% of travelers won’t book a hotel that has no reviews.

35% of new reviews on TripAdviser are submitted by Facebook-connected travelers.

5% claim the hotel was not as good as the reviews implied, but 80% say the hotel met their expectations based on the reviews.

What signals a trustworthy review?  Travelers look for the number of reviews, pictures and images, and the quality and detail.  And all hotels should respond to hotel reviews.  I gave the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago high marks because they have an active social media presence and will respond to guests on social media.  It sets them apart. Almost 90 percent of hotel general managers agree that it’s critical for their staff to manage, respond to, and monitor hotel reviews on user review websites like TripAdvisorYelpGoogle+ Local, and Travelocity.

To find out how to spot a fake review, check out the infographic from Olery.

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Are You Marketing to Women? You Need to Lean In Too!

March 20, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

The idea of “lean in” is not a new one.  Lean in means to press forward like leaning in to the wind so you won’t be blown over – or leaning in because you are more than interested, involved – all in.  In the past few weeks, you need to have been in a cloistered retreat to miss all the hoopla over Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean In:  Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”  Sheryl Sandberg is an amazing woman who tells an engaging story about the workplace today and women’s own responsibility in moving up in business.

But marketers need to “lean in” as well.  Marketers need to recognize the power and influence of the women in the consumer arena and to greet that knowledge with more intuitive marketing that allows today’s women to see themselves in marketing.  Marketers need to be “all in” on the importance of women as consumers.

Here are just a few facts that support marketers “leaning in” on the subject of women and their purchasing behavior.

1.  One-third of Women are Single and Independent.   This is a growing group of women who think being independent is their most important life goal.  They have more disposable income than other women.  They are well educated, growing in management and happy to be single.

2.  Breadwinner wives are the highest wage earners in 40% of marriages.    From 2007 to 2011, women’s contribution to household income grew from 44% to 47%.  Male dominated jobs suffered the most in the past recession and women were more stable in their jobs.  Women now compose half of the workforce and are moving up the ladder.

3.  Women don’t think marketers understand them.  Women make 85% of all consumer purchases and yet, 91% of women don’t think marketeres understand them.  Women want authenticity, transparency, honesty and accurate portrayal.  Families are not longer nuclear, and women don’t measure success by how clean their laundry is.  It’s no surprise that only 3% of advertising agency creative directors are women.

4.  Marketers need to embrace women’s tools – social media and smartphones.  The newest figures out on social media usage from Pew show that the percentage of female internet users exceeds that of men (75% vs. 63%, respectively).  A new study by Weber Shanadwick provides richer insight on this social usage.  Here are some facts you can’t ignore –

  • 86% have a social media account/profile with 2.2 accounts on average
  • 81% Facebook is by far the most prevalent social media account
  • Women spend an average of 12 hours per week using social media (nearly 2 hours/day)
  • 19% say some of their best friends they know only through Facebook or Twitter

And why is this important?  Well, social women are social and have influence with friends.  They tell friends about products and services at a higher rate, they like or recommend services online, and they post comments and write reviews about products and services online.  And they post pictures or images online.

Oh, and smartphones are the most important tools in women’s handbags.  50.9% of smartphone users are women and we are using smartphones to stay in touch with our families and friends, interact on social media, and shop, shop, SHOP!!  If women can’t easily find you on their mobile phone or if you are not competitive, she will move on to another source.  Moms are on their phones six hours daily and  readily admit that their smartphones are more important than sex!

5.  Women buy based on emotion and facts. Okay, everyone does.  But marketers don’t seem to understand that in many arenas.  In purchasing decisions, 83 percent are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. One fifth of respondents said they would pay 50 percent or more if they felt the company put the customer first.  And yes, we have crushes on companies.  Who are those companies?  Think about your own list.  Mine includes Apple (oh, yes even if Samsung is making competitive products), Amazon (I smile when I see a box), Nordstrom’s (even my husband knows this is my brand), and Costco (a Saturday shopping pleasure).

So what’s a marketer to do?  Portray women accurately, don’t talk down to us, appeal to our emotional side, allow us to discover things about your brand, surprise us once in awhile, lavish us with great information and advice and like any good marriage – communicate, communicate, communicate.

Marketing Healthcare to Women: The Anatomy of Content Marketing

March 11, 2013 § 3 Comments

Content marketing is important to healthcare brands.  For many reasons.  The idea of content marketing is to intersect the consumer with content that promotes an idea, spurs an action or engages the audience.  No, this is not cat videos or elderly people playing dueling pianos.  This is real information that consumers can discover for themselves.  It is a targeted marketing approach that has quality, original content at its heart – hence, the infographic below – The Anatomy of Content Marketing from Content Plus.

Here are just some of the important facts to consider:

wider reachHubSpot research shows companies that blog typically get 55% more visitors than non-blogging competitors. This might have something to do with the fact that such sites get 97% more inbound links than others, which is also beneficial for their performance in search engine results pages (SERPs).

McKinsey Quarterly found up to half of all buying decisions are driven by a word-of-mouth recommendation.

Around 60% of Twitter and Facebook users are more likely to recommend brands they follow, so small businesses should focus on building their fanbase via quality content so they reap rewards.

The majority of consumers say they’d much rather get to know a brand through reading articles they publish than checking out advertisements about them. And 60% of consumers said they felt more positive about a brand after reading custom content on their site.

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Marketing to Women: Get Ready! New Face for Facebook!

March 9, 2013 § 2 Comments

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When Facebook announced its new design for the Facebook newsfeed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it was their goal to to give everyone in the world “the best personalized newspaper.” Who is everyone?  The 67% of online adults that use Facebook —  71% of women and  62% of men.  Read on to see what it means for consumers and marketers.

What does this mean for consumers?

Larger Images.  Well, it means there are larger images in your feed.  According to Facebook, photos make up 50% of all news feed stories.  So the new news feed takes up more of your Facebook page.  They call it putting a spotlight on what friends are sharing.  The shared articles also feature larger images and more information like longer snippets. Check-ins are also more visual with large map images, as is content from third-party sites like Pinterest.

Multiple Feeds.  Content specific feeds will allow you to sort between a range of different categories: Close friends, all friends, music, photos, games and people and brands you “follow” (as opposed to friend). And you can still see the chronological news feed.

Continuity in Look across All Devices.  Instead of a different interface on all media, Facebook has figured out how to incorporate the same look across smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Okay, how do I get it? Well, there’s a site for that and it’s pretty simple.  But don’t hold your breath, it’s a rolling conversion so you may have to wait awhile.  First, go to facebook.com/about/newsfeed.  Second, click the big green “Join Waiting List” button at the top of the page. Done!

What do marketers need to know?  

facebook-hangoverGood news here:  Ad Are Much Bigger!  Even the sidebar ads look bigger.  The larger canvas is good news for creative – but will it by annoying to users?  It will need to be engaging.

New Opportunities for advertising.  Promoted Posts, Sponsored Stories, and Page promotion ads can be visually engrossing – to flow with the rest of the news feed.

Filters for content are a question mark.  Facebook says there’s been consumer demand for filtered content like photos and music.  But will users use the filters.

If the filtered feeds are used, it could make for a splintered, hard to reach audience.  If people use the feeds, it will fragment the audience.  And, if they only use their friends feed, advertising will be lost to them.

Filtered feed might become sponsorship opportunities.  No real news here but if the music feeds and other entertainment feeds take off, sponsorships might follow.

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