JWT Intelligence — Trends for 2013

The end of the year = predictions for the upcoming year.  All of them are interesting but the one I really put stock in is JWT‘s annual trends report.  They invest a huge amount of time and money to explore and investigate our culture and I’m always impressed by the line-up of experts they reach out to, before they release their report.

Check out their trends for 2013 in this 2 minute video and then you can read a little from JWT’s Director of Trendspotting, Ann Mack as she answers a few of my questions about the trends and how they impact you.



The ten trends for 2013 are: (buy the complete 177 page report here)

  1. Play As a Competitive Advantage
  2. The Super Stress Era
  3. Intelligent Objects
  4. Predictive Personalization
  5. The Mobile Fingerprint
  6. Sensory Explosion
  7. Everything Is Retail
  8. Peer Power
  9. Going Private in Public
  10. Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand

I had a chance to ask Ann Mack (JWT’s Director of Trendspotting) a few questions.  Here’s what she had to say:

What trend surprises you the most?

It’s hard to pick, as I’m so close to these trends and find all of them interesting and significant in their own ways. However …

One trend I find really interesting is what we call Going Private in Public. In an era when living publicly is becoming the default, people are coming up with creative ways to carve out private spaces in their lives. Rather than rejecting today’s ubiquitous social media and sharing tools outright, we’re reaping all the benefits of maintaining a vibrant digital identity while gradually defining and managing a new notion of privacy for the 21st century.

Consumers are quickly coming to realize that ultimate control of their online privacy is out of their hands—even for those who diligently tweak the privacy settings on their profiles. With a few lines of code, Web titans can destroy carefully walled gardens, turning the task of maintaining the desired degree of privacy into an onerous chore. While Facebook users have periodically taken to posting privacy or copyright notices under the mistaken impression that these declarations will protect them, users remain subject to the social network’s terms of service.

It’s not just the Web powers-that-be that can toy with a person’s public persona, however—it’s also tag-happy, share-happy friends who don’t realize that just because something is public information or done in public doesn’t mean people want it publicized.
So the social-media savvy are finding ways to put some privacy back into their public lives, pruning friends lists, hosting photo-free “dark rooms” at parties to deter social media–sharing and creating Facebook pseudonyms to avoid the prying eyes of employers and others.

This is a compelling opportunity for brands, as they can amplify these existing behaviors. Argentina’s Norte Beer, for instance, found a clever way to ensure that “What happens in the club stays in the club” with an amusing innovation: a beer cooler that keeps drinkers safe from paparazzi-in-training. Distributed to various bars around Argentina, the Photoblocker emits a bright light when it detects the flash from a photo, making any images unusable. Nearby drinkers can safely party without fear of wide exposure.

If you were advising a business owner — which trend would you call to their attention first?

One trend we look at for 2013 which is important for business owners to consider is the rise of Peer Power. As the peer-to-peer marketplace expands in size and scope—moving beyond goods to a wide range of services—it will increasingly upend major industries, from hospitality and education to tourism and transportation. This is a culmination of a number of developments we’ve spotlighted in our Things to Watch over the years—from Couchsurfing in 2008 to Crowdfunding in 2009 to Micro businesses like Airbnb in 2011 to Crowdsourced Learning and P2P Experiences in 2012.

As P2P companies begin to disrupt major industries, many established players will turn to existing laws and regulations to limit their growth. But there are alternative (or parallel) paths that big brands can take that are less knee-jerk and more forward-thinking. For one, they can use the emergence of this new competitive set as an opportunity to rethink how they operate or position their B2C businesses in this growing P2P economy. And they can examine what kinds of new behaviors and expectations the P2P model is creating among consumers and start delivering against those.

Rather than fear or fight the encroachment of this new competition, established brands can embrace this development through a variety of means. Perhaps the easiest is to partner with peer-powered businesses in the same or related categories. BMW, for instance, took a minority stake in ParkatmyHouse through its i Ventures venture capital arm, which aims to extend the company’s range of products and services over the long term by investing in innovative mobile service providers.

Taking it one step further, brands can add a P2P element to their business or launch a business line that addresses a newly created demand or challenge to their industry. For instance, high-profile universities including Stanford and Princeton are participating in MOOCS (massive open online courses), via new ventures like Coursera, rather than fight the tide of free or low-cost online courses, many taught by amateurs.

In partnering with these upstarts or launching their own version of a P2P service, established brands can infuse freshness or modernity into their persona, broaden their appeal and/or get an existing consumer segment to look at them in an interesting new light. Initiatives such as this also provide the opportunity to learn more about the audience, inner workings, and strengths and weaknesses of P2P enterprises.

Looking at the trend list as a whole — what do you think it says about the last few years?

New technology continues to take center stage, as we see major shifts tied to warp-speed developments in mobile, social and data technologies.Many of our trends reflect how businesses are driving, leveraging or counteracting technology’s omnipresence in our lives, and how consumers are responding to its pull.


Looking back, which of the 2012 trends do you think fell flat or didn’t really come to fruition the way you expected a year ago?

Any trends with real significance can’t be assigned to just one calendar year. The trends we explore on an annual basis have significant weight and momentum, and indicate shifts that are likely to be with us for a while. That is why we track our trends from past forecasts on an ongoing basis. As for our 2012 trends, we continue to see them play out in new and numerous ways.

“Celebrating Aging” is one of those trends. Last year, we observed: “Popular perceptions of aging are changing, with people of all ages taking a more positive view of growing older. As demographic and cultural changes, along with medical advances, help to shift attitudes, we’ll redefine when ‘old age’ occurs and what the term means.”

This year we saw that development reflected in product development, marketing and entertainment. Earlier this year, for instance, MAC cosmetics launched a collaboration with 91-year-old style standout Iris Apfel. The collection is inspired by colors favored by Apfel, a longtime interior and textile designer who’s come into the spotlight in her twilight years. We also saw the critically acclaimed movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel—described by Time as “a charming celebration of aging”—become a surprise box-office hit. The film by director John Madden follows a group of British retirees moving to India to live in an old hotel and features acting heavyweights Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, both of whom turn 78 this year.

Another trend from our 2012 forecast, “Objectifying Objects,” continues to gain momentum. As objects get replaced by digital/virtual counterparts, we’re seeing more people fetishize the physical and tactile. This is giving rise to “motivational objects,” or items that accompany digital property to increase perceived value, and digital tools that enable creation of physical things.

This past year, for instance, we noted an increase in a range of new services that allow people to get to grips—literally—with their social media output, turning it into real-world items. MOO Inc. offers business cards created from Facebook users’ Timeline images and data, using the same fonts and layout; it includes the person’s Facebook URL. The Twitter Poster re-creates the customer’s profile picture using his or her tweets. And Stitchtagram is a service that crafts handmade pillows using fabric printed with the customer’s Instagram shots.

 

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Email open and click rates – are they rising?

(download full-sized infographic made by B2BMarketing.net)

Interestingly, the answer is yes.  And no.  According to a recent study done by Experian Cheetahmail (download the white paper) shows that open rates are up but click rates are down a little bit in the 2nd quarter of 2012. (As you can see by the infographic above, different studies reveal slightly different numbers but the interesting and important thing to notice is that they’re pretty darned close.)

According to the study, the total open rate for Q2 2012 was 21.9%, an improvement from the previous year, which was at 21.6%. Similarly, Q2 2012’s unique open rate of 15.2% was up from a year earlier (14.8%), but down from the previous quarter’s 15.5%.

A June report from Epsilon found the benchmark email open rate for Q1 to be 26.2%, up on quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year bases.

Most of the other metrics tracked by Experian Marketing Services saw year-over-year declines in Q2, yet many saw less pronounced decreases when measured on a quarter-over-quarter basis.

For example, Q2 2012’s click-to-open rate of 15.4% was a significant drop from 18.2% a year earlier, but represented a smaller decline when compared to Q1’s 16.3% rate. Q2’s unique click rate of 2.5% was down from 2.7% in Q1 and 2.8% in Q2 2011.

Other Interesting Findings:

  • The overall transaction rate dropped slightly from the previous quarter and previous year.
  • The average revenue per email in Q2 was $0.12.
  • Average order declined to $156.37 from $159.93 in Q1 and $160.27 in Q2 2011.
  • The bounce rate dropped to 2.6%.
  • The unsubscribe rate also fell, to 0.15% in Q2. The Q1 rate was 0.16%, while the Q2 2011 rate was 0.2%.
  • 55% of brands had statistically significant year-over-year increases in open rates.

Going back to the infographic — look at how the research tells us we can improve our own open and click thru rates:

  • A better subject line will increase opens by 40%
  • Personalizing the email will increase opens by 32%
  • If the subject matter is on target, you can increase opens by a whopping 55%
  • Sending your email from 10 am – 1 pm in the middle of the week (Tuesday is the #1 day) also will increase your odds of having that email opened

If you want to learn even more about smart email marketing, check out the brand new book by Jason Falls and DJ Waldow called The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing*

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*Affiliate link

Are you making one of these 7 content marketing mistakes?

It seems like everyone is talking content marketing these days, like it’s it hottest thing since sliced bread.

Of course, for many businesses — this is just a new name for something they’ve been practicing for eons.  They’ve been creating valuable newsletters or writing white papers for years.

Which does not mean that you’re doing it as well as you could or should be.  Are you happy with the amount of people and the kinds of people your content marketing efforts are attracting?

Bigger question — how purposefully are you weaving a content marketing strategy into your overall efforts?

I’m betting your company is not harnessing the real power of content marketing because of one or more of these reasons:

  1. It’s something that happens every once in awhile but not on a regular basis.
  2. You create some content but don’t promote it well across all of your digital and analog channels.
  3. You create content but you talk about yourself, your products etc. more than you should (you are selling, not teaching).
  4. You produce some content but not in a format that is easily shared by your audience.
  5. You do it in a silo, it’s not woven into all your other marketing efforts.
  6. You don’t use an editorial calendar so your production schedule and topics are usually by the seat of your pants.
  7. The visual presentation of your content is boring or worse — off-putting.

Recognize yourself in any of those issues?  This isn’t all new stuff.  MMG has been around for almost 20 years and we’ve always preached the power of content marketing –even before we had a name for it.

But thanks to our universal access to the internet and our ability to easily share files, visuals, etc. — this marketing best practice has taken on a life of it’s own.

If you’re not doing more of this than ever before — I think you need to ask yourself why.  And what it is costing you.

How are you implementing a content marketing strategy for your business?

 

 

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Content marketing is important but not free!

One of the things that irks me is when I hear a marketing “expert” extoll the virtues of content (or social or digital) marketing and to close the sale — they remind their audience — “and best of all, it’s free.”

Poppycock. (I know…such language!)

At MMG, we believe there’s not really an organization in existence that can’t benefit from a content marketing program.

But like most good things — it’s not free.  Access to some of the social networks might be free — but creating compelling content that demonstrates the value of working with you is going to cost you time, attention, dedication, money, and a host of other things.

I elaborated on this thinking over at the MENG (Marketing Executive Networking Group) Blend.  Check out my post (by clicking here) and let me know what you think.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

Are you falling behind when it comes to mobile?

I think it is fascinating in a “I don’t get it” sort of way.  We all know that mobile is where digital is headed.  We’ve all repeated the “by 2015, the #1 way we will access the internet is through our smart phones” and yet… it seems like most people are lollygagging along when it comes to getting onto the mobile train.

Is your website mobile optimized?  Are you learning more about mobile ads?  Are you thinking about how you’re going to accept mobile payments?

Or do you look like this infographic?

Browse more infographics.

 

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Going viral = out of your control

It seems like one of the goals I hear more and more is… “and we want it to go viral.”  I translate that to mean — we want a lot of people to see it.

But rarely when someone says they want something to go viral, do they really understand the implications of that.  The biggest one is — the minute it begins to go viral, it begins to take on a life of its own and it is beyond your control.

Let me give you a very tangible example.  My daughter and several of her college friends decided that they wanted to jump into the Sh*t People Say meme that was started in December (the original video has over 16 million hits – click here to view it) and make a video based on what University of Northern Iowa students say.

Their intention was pretty straight forward and college kid appropriate — they thought it would be funny. (And it is).  So they scripted and shot the video with that intent.  It’s filled with inside jokes about the names of resident halls (Dancer, Bender, Rider so you can imagine the joke!) and some of the art that lives on campus. And the first 50 viewers or so, mostly their friends or people within their circle of friends, were of the same mindset.  They got a lot of “LOL” type comments.

But then as the video began to spiral outside their own circle and go viral, some interesting things happened that we all need to keep in mind as we cross our fingers for a viral spread of our marketing efforts.

Not everyone is going to like it.  Some people took the humor as putting down the college they loved and took offense.  And there were a couple swear words sprinkled throughout which a few people objected to.  No matter how clear your intent or how pure your motives — as your audience widens, so will the range of opinions.

People will apply it to their own agenda. Like most Universities, UNI was not without some controversy this year.  Budget cuts are leading to dropping some majors which routinely only graduated a few kids a year.  Professors and special interest groups started sharing the video as proof “that the kids are upset that classes are being cut.”

Know that we all view things through our own perception/lens.  And nuance and meaning can be inferred or transfered if the motivation or inspiration is strong enough.  Sometimes that will work for you and other times, it might take you off course.

People will nitpick at it, because they would have done it different.  Apparently UNI is a very windy campus and one of the bits referenced that inside joke.  A commenter pointed out that they should have shot it in a different location which is the windiest of the windy spots.

One of the truths that has become apparent via social networks is that everyone has an opinion.  And now, they have multiple ways of sharing it. Some will applaud your efforts, others will take the opportunity to critique.  You can’t put yourself out there if you aren’t ready to accept both.

The lessons learned by the UNI students is a very valid one for all of us that create content and toss it out into the social wind — hoping it will grab an updraft.

There’s the trade off.  If your efforts goes big (their UNI video has over 5,600 views as of this posting) it will also go places you never imagined or intended it would go.  Is that bad?  No, of course not.  The goal is exposure.  

But you need to be ready for the tangents, the crazies and unintended consequences because those are part of the package too. If your brand is strong and consistent, most people will dismiss the fringe comments and see what you were trying to say.

The fear that comes with the potential loss of control is why so many brands do social media badly or not at all.  You have to be willing to let go and trust your audience.

Hmm, there’s an interesting twist.  We want them to trust us with their money but are we ready to trust them with our message?

(Hat tip to my daughter and her fellow students for their creativity and willingness to see what happens.  A special nod to freshman Linh Ta (Electronic media major) for a great job shooting and editing the video. Want to read her thoughts on studying journalism in today’s world? Check out her blog.)

Photo courtesy of www.BigStockPhoto.com

 

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