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Email Tips and Planning for the Holidays…

October 14, 2021

SHIFTING SMALL BUSINESSES INTO HIGH GEAR WITH RESEARCHOCTOBER 14, 2021 – On a regular basis we are now sharing research (from our studies and others) that we are confident can improve your marketing. If you have specific research questions, please share and Dr. Lougee will look into it.   

DO YOU USE EMAIL MARKETING? – We run several email marketing programs for clients (contact us for a bid to handle your program). Therefore, we are always reviewing research that provides insights into how to improve open and click-through rates (CTR) by choosing specific days and times for sending out emails. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually the best days to send emails. As for time of day, these are key transition times:

  • 8 am is a great way to capture folks who check emails first thing in the morning.
  • 1 pm falls during/after lunch break.
  • 4 pm is when people need a pick-me-up to get through the last workday hour.
  • 6 pm falls during/after an evening commute.

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules. That is why you need to research your audience to know what works for them (we can help you with that too). Here are two respected studies that provide additional insights.

  • A study by GetResponse analyzed about 4 billion emails focused on active senders with a minimum of 1,000 contacts. From their data, Tuesday has the highest open rate and click-through rate. They also found that 1 pm is a great time to send emails, but also offered 10 am as another time slot with strong open and click rates.
  • HubSpot pulled data from 20 million emails sent over a 10-month period and found that Tuesday was the best day to send an email in terms of open rate. This was followed closely by Wednesday with Monday coming up third. HubSpot’s peak time for email opens was 11 am. The only exception is on Sundays when the peak time for open rate is 9 pm.

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR HOLIDAY TRAVEL? – According to Google sponsored research, travelers say they feel safer, with the perceived risk of taking a vacation down by 17% since January 2021. Google also reports that when it comes to holiday travel, 30% to 40% will plan trips a month or more in advance, but the majority will make plans less than a month ahead of time. And what should you be telling these future travelers? Your destination is a safe place to visit.

According to our ongoing (8 years running) DMO Website Study, a majority of potential visitors now think “feeling safe” is the number one priority in picking a destination.

Are you listening? Do you have and do you communicate your health and safety measures and contactless options? Contact is if you want some specific ideas on how to do that.

Until next time, keep shifting into high gear!

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Welcome to a new approach…

September 30, 2021

Welcome to the re-launch of our blog. We have shifted the focus from marketing to research. Why? Because in working with clients during the pandemic we’ve found that increasing your research efforts is critical for shifting your company into high gear. On a regular basis we will be sharing research (from our studies and others) that we are confident can improve your marketing. If you have specific research questions, please share and Dr. Lougee will look into it.   

IS IT TIME TO SURVEY YOUR CUSTOMERS? – As businesses begin focusing on 2022, this is a time many conduct customer studies. “If your customers reach the future before you, they will leave you behind.” Not sure where I picked up this quote, but it still holds true. Here’s are some tips on conducting customer studies.

Use your email customer list – Many businesses have e-mail lists of customers/clients, and this is a great place to start with planning for the new year. However, how you frame the survey pitch, and the design of the survey, are critical. We can handle that for you. We have a fall special (as low as $750) to serve as your research partner in these studies. Working with an outside firm gives you a big advantage – a third party (DCG Research), independent study, that has much greater credibility with stakeholders, boards, and customers.

Consider using online panels – If you want to survey the general public, explore using online panels. There are several large, reputable companies that can offer you this service. But be careful, they are not all reliable. We’ve worked with the best, so contact us and we will share this information.

Are email/online studies reliable? – Absolutely. We get asked this question often when designing online studies for our clients. Online surveys offer several advantages over phone or mail studies, lower cost being the obvious. But there are other pluses.

PEW Research conducted an excellent analysis of phone vs. online polling, since the majority of their polling is now online. We can provide you with a copy of their report, but here are a couple key takeaways that may make you more comfortable using email/online surveys.

  • When an actual person is asking questions, people are more likely to respond in a way that paints them in a positive light or avoids an uncomfortable interaction. This social dynamic is removed when people are taking surveys online. This difference, based on the method of interviewing, is known as a mode effect.
  • There is a large body of research on this topic, and it shows that mode effects are most likely to occur under only a few scenarios. If the question asks about a sensitive or potentially embarrassing topic, self-administered online surveys tend to yield data less skewed toward the answer respondents see as socially desirable than do interviewer-administered surveys. Therefore, there is compelling evidence that online polls measure attitudes with less error (e.g., less social desirability bias) than phone calls.
  • Online polls also tend to have lower levels of nonresponse (e.g., fewer “don’t know” responses) when an explicit “don’t know” or “no opinion” option is not offered.
  • Telephone survey samples often skew older respondents, while online survey samples sometimes skew younger.
  • Finally, telephone polls are one-off surveys in which a new, fresh sample is interviewed each time a poll is sent out. Online survey panels recruit a sample of the public that is willing to take different surveys. They tend to be much more willing to take longer surveys.  

WHO IS TRAVELING IN A PANDEMIC? – Many of our clients are in the travel business, so I thought this 2021 study by HealthCareInsiders.com, which focuses on Americans’ travel perceptions during the pandemic, would be valuable in planning future marketing.

Millennials (18 to 34) are 50% more likely than Gen-Xers (35 to 54) and 15% more likely than Baby Boomers (55+ in this study) to feel comfortable traveling right now. They are even more likely to travel this winter, with 88% of Millennials comfortable traveling then.  When asked to choose which of 10 specific activities, they most look forward to resuming:

  • Millennials were most likely (19%) to cite travel, just behind being able to ditch face masks (20%).
  • Generation X tied eagerness to resume travel (17%) and family gatherings (17%), but behind masks (25%).
  • Baby boomers (55+) ranked family gatherings (20%), after the ability to stop wearing masks in public (31%). The ability to travel was 16%,

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

August 7, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Welcome to August! Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

 THE FUTURE OF COVID-19?

 Well, COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be going away after five months. So, we all need to learn how to live and market in this COVID World. And that is why you need to join our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World.” This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making data. Email me now to learn more.

COPYCAT

TikTok, the short video platform, is under fire with the President banning the Chinese-owned app, which claims 100 million U.S. users. While Microsoft is in talks to buy part of TikTok, Facebook is moving ahead with a copycat program called Reels, which is launching in over 50 countries, including the U.S., India, Brazil, France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan.

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services. The Instagram “Story” feature is similar to Snapchat. And they recently launched a Zoom conference competitor. Marketing lesson: Copying your competition is OK if you have plenty of money! But unless you have very deep pockets, it usually doesn’t work.

GOING NATIVE

There’s still time to join our new native ad campaign. If you have not used native ads and want to test them, our GO NATIVE cooperative program lets you run a 30 day campaign, targeting 10 zip codes of your choice, for as little as $420. Email me for details.

THE NEW EDUCATIONAL DILEMMA

With schools around the country looking online education only because of COVID-19, the challenge of kid’s screen time is a nightmare for most parents. Access to the internet and how many devices will you need in a home for education are also issues.

Yes, parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago, according to a PEW Study. Around seven-in-ten parents of children under 12 say they are at least somewhat concerned their child spend too much time in front of screens. And some parents already believe their tech-using child spends too much time on certain devices and digital activities. Now, kids need to spend even more time on screens for school. Ugh.

SELF-SERVING

If you follow the news, you know the President is dead set against vote by mail. Well, no, not really.  The President, who votes absentee in Florida, now reports that because the state is so well-run, vote by mail isn’t a problem in Florida. Marketing lesson: If you are going to make self-serving statements, at least try and make them sound less self-serving.

And if you wondering what would be the impact of increasing vote by mail? No reason to run research, just check out the results in Georgia. They had a 68% increase in voter turnout in this year’s primary from 2016 after sending absentee ballots to every registered voter.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

July 23, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

TIME TO GO NATIVE?

One of the biggest growth areas in online marketing is the use of native ads. These ads look like stories. I am sure you have seen these; I’ve included an example below. They are labeled “ads,” but they still get almost 3x the “click thru rate” compared to banner ads.

We’ve been running highly successful native campaigns for our clients for years. If you have not used them and want to test their use, we just launched a new GO NATIVE cooperative program that lets you run a 30 day campaign, targeting 10 zip codes of your choice, for as little as $420. If you are interested in more information, contact us.

THE BIG TWO

Speaking of online advertising, the majority of digital display ad  revenue goes to two companies: Facebook (42%) and Google (11%). Another 12% went to other tech companies, including Amazon; Verizon Media Group, which owns Yahoo and AOL; Twitter; and Microsoft, among others. I suspect that Facebook is now losing market share because of the July boycott and the challenge of controlling content.

THE FUTURE OF COVID-19?

Well, no one really has a crystal ball that works, that is why research is critical. As the country begins locking down again and demanding mask wearing, just wanted to remind everyone about our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World. This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making data. Email me now to learn more.

THE SHY TRUMP

I keep warning people not to take presidential polls too seriously in July. I believe that many people being asked for their opinion fall into the “shy Trump”  phenomenon: the idea that some people who support Trump will refuse to tell pollsters that they plan to vote for him, out of fear that they will be judged negatively for it. This phenomenon can happen with any poll. People have a tendency to give answers that they think will make them sound smart and culturally correct. That is why research design and analysis is so important.

Now, some researchers disagree that this “shy Trump” affect had any impacted in the 2016 election. If you are interested in a scholarly look at what happened in 2016, you can read this very detailed report. It is kind of overkill, but interesting. Click here.

CONGRESS GOES SOCIAL

The President’s use of Twitter has dramatically changed the congressional social media landscape, according to PEW Research. Compared with a similar time period in 2016, the typical member of Congress now tweets nearly twice as often, has nearly three times as many followers and receives more than six times as many retweets on an average post. On Facebook, the typical member produces 48% more posts and has increased their total number of followers by half.

THE STREAM TURNS TO A RIVER

Living in a COVID-19 world has made streaming services a major winner. According to MoffettNathanson, a market-research firm, during the second quarter of 2020 Netflix was in  73% of American homes, Amazon Prime was in roughly 51%, and Hulu was in 36%. Disney+ is now in 28% and Apple TV+ is in 7%. Interestingly, the launch of Apple’s and Disney’s services didn’t bring a noticeable drop in their rivals’ numbers. Now NBC’s Peacock has just joined the streaming team. If you have not explored marketing on streaming services, you are behind the curve.

$21,000 PER MINUTE

Ending with some fun facts. That is what Amazon spends on advertising and promotion last year, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. It’s now the top U.S. advertiser. Here are some other facts about Amazon’s dominance online. Their cloud service (Amazon Web Services) controls 40% of the market, running the backend for Netflix, Pinterest, Slack, and dozens of other services. Bank of America estimates Amazon currently has about 44% of U.S. e-commerce market share. Almost 90% of UK shoppers use Amazon. No wonder that Jeff Bezos is the richest person in America according to Forbes.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

July 13, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

BEING A BETTER ZOOMER

Video meetings have gotten to the point where almost everyone hates them. But roughly two-thirds of workers who have been working from home say they would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible when pandemic restrictions lift, according to a recent Gallup poll. So, get use to them. That’s why I thought these Zoom tips from the Walt St. Journal’s Betsy Morris needed to be shared. You can read more detailed info in the WSJ.

Don’t Be Late – Video meetings make it obvious when colleagues show up late, wasting the time of those who log in promptly. A rule of thumb: There’s no need to recap for a late arrival.

Turn on the Camera – Avatars and stock photos are no longer acceptable. Increasingly those who use avatars are known as “lurkers.”

Sit Still – Don’t pace. Colleagues stop listening because they’re watching you. If you need to change location, don’t just grab the laptop, and go, making everybody else feel like they’re on a wild amusement ride. Turn off the video momentarily so you don’t make everyone dizzy.

No Eating – Don’t eat on a video call—and especially don’t eat chips. “The crunchy crunch of chips is just gross. Stop it!” says Samantha Castro, director of video production at the digital platform InspireHUB.

Get Good at Interrupting – Asking permission to talk via chat or raising your hand is awkward. Those moves make it impossible to achieve what’s becoming the ultimate video chat: when everybody in attendance forgets they’re meeting remotely.

Close the Door – Turn off your phone. Stop notifications and Twitter alerts. Arrange for family (and pets) to stay out of the way.

Don’t Multitask – Asks everybody to close all other windows on their screens so they can be fully present.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TECH DEVICE?

Speaking of living in a COVID-19 World, what tech gadget is most important to you? A recent Deloitte Study reveals the smartphone is the winner. It has grown in importance from 6% in 2010 to 36% in 2019. They are even more popular with Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X, with more than 40% of those consumers ranking them as their most preferred device. Second place, flat-panel TV. Several devices, the basic mobile phone, portable music players, non-flat-panel TVs, and the DVR, disappeared from the top 10 list.

In 2010, desktop and laptop computers ranked first and second, respectively, in terms of perceived value. While both experienced a significant decline, 13% of consumers still rated them as their most valued devices in 2019. Laptops still ranked third overall (tied with desktops), according to the Digital Media Trends Survey.

Why is all this important to you as a marketer? You must make sure your website and marketing look good and functions well on smartphones.

BETTER, BUT NOT GREAT

Watched the PBS TV series “The Vote,” which was a fascinating look at the history of women earning the right to vote. That’s why I thought this Pew Research Study was interesting.

Today, only about half of Americans think women voting was a milestone, but a majority believe that the country hasn’t gone far enough. Among those who think we need to do more, 77% point to sexual harassment as a major obstacle. Fewer, but still majorities, point to women not having the same legal rights as men (67%), different societal expectations for men and women (66%) and not enough women in positions of power (64%) as major obstacles to gender equality. Women are more likely than men to see each of these as a major obstacle.

Marketing Takeaway: Women are not equal to men and you need to make sure you are aware of this with images and copy in your marketing materials. For example, are you showing mostly men only photos in your marketing?

PLANNING YOUR FUTURE

When can schools safely reopen? When will the economy really start recovering? And when will you next eat in a restaurant, go to a movie, watch pro sports, or hang out at a friend’s house? All of these are, in fact, versions of the same question: When will the United States finally start to get the coronavirus under control?

And the answer appears to be not any time soon. That’s why we are have launched our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World.” This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making data. Email me now to learn more.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

July 7, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your post 4th of July week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

FINDING A NEW PATH

As I mentioned in my last blog post, there has never been a more important time for customer research. You can’t afford to guess about the future. You need hard data. That’s why we have now launched our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World.” This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making customer data. Email me now to learn more about this super low-cost research.

CAN A VIRTUAL CONFERENCE WORK?

As reported by the New York Times (NYT), many believe that the recent Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference was a bellwether for the future of online event as the coronavirus pandemic makes physical conferences impossible. NYT reported that most attendees said they missed the serendipitous social interactions of in-person conferences, but many praised the sharp production and easier access of this year’s event, which was streamed free for eligible participants. Making things free helps. With a hefty price tag, $1,599 last year, plus travel costs making it free made the event more accessible to programmers overseas and those with tighter budgets. Some said the format was less hectic and noted that one-on-one sessions were more productive because they were able to reach an Apple employee who could help them work out a specific problem or concern.

IS POSITIONING TRICKY?

Yes. Once you learn what your customers think via research, making sure they know where you stand is called positioning – staking out a unique selling propositions (USPs) that will increase your business and keep you in step with your customers. It is not easy and presidential election speeches over the 4th of July provide a case study on positioning.  Now, with four months to go, no poll can tell you who will win the presidential election. But research can tell you the mood of the voter (customer) at this point of time.

PEW research reveals Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As we face a pandemic, an economic recession, and protests about police violence and racial justice, only 12% say they are satisfied with the way things are going. The majority, 71%, think the country is going in the wrong direction. But what direction should we be going?

If you listened to President’s Trump 4th of July speeches, while praising peaceful protestors he believes that people think the country is going in the wrong direction because of “the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.” Polls that revealed that 26 million people protested the death of George Floyd (CBS Sunday Morning), his position is that these people our misguided and they want to destroy our history, our cultural icons, our societal privileges, and only Trump has the strengthen to stop these attackers.

On the other hand, the Biden camp, reviewing the same research, decided to position Biden as someone that believes the country is going in the wrong direction because we have not lived up to the promise of our founders. “Our country was founded on an idea: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ We’ve never lived up to it. Jefferson himself didn’t. He held slaves. Women were excluded. But once proposed, it was an idea that couldn’t be restrained. We have a chance to live up to the words that founded this nation.”

What positioning is correct? Only time will tell. But the marketing lesson is clear: you have to listen to your customer, then stake out a position, a brand, and execute a marketing strategy that supports it.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

June 26, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts as COVID-19 makes a dramatic return (30,000 cases a day). As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

FINDING YOUR PATH

Let’s open up. Let’s get back to normal. Wow, 30,000 cases a day, let’s lockdown, again. What is a business owner to do? There has never been a more important time for customer research. You can’t afford to guess about the future. You need hard data. That’s why we are developing a series of short, industry specific, surveys so you can find out what your customers are thinking about coming back to your business. Each of our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” surveys are focused on a specific segment: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list we can provide you with decision making data.

We plan to launch these surveys in July. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR FREE BETA TEST, JUST EMAIL ME NOW.

IT’S NOT GOING TO BE EASY

One of the reasons we are launching our ““Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” study is that the marketing landscape has never been more challenging. This is readily evident looking at national TV spots. Sad piano music is out, and turning on the lights is in. Clydesdales gallop, and bars with neon “Open” signs are featured in Budweiser’s newest ad. It concludes, “Buds are back.” Of course, Texas just closed bars again. “The phase we’re in now is a phase of euphoria,” as Bud’s chief marketing officer stated. “People who are tired of being locked down see an opportunity to resume elements of normal life.” But is that still true? The unity that largely marked the early stage of the pandemic has given way to divisions around numerous issues. Janet Balis of Ernst & Young, believes that “brands need to be even more careful than at the beginning of the crisis.” And that is why being a part of our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World study may be one key to your survival.

GOOGLE TAKES A HIT

If you think you can resume your social media marketing, as usual, think again. Major advertisers are cutting back. That’s one reason Google’s U.S. ad revenue will decline this year. Their money-printing machine, overall ad revenue, has seen double-digit growth in its two-decade existence, except for the 2008-09 financial crisis. What’s different this time? Many consumers are cutting and shifting their use of social media. Why? That is one of the questions we are asking in our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” survey.

PAYING FOR CONVENIENCE

Thousands of small businesses use the payment service Square for credit cards. That’s why this news item caught my eye. The company is now holding back up to 30% of the money they collect. Square, which is led by the Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, says the reserves are meant to protect consumers who may ask for refunds. Don’t believe Jack. My bet is that they are shielding their own struggling bottom line. So that begs a question. Are U.S. businesses going to join the worldwide trend of charging for credit? Having recently returned from Australia/New Zealand, if you use a credit card down under, you pay extra for it.

Why should struggling small businesses, who are being forced to use credit cards more in coronavirus protection protocol, pay banks and others (like Square) for your convenience? Will customers accept this extra charge? That is one of the questions we ask on our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” survey.

Bottom Line: Knowing what your customers think about living and working in a post Covid world is critical to your long-term survival. Email me now to learn more about our survey.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

June 13, 2020

THIS WEEK – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts as COVID-19 begins to make a comeback into our lives. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

EVENTS CREATE PUBLIC OPINION

That is one of the basic tenets of public relations. The public really doesn’t have an “opinion” until an event creates one. That is why the remarkable events over the past few weeks have dramatically shifted social attitudes. As David Brooks pointed on PBS (June12th), “If you ask people, do you support the Black Lives Matter, most people said no. And now, by 29 points, they say yes. If you ask people, what do you fear more, police violence or the violence of the rioting and looting, they say, I fear police violence more by 2-1. If you ask people, are black people treated unfairly and abused unfairly by the police, after Eric Garner was killed in 2014, only 33% said that. Now 58% say that.”

A current PEW Research Study shows that Americans have been following news of George Floyd’s death and the demonstrations nearly as closely as COVID-19 news, and many are discussing it frequently with others. Six-in-ten say President Trump’s message in response to the protests has been wrong, while 57% say news organizations have done a “good” or “excellent” job covering the protests.

Why does all this matter when it comes to marketing your business? Because it shows the importance of constantly listening to your customers. Being aware of shifting attitudes. I think customer listening is more important than ever. Unfortunately, few business took the lockdown period as a research opportunity to listen to their customers. Your customers were stuck at home, with little to do, and wanted to hear from you. They wanted to share their opinions. We know this, because we conducted research in this period and that is what they told us. They also provided some feedback that is changing how our clients reopen. Now, it is not too late to listen. Make reaching out to your customers a goal for June. Contact us if we can help.

UPSIDE DOWN BUSINESS MODELS

Now that businesses are reopening, most are facing a nasty truth: Their current business model may not work in a post COVID-19 world. And this may require massive investments in changing your environment or services. Case in point, Starbucks is building drive-through stores and to-go only locations faster. It is going take roll these out in 12 to 18 months, instead of three to five years, Starbucks said. The company is also rolling out ads encouraging customers to order ahead through its app. Homework for next week: Bring your team together and see what you have to do to survive long-term.

UNMASKING THE TRUTH

The debate over “to mask or not to mask” lead me to this research. The Washington Post reported that Italian Massimo Marchiori, a professor at the University of Padua, has done one of the first studies on the impact of a mask on social behavior. “Everyone talks about social distancing,” Marchiori said, “but no one had actually measured actual social distancing.” His findings suggest that wearing masks has a profound effect on how we perceive others, and in particular how close we are willing to get to strangers.

Unmasked, Marchiori found that fellow pedestrians actually drew closer to him as he passed them on a sidewalk, typically within a foot. But when he donned a mask, people drifted back — nearly twice as far as when he wasn’t wearing a mask — suggesting the mere sight of protective gear activated the underlying knowledge among pedestrians that keeping their distance helped keep them safe. In other words, masks appeared to make an extremely social species less social — and less vulnerable. “It’s our humanity that is actually bringing us toward the virus,” said Marchiori. “You have to take away a bit of humanity, to become a bit antisocial, to protect humanity.”

THE SECRET AMAZON ADVANTAGE

If you are marketing online, you can’t ignore the power of Google and Amazon. Google continues to dominate online search. And Amazon controls online buying. Period. That’s why it is very disturbing that Amazon takes advantage of third-party sellers. Finally, someone is doing something about this, but not in America.

The European Union plans to file formal antitrust charges against Amazon over stealing data from third-party sellers and using it to compete against them by launching similar products. A Wall Street Journal investigation published in April found that employees at the online retailer at times used data from other sellers to develop competing products.

Until next time, stay safe, stay health, stay positive.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

June 5, 2020

THIS WEEK – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for a post COVID-19 World. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

COMING TO A TV NEAR YOU

People are increasingly using TV sets to watch YouTube. Most smart TV’s offer this option. Now, YouTube wants you (advertisers) to spend more money to reach these people. They want a bigger piece of the traditional TV and streaming ad budget. But it’s not going to be easy according to a story by Wall St. Journal’s Sahil Patel (CMO Today). “Their soul is social media with user-generated video online… becoming a TV platform requires a lot of field work in curating the content and really defining the audiences you’re curating this content for.” Stay tuned.

A DIFFERENT TAKE ON FAMILY

If you market to families, listen up. As the oldest Millennials turn 39 this year, they are taking a different path in forming – or not forming – families of their own. According Pew Research, they are less likely to be married, have children, and live in a family, compared to previous generations at the same stage in life. Those who do get married or have children are doing so later in life. Here’s some other family facts from Pew:

Only 44% of Millennials are married, compared with 53% of Gen Xers, 61% of Boomers and 81% of Silents at a comparable age.

Overall, marriage rates have declined since 1970, and the sharpest declines have been amongst the least educated adults.

Intermarriage rates are higher for Millennials than any other generation across all racial and ethnic groups. The rate of intermarriage among black Millennials is nearly twice as high as that of black Gen Xers at a comparable age (18% vs. 10%).

CHANGING VIEW ON RACISM

One of the research themes I share often: research is a snapshot in time. So, in light of this week’s Black Lives Matter protests, it is interesting to note how quickly America’s view of racism is changing.

In two separate polls this week, 57% of Americans said the police were more likely to mistreat black people than white people, far more than ever before on record. In both polls, about half of white Americans said so — a stark jump. In 2016, shortly after the killing of Alton Sterling, just 34% said officers were more likely to use force against a black person, including only 25% of white people, according to a Monmouth University survey. In the poll that Monmouth released this week, three-quarters of all Americans said that racial discrimination was a “big problem” in the United States — 17% points higher than in 2015 — and 78% said the anger that led to the current protests was at least somewhat justified.

FACT-CHECKING, NOT EASY

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at discouraging social media companies from censoring posts. But in a 2018 survey, 56% of Americans said tech companies should take steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits freedom of information.

About seven-in-ten Americans (72%) said in another 2018 survey that it is somewhat or very likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints they find objectionable. In the same survey, 43% said major technology companies support the views of liberals over conservatives, while 11% said they support the views of conservatives over liberals.

Half of U.S. adults believe fact-checking websites are fair. But 48% said they tend to favor one side. Democrats (69%) said they fairly with all sides. Republicans (70%) said they tend to favor one side.

Ok, enjoy getting out of the house… looks like we are making some progress on controlling COVID-19.

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POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 29, 2020

THIS WEEK – As businesses reopen, here are some marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

UNCOMFORTABLE RESEARCH

Can research tell you something you don’t want to hear? Yes, it happens all the time. Take the case of a recent Facebook Study that showed that the company’s algorithms weren’t bringing people together. They were driving people apart. As reported in the Wall Street Journal: “Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” read a slide from a 2018 presentation. “If left unchecked,” it warned, Facebook would feed users “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.” That presentation went to the heart of a question dogging Facebook almost since its founding: Does its platform aggravate polarization and tribal behavior? The answer it found, in some cases, was yes.”

Executives largely shelved the basic research, according to previously unreported internal documents and people familiar with the effort and weakened or blocked efforts to apply its conclusions to Facebook products. Why? Divisive content is good for business. It builds engagement (time on the site) even it is bad for society. Marketing lesson here: Self-interest is the real interest in society today.

MORE WAYS SPEND AD DOLLARS

People have been using Instagram to build their brands and businesses for years. Influencers often make deals with companies to create sponsored posts or set up revenue sharing to recommend specific products. Unlike YouTube, Instagram has never put its content creators on the payroll, until now.

Instagram has now announced two new ways for users with “creator” accounts to make money: ads on IGTV (Instagram TV) and badges for Instagram Live. Instagram will split the revenue, with at least 55 percent going to creators. The company will also give fans the chance to sponsor their favorite creators and businesses with paid “badges” on Instagram Live videos, which cost less than $5 and place a small heart-shaped icon next to their name. Instagram is testing right now.

ANOTHER VIRUS VICTIM

News Corp (they own the Wall St. Journal) will stop printing more than 100 Australian newspapers, closing 36 outright and moving the rest 100% online, citing media shifts accelerated by the pandemic. The New York-based media company said 76 local and regional newspapers in Australia would become online only, with 36 closing altogether. There is no question that the stay at home order has increased internet media viewing and decreased print advertisers. Another sign of the times, Wall Street Journal now has 3 million total subscribers, a record—more than 2.2 million of whom are digital-only subscribers.

ANOTHER ACRONYM

When I was in the Navy, I thought the military had a corner on abbreviations and acronyms – shortened forms of words and phrases.. But keeping up with marketing today continually adds new ones. How about OTT? That stands for “over-the-top” media – delivering media over the internet, bypassing cable, broadband and satellite platforms. Think Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Hulu and others. It is the fastest growing media option today. Many research studies are showing that OTT viewing is changing due to the growth of services, content, and devices as well as the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on consumer behavior. Marketing takeaway: the ability to reach consumers is changing rapidly. You need to keep up.