Millennial Attendees Reshape Event Success Strategies

As the millennial cohort expands event attendance, trade show and conference marketing clients, as well as performing arts marketing clients, with AccuList USA are beginning to change their targeting, messaging and event planning strategies to cater to a demographic that demands technological multi-channel savvy, interest-specific targeting, and experiential and interactive content. A recent post by UK-based Conference News highlights three strategies that event professionals can adopt to woo the millennial audience.

Offering Multiple Connection Points

While millennials are known for their social media, mobile-phone-addicted personae, studies show that these digital preferences can actually fuel greater live event interest; Conference News cites one survey showing 73% of millennials consider live event attendance as a way to express their beliefs and personality online. But it also means that event planners need to take cues from their digital experiences. Since millennials flock to online platforms that offer a nexus of various interests and connectivity, an event that focuses too narrowly can misfire. Conference News argues for a “multi-faceted event” and cites North Carolina’s Moogfest as an example. Moogfest is primarily a music festival, but, in 2016, it added a stage for workshops, installations and discussions of the current political climate. By combining art, activism, food/drink, and activities in one place, it addressed attendees’ multiple passions and created more social media fodder and buzz at the same time.

Playing With Non-Traditional Venues

Meeting the millennial demand for a multi-faceted event experience can require going beyond hotel conference rooms and exhibit spaces. In 2017, the demand for non-traditional spaces rose by 3.8%, notes the article. The right non-traditional venue will be a site that generates interest in itself while still providing comfort and meeting attendee requirements. Although on-site logistics may be more challenging, more event pros are betting that this venue creativity pays off in attracting and retaining audience.

Investing in Event Technology

Millennials are technically savvy and expect technically savvy event support. The Conference News article cites three event technology ideas likely to gain ground this year: 1) RFID (radio-frequency identification) wristbands, long in music festival usage, can work in other event milieus to speed up entry lines and to allow purchases without cash or cards; 2) Mobile Event Apps can let attendees craft customized experiences via eased navigation, personalized schedules, push notifications about upcoming activities, and social sharing with other attendees; and 3) Artificial Intelligence (AI) not only means chat bots to answer attendee questions but, in coordination with social-media-based event app info, can generate personalized on-site recommendations. See the complete article at http://www.conference-news.co.uk/blogs-features/top-3-event-trends-explore-2018

Skeptical of Marketing Tech Buzzwords? You’re Not Alone

To help support direct marketing clients, AccuList USA tries to keep up with the latest in marketing technology and tactics, and so we’ve been bombarded along with clients by advice on how to seize opportunities with personalization, “big data,” omnichannel, real-time marketing, and, most recently, artificial intelligence (AI). Marketers struggling to find room in real-world budgets often worry that they’re falling behind in an escalating martech arms race! New research by Resulticks—a survey of over 300 marketing pros across industry verticals—offers interesting perspective.

Big Expectations: Big Data and Personalization

“Big Data” was the hot topic at the 2013 DMA Annual Conference, with 50% of marketers enthusiastic about investing. But making practical sense of those data torrents turned out to be more difficult than expected. Resulticks finds that only 16% of today’s marketers have fully implemented big data solutions, 20% have given up on the concept, and just 27% rank big data as a top priority now. Part of the problem is overhyped, underperforming martech platforms, per the survey, with 21% of marketers complaining that vendors overpromise and underdeliver. In contrast, personalization—meaning targeting that goes beyond basic attributes such as name to deeper parameters such as purchase history and online behavior—has done better in fulfilling expectations, with 60% of today’s marketers reporting full or partial implementation. The only fly in the ointment: Tech investments have not always kept pace with enthusiasm, and only 20% rate their software ability to deliver personalization as “excellent.”

Technically Challenged: Omnichannel

Back in 2014, one study found almost half of retailers saying they were going to commit to an “omnichannel” approach. Unlike multichannel marketing, where marketers touch customers at multiple points on their journey, the ambitious goal of omnichannel marketing is to create a seamless customer experience across all channels. Resulticks finds that only 9% of today’s marketers describe their approach as omnichannel, compared with 63% who use a multichannel approach. Technical barriers explain omnichannel’s failure to thrive. Only 35% have fully or partially implemented the required software platforms for omnichannel, and, among those who have bet on platforms, 58% rank vendor execution as “poor” to “fair” (compared with 13% who give their omnichannel software “excellent” marks).

Enthusiastic Embrace: Real-time Marketing

There’s a better report card for the “real-time marketing” that rapidly uses data across channels for more timely, targeted engagement in the customer journey. Resulticks reports that 49% of marketers rate their real-time marketing ability as “good” to “excellent,” that half say they have fully or partially implemented real-time marketing solutions, and that 47% say real-time is a priority for their organizations today. However, many marketers may need to adjust their definition of “real-time” if they want to compete for customers’ expectations; 47% are defining real-time as responding in an hour or more (with 20% taking a day or more), compared with the 12% delivering true real-time response in the milliseconds.

New Kid on the Block: AI

Social media giants have been betting on AI, and marketers are following their lead, with one study showing more than 50% planning to adopt AI in the next two years. However, Resulticks’ survey finds almost half (47%) of the marketers polled already rate AI as overhyped. Here’s a big source of that skepticism: 43% of marketers believe martech software vendors overpromise and underdeliver, and 69% rate their vendors’ ability to execute AI as “fair” to “poor.”

To download the study report, go to https://www.resulticks.com/marketingflabtofab.html

2018 Digital Marketing Spend to Rise; High Hopes for Social

AccuList USA’s digital marketing clients are already looking ahead to 2018 results, with many planning to increase digital spending. They’re following the trend reported in a recent survey by Ascend2, which found that 93% of firms expect to boost digital marketing budgets in 2018.

Boosted Digital Spend Planned in 2018

The survey, conducted in December 2017, tapped 217 marketing influencers, with 43% working for B2B firms, 35% for B2C firms, and 22% for hybrid firms. The combined 52% planning marginal increases and 41% planning significant boosts in 2018 digital marketing budgets dwarfed the 7% who intend to decrease digital spending. But the more interesting data involves where the marketers foresee the biggest bang for digital bucks in the year ahead.

Social & Content Marketing Dubbed Most Effective

Respondents expected the most effective digital marketing tactics in 2018 to be social media marketing (18%), followed by content marketing (17%). Search engine optimization was seen as most effective by 15%, e-mail marketing was seen as leading by 13%, and paid search and social ads was chosen by only 11%. The lower ranking of e-mail and search ads was not due to execution barriers; both were rated as among the least difficult to implement.

Execution Challenges for Data Management & Technology

In contrast, surveyed marketers reported the greatest execution difficulties for data management (18% rated as most difficult) and marketing technology (also 18%). Content marketing and search engine optimization tied for second place in terms of implementation challenges, with both selected by 16%.

Go to https://research.ascend2.com/2018-digital-marketing/ to download a full copy of the Ascend report.

How B2B and B2C Data Silos Spoil Marketing Harvests

Silos can be great for agricultural storage, but they spell trouble when we’re talking about customer data trapped in company departmental and systems silos. As a data services provider in the age of multi-channel “big data,” AccuList USA certainly has client experiences that attest to the value of integrated marketing data and analysis, and the dangers of data silos.

Data Silos Undermine Big and Small Marketers

Research shows the magnitude of the problem. For example, a recent blog post by Veriday, a digital marketing company, noted that more than 80% of marketers say data silos within marketing obscure a seamless view of campaigns and customers. And that doesn’t even consider data trapped outside marketing in IT, sales, etc. In larger, older companies, many data silos result when outdated processes and separate information systems hamper linkages. Yet silos are not just a big-business issue given the average small business today is using 14.3 different systems, as the Veriday post points out. Yes, information can be transferred between silos via import/export or manual efforts, but this risks duplication, errors, delays, inconsistent hygiene and inaccurate updating. Marketers are likely to face poor immediate ROI and wasted future opportunities from an incomplete and inaccurate picture of customers, campaigns and channel results. Smart marketers will invest in solutions, such as third-party support, software for content management and marketing automation, and data warehousing.

Silos Prevent Personalized B2C Marketing Success

In business-to-consumer marketing, data silo risks are growing more acute, stresses a Forbes magazine article by Denise Persson, CMO at Snowflake, a data warehouse firm. She cites Accenture survey results showing that, while the promise of a deal or discount was the top driver of customer loyalty last year, in 2017, 58% of customers find marketing programs that are highly tailored to their needs much more enticing. As customers demand more personalized marketing, marketers can embrace targeted, contextual approaches using search terms, browser history, etc. But, Persson warns, if each marketing channel–website, social media, e-mail, online ads, direct mail–uses a different set of data to develop a different channel strategy, marketers will end up with a fragmented customer picture delivering a fragmented brand experience! Persson urges centralized storage and analysis to allow for a full line of sight into customer activity; real-time data access and analysis; channel attribution visibility; and tailored loyalty programs.

B2B Silos, Separated From B2C, Miss Audience

Another type of silo can impact business-to-business efforts: isolating business-to-business from business-to-consumer data. A blog post by Ajay Gupta, founder of Stirista, a digital marketing agency, points out the myopia of failing to link business and consumer data, especially now that digital media is blurring the line between professional and personal lives. Gupta gives the example of a company that wants to market a personal electronic device by targeting a proven business prospect list with only B2B e-mail addresses. If the company enhances the prospects’ B2B info with B2C data, it could expand its reach by sending out e-mails to B2C addresses, direct mail to home addresses, online display ads via digital cookies, plus targeted social media ads! Linking B2B and B2C data is a great tool for B2B onboarding, argues Gupta. Since data management platforms match B2C e-mails at a higher rate, linking B2B data to B2C e-mail addresses boosts reach. Creating custom audiences on social media can also benefit from a B2B link to B2C. Since most people use their personal e-mail addresses when they create social media accounts, connecting B2B data to personal e-mails will help reach far more B2B prospects on social media, too. Check out Gupta’s complete article.

Science & Tech Can Help Events Capture Audience

For an event to succeed, trade show marketers must build attendance before the event and deliver for attendees by the end of the event, whether measured by lead generation, education or networking. We’ve worked with many trade show and conference marketers over the years, especially in audience-building via direct mail and e-mail, and we’ve learned quite a bit about the art of it. But there is science and technology required for success today.

Scientific Triggers to Capture Audience

For example, BizBash.com did an interesting Q&A with Ben Parr, author of Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention, in which Parr highlighted research-based conclusions about seven “captivation triggers” of audience attention. These triggers can apply to event promotion as well as onsite efforts by show managers and exhibitors. Start with “automaticity,” which means using colors and symbols that automatically change and direct attention, such as the color red. Move on to “framing,” setting the value of an event in a context that garners more attention, such as stressing event ticket scarcity because of limited space (read valuable/exclusive). A message or design that offers “disruption,” meaning a violation of expectations, naturally grabs attention (something the political sphere is proving right now), as does “mystery,” such as an intriguing headline or subject line. Of course, there is the standard attention-getter of a “reward” for attendance, either an extrinsic reward (a swag bag), an intrinsic reward (personal self-improvement), or a combination to maximize impact. The good reputations of event, exhibitors and speakers really count, too; brain research shows audiences are especially attentive and trusting of experts, for example. And, last, an experience captures more audience attention when there is “acknowledgement,meaning personalized communication and validation. Read the whole Q&A at https://www.bizbash.com/qa-the-science-of-capturing-peoples-attention/new-york/story/30966#.WTc6lGjysdV

Tech Trends to Transform 2017 Events

Meanwhile, Event Farm, an enterprise event marketing platform, has interviewed event experts to find new technology trends likely to affect event marketing in 2017 and beyond. They winnowed their findings down to five key trends. One prediction is that more events will focus on going to meet attendees instead of drawing audiences to a centralized location; Event Farm cites the example of a successful Master Card promotion around England’s Rugby World Cup finals that, rather than holding a conventional event, met fans in London subway stations and surprised them with free tickets. Virtual and augmented reality technology make this even more viable. A second trend is to have events bring the internet to life onsite, and vice versa, by letting attendees engage with online experiences, such as viral memes or videos, and thus harness their proven viral appeal. Third, marketing pros foresee that the end of an event will no longer signal the end of an experiential marketing campaign, so that marketers engage with attendees (and non-attendees) after the event via tactics such as re-purposing an event presentation or sharing “digital” event memories. Fourth, more people will use live streaming to complement events via services like Facebook Live, not as a substitute for attendance but as an attendee-engagement enhancer and driver of future event participation. Finally, it’s predicted that attendees will increasingly seek to engage with the digital and physical landscapes simultaneously; one example is the use of smartphones to help navigate through a venue. For the whole article, see http://blog.eventfarm.com/blog/5-trends-for-experiential-marketing-in-2017-and-beyond

 

Fundraising Pros Forecast 2017 Trends for Direct Mail

For nonprofits, 2017 offers an avalanche of political and technological changes, yet we don’t see any trend sweeping direct mail or e-mail out from under fundraising marketers just yet. Certainly, AccuList USA’s top fundraising mailing lists, based on proprietary research, continue to deliver donors and dollars to clients.

In fact, NonProfit PRO magazine recently found relevant mailing insights when it asked nonprofit pros nationwide for 2017 fundraising trend predictions. A few nuggets from its “40 NonProfit Trends for 2017” include:

Digital & Analog Can Grow Together

Marketers should see digital and non-digital communications as symbiotic rather than competitive. Indeed, Roger Craver and Tom Belford, editors of The Agitator, predicted that the continued rise of digital technology and data will paradoxically foster an increase in “old fashioned” pre-digital methods of communication and relationship building, such as direct mail, printed “thank you” notes, personal phone calls and print newsletters. Why? Because old-fashioned non-digital communications “provide a key—and currently missing—fundraising ingredient: a human, real-life interaction between an organization and its donors.”

Integrating Not Just Multiplying Channels

Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE, principal of Clairification, advised nonprofits to recognize that they are now dealing with an all-encompassing “Generation Connected” (GenC) and must be in multiple spaces simultaneously—but with consistent and integrated messaging. Merely fundraising through multiple channels does not equal integration from the consumer’s perspective, she warns;  integration requires coordinated images, messages and offers across channels to avoid muddling the brand.

Going for Mailing Depth Over Volume

Direct mail is still a top fundraising tool—but not if used as a blunt instrument. Nick Ellinger, vice president of marketing strategy at DonorVoice, noted recent Dutch research that found 63% of the revenues of an additional nonprofit mailing aren’t new revenues but rather cannibalized from the revenues of other communications. However, by investing in donor knowledge and targeting, customization and personalization rather than just mail volume, test programs report stable gross revenue and a significant increase in net revenue in year one (or year two at worst), Ellinger reported.

Direct Mail’s Not Dead & Neither Is E-mail

Eric Rardin, vice president of business development for Care2, predicted that e-mail will only increase in importance in 2017. While social tools and platforms proliferate and compete, e-mail emerges as a digital tool that best allows marketers to push traffic and engagement online, he noted, so the value of an e-mail address, with permission to mail, will continue to increase year over year.

Use Technology to Kick Up Results

Though “old-fashioned” mail still drives donations, it may do a better job if paired with new technology. Shari Mason, vice president, marketing communications of Smile Train, suggested embracing 3D-printing initiatives, virtual reality experiences and social-good fundraising platforms to improve giving-impact communications, message sharing, call to action, and cause awareness. Leigh Kessler, vice president of communications for CharityEngine, even urged testing mobile device voice intelligence technology (Siri, Cordera, Google Now)—for example with a direct mail piece that says, “If you have Amazon Echo, just say ‘Alexa, I’d like to Give $25 to customURLnonprofit.org.'”

For more trends, read NonProfit PRO‘s “40 NonProfit Trends for 2017.”

Direct Mail Woos Millennial Shoppers by Embracing Their Digital Side

With the millennial generation, roughly those aged 18-35, now outnumbering boomers, most marketers want to keep this big batch of younger purchasers in their crosshairs. Yet direct mailers sometimes report frustration that response does not match assumptions and expectations from mailing lists and creative.  One cause of lower than desired response may be failure to take into account how millennial shopping and buying habits differ from those of other generational groups.

Yes, Millennials Shop Differently (and Digitally)

A recent article by eMarketer, drawing from its “US Millennial Shoppers 2017” survey report, cited three shopping habits that should be of interest to direct marketers. First, millennials tend to prefer digital shopping, even while in stores. Second, millennials are very comfortable with mobile shopping. And third, millennials have a strong presence on social platforms yet also respond well to direct marketing via e-mail. (See more on the report.)

How Direct Mailers Can Woo Millennials

Millennials are not averse to direct mail–but it depends on the direct mail. Target Marketing magazine’s Summer Gould recently cited five reasons direct mail may flop with millennials–and three come back to the clear digital preferences identified by eMarketer. First of all, a direct mail offer that does not include an online purchase option is missing sales, Gould points out. And, per eMarketer reporting, mailers may be losing sales in a big way considering that 90% of millennials, 93% of Gen Xers and even 84% of boomers said they bought online in a June 2016 Berkeley Research Group survey. Next, since millennials clearly embrace mobile shopping, every aspect of the shopping experience should be mobile-friendly (website, landing pages, shopping cart), Gould advises, and it is certainly key if the direct mail includes mobile-scanned QR codes to connect digitally. Then, since social media matters to millennials and is where they do research before they buy, a direct mailer lacking a social presence is also snubbing millennial shoppers. But not just any social outreach will do; millennials want authentic, informative, humanized interaction.

Friendly, Authentic, Tech Savvy

Regardless of digital messaging, printed content also needs to seem authentic and friendly if the mailer wants millennials to make a connection with the offer and the brand, per Gould. Millennials value companies that make them feel good, she points out, so mailers should review their creative and remove the phony or impersonal. Finally, millennials expect a company to be up-to-date with technology and to integrate marketing, shopping and sales with technology–whether in-store, in direct mail, or on the website. Millennials can relate to direct mail offers–but not if they are tied to a company that lacks the technological savvy to make interaction easy, seamless and personalized. Do millennials’ digital and tech preference mean that direct mailers can only succeed by stuffing technology into print pieces–QR, AR, video, etc.? Not necessarily, answers Gould. As with any marketing effort, just test what makes sense for enhancing audience experience and boosting response.  For Gould’s article, see http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/post/how-to-get-millennials-to-respond-to-your-direct-mail/