8 Game-changing Approaches For Solving A Marketing Plateau

When a company starts seeing its first successes in a marketing strategy, it feels exciting. Growth can be massive and exponential at the start, but over time, the massive numbers can start to taper off. The longer you hold onto any one marketing strategy or tactic, the less an audience might be engaged in your marketing.

AdAge

When this happens, the first instinct of marketing professionals is to look at where the existing strategy can be improved. The better approach might be to shake things up a bit and change tactics completely. Switching up your marketing has the benefit of taking your audience by surprise while remaining interesting to your existing customers. The approach you bring to the switch-up of tactics can make it much easier to get those numbers growing again.

These eight thought leaders from Ad Age Collective have experience with switching up marketing strategies when things get stale. We asked them about the most game-changing plans they’ve encountered in careers. Here’s what they had to tell us.

1. Diversify your presence.
Treat marketing activities with the same sound advice one gets from a financial adviser: diversify your investments. Marketing channels ebb and flow in popularity influenced by external factors. Establish a presence in digital, print, audio, video and real-time channels and watch your metrics daily so you can respond to spikes in preferences to be exactly where your audience is, and when. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

2. Test new messaging and creatives.
When we lose momentum, a game-changer for us is testing new messaging and creatives. Messages can get stale and creative trends change over time. Mixing up the creatives and messaging gives something new to excite existing audiences while potentially reaching new audiences. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

3. Explore testing into new audiences.
Explore testing into new audiences. Brands love to go after millennials, but women over 50 account for 27 percent of all consumer spending. Through customized creative and targeting via paid media channels, you can reach new, untapped customers to drive your business forward. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Look for tactics with a large audience.
Once you have plateaued in your marketing and have harvested all the “low-hanging fruit” per se, look for marketing tactics that have a very large audience. For example, consider offline channels, sponsorships or even influencers to boost your public persona and develop a larger identity for your brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Automate your processes.
Automating your processes can be a game changer for marketing, especially when you plateau. There are always areas to improve, and to save on time and money. If you have the appropriate software collecting relevant data and analyzing it, then it saves time for the web developers and can offer new opportunities to review data. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

6. Create a flywheel or compound effect.
Try to create a flywheel or compound effect with your marketing. Many marketing activities don’t get more efficient with time, but those that do are game changers. Loyalty programs, user groups, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations and influencer marketing are all areas to consider but are not an exhaustive list of potential flywheel marketing initiatives. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

7. Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes.
Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes and identify another area of their day-to-day lives you can be a part of. It may be simply marketing on a different channel or platform or looking to partner with like-minded brands that are important to your audience. If you have plateaued in one area, don’t abandon it. Keep that message going but identify that other point where the audience can find you. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

8. Go back to basics.
It may be counterintuitive, but I find that going back to basics can take you forward. Whenever I feel like my marketing efforts have become stale, it’s because I have over-complicated things. So, I go back to fundamentals. What do people want? What are their pain points? And then I listen to them on social media and frame content that answers their needs. Simple changes are all that’s needed. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

13 Critical Steps When Partnering With An Influencer

Influencers are among the most impressive traffic-generation engines marketers have available to them today. However, not all influencers are created equal. For a business, just seeing the numbers that an influencer can impact is only the tip of the iceberg. Companies need to know the people they’re partnering with.

 

Forbes Agency Council - Influencers

In all aspects of business, trust plays an important part, and a company should know it can trust the face of its marketing. Thus, for companies to be secure in partnering with an influencer, they should start by learning more about their potential partners. Below, 13 experts from Forbes Agency Council share a few critical steps companies should take when checking an influencer’s trustworthiness.

1. Know The Influencer’s Audience

Successful influencer marketing is essentially tapping into an influencer’s audience; hence it’s not only important to look at the feed, storytelling, followers, engagement rate etc., but also at what audience you are tapping into. Are their followers your target demographic, are they interested in fashion or cars? You are accessing an influencer’s audience so make sure it is the right one. – Emilie Tabor, IMA – Influencer Marketing Agency

2. Don’t Take Influencer Status At Face Value

There are many things you can do to investigate the true value of an influencer for your brand. As you do so, keep in mind that what’s important isn’t just their follower count. In fact, many smaller influencers can make for a great choice if they have high engagement and a true relationship with their audience. An influencer’s personal audience connection is what really matters. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

3. Make Sure Your Values Are The Same

Your business is successful because you have a win/win solution for you and your customers, and your ideal customers’ values match your business values. Your association with influencers will only work if they believe in the values of your company. Their endorsement will come out authentic only if they believe in your business, plus their followers will be closer to your ideal customers. – Ajay Prasad, GMR Web Team

4. Do A Deep Dive Into Their Life

Before partnering with an influencer, do a deep dive into their life to make sure their persona is something you want your brand to be associated with. If you make the wrong decision on an influencer, only to realize this after you have gone public, quickly remove them. Don’t be afraid to let your consumers know you made a mistake and will correct it to be more in line with your brand values. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

5. Look Beyond The Individual

Take time to look into a potential influencer’s online connections and other partnerships. You should already be familiar with their followers, but what do you know about the people the influencer follows — do their messages and posts align with your values? This shouldn’t be used as a pass-fail test, but it can give you some insight into your influencer’s motivations. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

6. Look At The Numbers

It’s hard to judge how trustworthy an influencer will be, but the numbers won’t lie. Check the audience composition of their channels — does the age, gender and location align with your target? Do a quantitative analysis of other partnerships they’ve had — what did reach, engagement and clicks look like? It’s a red flag if they’re unwilling to provide the above, or if the numbers don’t look great. – John Keehler, RUNNER Agency

7. Request And Review Analytics

One important step each business must take when checking the validity of an influencer before partnering is requesting and reviewing their analytics to ensure their social accounts are genuine. In doing so, you can more accurately and confidently predict that partnering with the influencer will drive you qualified traffic and result in new sales. – Jonathan Durante, Expandify Marketing Inc

8. Ask For References

Ask your influencer to demonstrate the success and impact they’ve had with other businesses. Ask for references, too — or seek them out on your own. It’s important to get third-party insight into how your influencer moved the needle for others. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

9. Look For Low Fraud Levels

When choosing an influencer, authenticity is of the utmost importance so be sure your influencer has low fraud and no recent competitive posts. If an influencer has fake followers, you’re paying a premium to connect with fewer real followers. If the influencer posted about a competing brand within the last 30 days, they may not seem genuine and could negatively impact your brand. – Maria Sipka, Linqia

10. Check For Fake Followers

Tons of influencers buy fake followers. If their engagement rate is below 1%, their following is most likely purchased. There are many apps you can check that provide metrics on bots or inactive users. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, reach out to a social media agency that manages influencers. We usually keep a blacklist. – Kelly Samuel, Kelly Samuel

11. Read The Audience Comments

Sometimes, reading the comments under photos and videos of an influencer can give a clear picture of what sentiment their audience has for a certain type of content. Understanding that can help in selecting those creators that can actually influence the others and avoid those who bought fake followers or who are receiving only bland emoji comments. – Alessandro Bogliari, The Influencer Marketing Factory

12. Make A Real Connection

Whether it’s a phone call or a Zoom meeting, you’ll learn a lot more about someone through live connection than you will in their DMs. Set up time to chat one on one with potential partners. The little things, like whether or not they’re on time, will give you a peek into their reliability, and a real-life conversation can help you vet how they fit with your brand quickly. – Kate Weidner, SRW

13. Implement A ‘Q Score’

The most important step is recognizing that an influencer’s following is not the only criterion to determining a good fit with a brand. As an industry, we need to develop and start implementing a “Q Score” for influencers just as we do when evaluating celebrities. This type of measurement would dig deeper into an influencer’s persona and appeal and help ensure an authentic fit with a brand partner. – Carl Fremont, Quigley-Simpson

15 Ways Potential Influencers Can Attract Sponsors

Influencer marketing has become such a significant part of many businesses’ strategies that they’re always on the lookout for new talent to add to their roster. As an influencer, getting noticed requires the most amount of effort. Potential influencer marketers need to know what sponsors are looking for and try to deliver on that.

Businesses tend to regard an influencer’s ability to offer their brand message to the correct audience as the most crucial factor to consider. However, an influencer can deploy several strategies to make sure they get the right eyes on their content. Below, 15 associates of Forbes Agency Council explore how influencers can get themselves noticed by sponsors.

Forbes Influencers as Sponsors

1. Become Part Of Influencer Networks

Brands rely on platforms such as CreatorIQ and others that provide recommendations to brands. The caveat here is that the data is not always accurate. If an influencer’s following and engagement rates are legitimate and accurate, brand marketers would be interested in seeing results achieved on previous projects in order to determine whether a working relationship would be beneficial. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media

2. Leverage Automation Platforms

One of the biggest challenges agencies have is managing multiple influencer campaigns at the same time. It can be a lot to track. Automation platforms should be the wave of the influencer future. Rad Intelligence is one I can recommend. Full disclosure, we work with this group a lot and their latest iteration of the platform has performed well for some of our clients. The ease of organization and planning is tops! – Jason Fishman, Digital Niche Agency (DNA)

3. Don’t Be Afraid To Connect And Ask

If you have a well-defined brand image and audience, don’t be afraid to reach out to agencies and companies and ask for partnerships that make sense. There’s a lot of competition in the influencer space, and sometimes, all it takes is a little outreach and determination. Our agency has created fruitful partnerships with high-level influencers over Instagram direct message in the past. – Travis Peters, EightPM

4. Connect With Their Buyer Persona

For an influencer to be an asset to an organization, their audience and followers need to match with the buyer persona of the target company. The influencer needs to provide follower and audience demographics in addition to engagement metrics so the company knows that the influencer’s target audience is a prospective buyer and that their investment is going to attract the right audience. – Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions

5. Build A Solid Media Kit

A solid media kit with statistics will help agencies partner with influencers easily. Also, having a website/blog adds a lot of credibility and is seen as valuable for agencies. – Sam Founda, Social Connection

6. Be Different And More Professional

Influencers range from everyday customers to full-time professional influencers. Be a brand yourself. Be professional. Consider how potential brand customers will regard your content and how they imagine you influencing their brand. – Jim Caruso, M1PR, Inc. d/b/a MediaFirst PR – Atlanta

7. Prove You Can Deliver The ROI

An influencer must not only be open to but should be able to prove the ROI they can deliver to an agency or brand. If you address this head-on and confidently, a company will be willing to invest in you and develop that partnership. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

8. Be Honest About Your Community

Don’t be something you’re not. Be open and honest about what works and doesn’t on your channels. What might not work for one campaign or brand partnership might work for another, so don’t try to be all things to all brands. And be open to collaboration — agencies can help. – Jackson Murphy, Pound & Grain

9. Have An Engaging Audience

If you engage with your audience regularly, you will get a better understanding of who they are and what they are into. From there, you need to fully represent that audience. Companies will see what your audience is and will partner with you based on the demographic you represent. Companies will also tailor their partnership to meet the demands your audience has. It will be a win-win. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing

10. Act Like A Business

To attract agencies and partnerships, an influencer needs to act like a business. It is not enough to have “followers.” Influencers must offer credibility and proof that they’ve helped other brands obtain actual ROI from their campaign work. They must quantify how their engagement has achieved results and provide thoughtful insights about their followers and past campaigns to prove their value. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group, INC

11. Target Brands That Match Your Influence

We see this all the time with restaurants hiring models with huge followers to be photographed in their establishment. The influence doesn’t work if the model doesn’t typically post food and beverage content. Their followers are typically looking for clothing and style influence and then boom, they see tacos and margaritas in the feed. Engagement and action is limited. No bueno. – Todd Maxwell, eMaximize

12. Have A Well-Defined Niche

A massive following is no longer enough to secure a brand partnership. A wide net of followers serves little purpose if they don’t interact with your content, so agencies today are putting a greater priority on smaller niche accounts with high engagement rates. Influencers should focus on tailoring niche content for an active audience in order to secure mutually beneficial brand partnerships. – Adam Binder, Creative Click Media

13. Post Quality Organic Content

Our greatest interest is whether the influencer will perform for our client. When we are looking at influencers, we look at the quality of content and the engagement of the influencer’s communities. We also make sure that every post is not a sponsored post. Too many branded partnerships start to dilute the messages from the influencer and it becomes less authentic. – Gina Michnowicz, The Craftsman Agency

14. Quantify Your Reach

Understand the potential reach of your audience. Companies need to know who you can reach, how much they engage around your content, and what traffic or impact your content can have. The more you can quantify your network into measurable outcomes the better. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group

15. Define Your Personal Brand

In order to attract agencies and companies for partnerships, it’s important for potential influencers to first define their personal brand (values, personality, tone, etc.) and consistently exhibit it through all online and offline channels. Agencies and companies can identify if the influencer aligns with their brand, giving them trust and confidence with that influencer. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

7 Smart Uses Of Influencer Marketing And Why They’re Effective

With the rise of social media influencers affecting marketing techniques, businesses are embracing this new facet of online business sales. Many modern-day businesses have simply evolved their marketing tactics from traditional to digital with ease. However, the introduction of influencer-based marketing introduces a very new technique to the discipline of getting an audience to purchase a product.

7_smart_uses_of_influencer_marketing_

However, one of the most egregious missteps that companies make when dealing with influencer marketing is not using it to its fullest potential. For influencer marketing, the keywords should be fun, organic and engaging. As such, a brand’s use of influencer marketing should focus on being memorable and unique without sacrificing the influencer’s genuine appeal. But how does a company achieve this while trying to market its brand?

These business leaders from Ad Age Collective understand all the nuances of influencer marketing for promoting a brand’s image. We consulted them about some of the most unique and effective uses of influencer marketing they’ve seen and what made them memorable. Here’s what they told us.

1. Connecting with subscribers in organic, fun ways.

In a crowded subscription box marketplace, FabFitFun stands out. The brand focuses its marketing budget on influencers, connecting these advocates with potential subscribers in organic, fun ways. As a result, it’s driven a 300 percent sales growth annually. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

2. Finding micro niche areas and owning them.

Influencer marketing has entered its next phase where brands must go beyond pay-to-play influences. Instead, brands like Buick went after “Pinfluencers.” Pinterest influencers were asked to create boards expressing their personality and lifestyle. One winner’s work would be used to design the next Encore model. The high-level connection with influencers resulted in a strong end-user connection. -Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Appearing out of context for a good reason.

The Foodgod’s Instagram account claims the influencer eats out 365 days a year! Not surprisingly, when he introduced fans to his new venture OceanBox — sustainable, restaurant-quality seafood to your door — it was a surprise to see him in his kitchen. The video, titled “Stay Home 20,” was both an introduction to OceanBox and a way to publicly encourage people to stay home to help flatten the curve. -Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

4. Winning hearts by being self-deprecating and self-referential.

Influencer endorsements have become par for the course for marketers. With distrust of messaging directly distributed from brands, it makes sense to turn to trusted sources. Enter Aviation Gin. Ryan Reynolds’s parody of the concept of endorsement-based advertising ironically makes it a very effective piece of influencer marketing. It’s ridiculous and we enjoy a brand that can recognize that. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Showing 100% commitment to breed unique competence.

Caulipower built a $100 million+ brand almost overnight using only influencer marketing and social media. Gail Becker, Caulipower’s founder, used many influencer marketing tactics, but what was unique was the total commitment to influencer marketing as the marketing strategy. Kylie Cosmetics is a similar story, though built off an existing brand. Commitment breeds unique competence. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

6. Enabling earned authenticity.

Budweiser’s TagWords video is a fantastic example of influencer marketing — it’s less of a $ponsor$hip (hijack) of opinion, and more of an attempt to capture an authentic choice by incredible music artists! Bravo Budweiser and bravo Africa (the agency) — you’ve earned it. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers

7. Creating genuine connection and trust.

Finding an influencer who is already a consumer and advocate of the product is key. Nick Offerman is a great example with being a fan of J-B Weld before he started working with the brand. The audience genuinely connects with Nick and his love of J-B Weld because it’s authentic. He’s a professional craftsman and woodworker, so the trust is there. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

An Instagram World With No ‘Likes’ — How Does the Test Impact Advertisers, Users?

Instagram made a big move. What’s the official motive behind testing a social media world with no “likes”?

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated in the announcement that the test in the U.S. and Canada was “about creating a less pressurized environment, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Hundreds of Likes

For all intents and purposes, Instagram’s latest power move has an alibi: The platform claims to be more concerned with the well-being of its users than with making a profit. Whether or not the company’s true motives are in line with reducing mental illness in its young users — including their stress, anxiety, and depression — the test has certainly changed the way the platform operates.

Diving into the many possible outcomes of this potential change is essential for marketers and Instagram users, alike, in order to best understand what to expect from the future of social media.

Whether positive or negative, the removal of likes has garnered opinions from the masses. Feelings toward the test range from anger to animosity to excitement. The fact of the matter is, likes have been a major catalyst in the way Instagram is used and success is measured, both personally and professionally. For brands utilizing influencers for promotion, likes have acted as a currency by showing how engaged an audience is, while effectively helping brands make decisions on whether or not an influencer should endorse their product or not. Without it, the marketplace will have to be optimized by these advertisers as they uncover what’s to come on the forefront of social media marketing.

Why Instagram Users Are Angry

It comes as no surprise that many of the users who are angry fall under the influencer and celebrity category. For many of them, Instagram likes have completely built their platforms as social media stars. Many of them uncovered the amount of engagement it took from early on and were able to build a fan base of loyal likers in order to gain enough clout to start being paid for promotions. It has been hypothesized by some influencers that Instagram doesn’t actually care at all about the well-being of its users. In fact, while its CEO claims the company “will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s health,” others are claiming that the test goes deeper than that, and is ultimately in favor of Instagram’s business: It has been hypothesized that this is being done as a means for control.

While influencers do have a home on Instagram, the brand deals and partnerships they forge on the platform do not currently have anything in them for InstagramThus, the removal of likes could make it so that marketers opt to spend their advertising dollars directly through Instagram, more heavily utilizing Instagram’s advertising tools. This begs the question(s): Why would they no longer go through influencers? Can they still get a feel for the overall engagement a user has? Unfortunately, because the metrics marketers rely on when selecting influencers will no longer be visible, it may become challenging to obtain real and true metrics, as these numbers can be easily manipulated if sent over from the source.

And frankly, for some losing likes simply means stripping down and removing their online social status, and they don’t like it. The measurement of likes acts as a symbol for popularity and fame, and many have expressed their dislike toward the change because of this. Removing likes will make it harder for users to determine if someone is cool simply by measurement, and understandably, for those for which Instagram has helped shape careers, this poses a threat to their success.

Why Instagram Users Are Excited

More obviously, many Instagram users are excited; particularly younger users and their parents. Having the platform to rely on for social status and humble brags has created uncharted territory in the adolescent social scene. Likes are the most obvious cool factor when looking at a user’s profile. For regular users who peruse Instagram as a social tool and not to create a business, the pressure to depend on likes as a means of validation, a measurement of self-worth, and a ranking of social status, could completely shift the way young users post. This feeling of “not being enough” if you don’t have the most likes in your social circle is exactly what Instagram claims to be tackling head-on with this test.

But this may not just be a positive change for common users; some influencers have actually expressed their excitement and support for the change, as well. As mentioned, Instagram has evolved over the years from a simple photo-sharing tool to a space where people are constantly trying to be the very best on the scene.

Many users claim that a major shift in the way Instagram was used happened when it changed the feed from chronological order to placing the most engaging posts at the top. The reason many influencers rose to where they were when this change occurred was because people genuinely enjoyed the creative energy they were putting into their profiles. When top-engaging posts were the first thing seen upon opening the app, influencers (and regular users, alike) had to evolve with the change, if they wanted to continue to get the attention they were used to. As a result, many sacrificed their own creativity by means of posting something less original that would guarantee high engagement.

For those who have felt the need to conform to the more popular style of posts, removing likes would mean they may no longer feel constricted or bound to posting things that are guaranteed to perform well (i.e. attract enough likes to deem them relevant enough for the top of the feed). This may allow for a more fruitful array of postings from influencers, celebrities, and young users of Instagram, bringing back into the picture a sense of creative freedom and self-worth.

What It All Means for Users and Marketers, Alike

Whether or not the test is here to stay, the statement it’s made so far has shaken many of its users, and most have an opinion. From regular users — particularly those in Generation Z — to influencers and celebrities, and brands that use Instagram as part of their sales funnel, the feelings of frustration and utter glee are certainly worth evaluating as Instagram chooses how to move forward.

7 Steps to Advertising to the Emerging Gen Z Consumer

Generation Z, the post-Millennial group of digital natives born after 1997 who have an insatiable desire for instant gratification and personalization in all aspects of their lives, is arguably the most unique generation to come. Advertising to the emerging Gen Z consumer is both as challenging and simple as it has ever been, which is an oxymoron in itself. But it perhaps explains the complexity of this 32% of the global population, which is edging out Millennials.Generation Z, the post-Millennial group of digital natives born after 1997 who have an insatiable desire for instant gratification and personalization in all aspects of their lives, is arguably the most unique generation to come. Advertising to the emerging Gen Z consumer is both as challenging and simple as it has ever been, which is an oxymoron in itself. But it perhaps explains the complexity of this 32% of the global population, which is edging out Millennials. Before we get into methods for marketing to Gen Z, it’s important to understand who this generation is and the qualities that make them unique. Generation Z has never lived in a world without the web. The Internet has always existed for Gen Z; though it has evolved into an entire entity in the last decade or so, life without an online presence is but a vague and distant memory to them. In this day and age, 96% of Generation Z members own a smartphone and, on average, they spend more than three hours a day perusing their devices. Social media is the beast that lies within these smartphones and has proven to be a powerful tool highly utilized by this generation. For some, reaching Generation Z may seem difficult for this very reason — from the outside in, they are seemingly out of touch with the real world. For advertisers, however, it has made Gen Z more reachable than any preceding generation. Making a connection has a whole new meaning in advertising, due to the realm of social media and smartphones. Here are best practices on how to reach and engage with the Gen Z audience: Reaching the Gen Z Audience While Gen Zers have earned a reputation as arduous customers, there are various methods advertisers can tap into to successfully sell their brands/products to this tenacious bunch. As a well-informed and arguably opinionated generation, they generally respond well to brands that earn their loyalty as customers. This is unique to Gen Z, as other generations have typically chosen what they consume based on tradition. And just how can advertisers earn their loyalty? Sell the all-encompassing brand and its story to give it a sense of relatability. Authenticity When determining how to best reach this demographic, one word should be kept top of mind: authenticity. Research shows that 63% of Generation Z want marketing from “real” people, as opposed to celebrity endorsers. I put “real” in quotation marks, because this category does not stop at trusted friends and family of Gen Zers. A trusted source or friend can be found anywhere from an inner circle to their favorite social media influencers and bloggers. Influencer marketing has proven successful with this generation, because hearing about a product from an average, everyday person (with 10,000-plus social media followers, that is) resonates more deeply with Gen Z than seeing a high-profile celebrity endorse everyday items. Influencers Influencers are more trusted by Generation Z because they don’t seem like they’re trying to persuade; rather, they’re just filling their audience in on something they enjoy. In turn, influencer marketing does not feel like corporate manipulation. Furthermore, their followers are just that: people who follow and are invested in their lives. They are already sold on the person, which makes it easy to trust their opinion. Keep Reaching Out/Retargeting Online retargeting is key in engaging this generation and staying top of mind. Once Gen Zers begin researching a brand, it is vital to remain relevant to them, and retargeting is one of the best ways to do so. It is an easy way to take them through the buying process, so they end up as loyal brand advocates. As a generation obsessed with fast-paced, instantaneous moments, it can be easy to forget about something if it’s not reinforced. Retargeting — by means of social media and banner and display ads — is paramount to success with Gen Zers. With the power of online retargeting, however, it is important to put a cap on the frequency, as to not fatigue the potential buyers. If a member of this group sees an ad too frequently, it can wind up in lost interest. They may feel it is being pushed too hard on them — which is quite the opposite of feeling authentic and caring. Authentic Reviews Online reviews are another important factor when Generation Z considers a product. Creating a space where they can hear from people of a similar background in a written or spoken testimonial to the product can make all the difference. Reviews get customers involved and allow their voices to be heard, tying in an element of personalization. In order to receive genuinely positive and highly regarded reviews from Gen Z, it’s important a company is honest, maintains the quality it guarantees, and makes them feel special throughout the process. They don’t want to be considered another number; rather, they’d like to feel included and impactful. Corporate Social Responsibility Generation Z also cares deeply about brands that have a positive social or environmental impact. It is of the utmost importance for a brand to come across as one that cares — in all aspects. Though Gen Z can seem like they lack character or substance, because they spend so much time disconnected from the world around them, this group actually has a tendency to express their values online and want to vocalize those beliefs. Therefore, they appreciate when a company does the same. Voicing inclusivity, social justice, and sustainability can majorly impact a Gen Z target while they determine whether a brand is worthy of their purchase. Typically, members of this generation look at a brand from a holistic standpoint before deciding to become a customer or not. This is why a company’s social media presence is one of the most important upkeeps. Serving as a place to express oneself, it’s the prime method to communicate a brand’s the progressive values. Engagement Ultimately, the best way to engage with Gen Z and make them purchase is to foster a connection that does not feel contrived. They love realness above all and prefer that a company is upfront with what it has to offer and what it values holistically. With technology at the tips of their fingers, Gen Z members have almost always done their research before purchasing. This is why marketing to them is more crucial than ever: the way a brand portrays itself online and the decisions it makes can make or break its profitability. Advertising geared toward Gen Z should always pique their interest and keep that interest alive until they decide it’s time to buy. The initial point of contact in getting this audience’s attention will push them to look further into a brand to ensure it’s something they’re interested in putting their money toward. As such, it is vital to a company’s success to maintain strong marketing and advertising tactics — from start to finish, throughout the buying process. Brands: Show You Care About Gen Z The bottom line of advertising to the Generation Z audience is that you should always sell the brand as one that cares not only about its own success, but also about the success and ultimate happiness of its customers. Maintaining happy customers, at the end of the day, is the main driving force behind the success of any Gen Z-focused company.

Before we get into methods for marketing to Gen Z, it’s important to understand who this generation is and the qualities that make them unique. Generation Z has never lived in a world without the web. The Internet has always existed for Gen Z; though it has evolved into an entire entity in the last decade or so, life without an online presence is but a vague and distant memory to them. In this day and age, 96% of Generation Z members own a smartphone and, on average, they spend more than three hours a day perusing their devices. Social media is the beast that lies within these smartphones and has proven to be a powerful tool highly utilized by this generation.

For some, reaching Generation Z may seem difficult for this very reason — from the outside in, they are seemingly out of touch with the real world. For advertisers, however, it has made Gen Z more reachable than any preceding generation. Making a connection has a whole new meaning in advertising, due to the realm of social media and smartphones. Here are best practices on how to reach and engage with the Gen Z audience:

Reaching the Gen Z Audience

While Gen Zers have earned a reputation as arduous customers, there are various methods advertisers can tap into to successfully sell their brands/products to this tenacious bunch. As a well-informed and arguably opinionated generation, they generally respond well to brands that earn their loyalty as customers. This is unique to Gen Z, as other generations have typically chosen what they consume based on tradition. And just how can advertisers earn their loyalty? Sell the all-encompassing brand and its story to give it a sense of relatability.

Authenticity

When determining how to best reach this demographic, one word should be kept top of mind: authenticity. Research shows that 63% of Generation Z want marketing from “real” people, as opposed to celebrity endorsers. I put “real” in quotation marks, because this category does not stop at trusted friends and family of Gen Zers. A trusted source or friend can be found anywhere from an inner circle to their favorite social media influencers and bloggers. Influencer marketing has proven successful with this generation, because hearing about a product from an average, everyday person (with 10,000-plus social media followers, that is) resonates more deeply with Gen Z than seeing a high-profile celebrity endorse everyday items.

Influencers

Influencers are more trusted by Generation Z because they don’t seem like they’re trying to persuade; rather, they’re just filling their audience in on something they enjoy. In turn, influencer marketing does not feel like corporate manipulation. Furthermore, their followers are just that: people who follow and are invested in their lives. They are already sold on the person, which makes it easy to trust their opinion.

Keep Reaching Out/Retargeting

Online retargeting is key in engaging this generation and staying top of mind. Once Gen Zers begin researching a brand, it is vital to remain relevant to them, and retargeting is one of the best ways to do so. It is an easy way to take them through the buying process, so they end up as loyal brand advocates. As a generation obsessed with fast-paced, instantaneous moments, it can be easy to forget about something if it’s not reinforced. Retargeting — by means of social media and banner and display ads — is paramount to success with Gen Zers.

With the power of online retargeting, however, it is important to put a cap on the frequency, as to not fatigue the potential buyers. If a member of this group sees an ad too frequently, it can wind up in lost interest. They may feel it is being pushed too hard on them — which is quite the opposite of feeling authentic and caring.

Authentic Reviews

Online reviews are another important factor when Generation Z considers a product. Creating a space where they can hear from people of a similar background in a written or spoken testimonial to the product can make all the difference. Reviews get customers involved and allow their voices to be heard, tying in an element of personalization. In order to receive genuinely positive and highly regarded reviews from Gen Z, it’s important a company is honest, maintains the quality it guarantees, and makes them feel special throughout the process. They don’t want to be considered another number; rather, they’d like to feel included and impactful.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Generation Z also cares deeply about brands that have a positive social or environmental impact. It is of the utmost importance for a brand to come across as one that cares — in all aspects. Though Gen Z can seem like they lack character or substance, because they spend so much time disconnected from the world around them, this group actually has a tendency to express their values online and want to vocalize those beliefs. Therefore, they appreciate when a company does the same. Voicing inclusivity, social justice, and sustainability can majorly impact a Gen Z target while they determine whether a brand is worthy of their purchase. Typically, members of this generation look at a brand from a holistic standpoint before deciding to become a customer or not. This is why a company’s social media presence is one of the most important upkeeps. Serving as a place to express oneself, it’s the prime method to communicate a brand’s progressive values.

Engagement

Ultimately, the best way to engage with Gen Z and make them purchase is to foster a connection that does not feel contrived. They love realness above all and prefer that a company is upfront with what it has to offer and what it values holistically. With technology at the tips of their fingers, Gen Z members have almost always done their research before purchasing. This is why marketing to them is more crucial than ever: the way a brand portrays itself online and the decisions it makes can make or break its profitability. Advertising geared toward Gen Z should always pique their interest and keep that interest alive until they decide it’s time to buy. The initial point of contact in getting this audience’s attention will push them to look further into a brand to ensure it’s something they’re interested in putting their money toward. As such, it is vital to a company’s success to maintain strong marketing and advertising tactics — from start to finish, throughout the buying process.

Brands: Show You Care About Gen Z

The bottom line of advertising to the Generation Z audience is that you should always sell the brand as one that cares not only about its own success, but also about the success and ultimate happiness of its customers. Maintaining happy customers, at the end of the day, is the main driving force behind the success of any Gen Z-focused company.

15 Challenges Marketers Faced In 2018 (And What They Learned)

Forbes 15 Challenges

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: January 28, 2019

The marketing landscape is ever-changing, and it can be difficult to keep up. Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, there are always new trends emerging and and methods evolving.

Those who continue learning and growing will never fall too far behind, but that doesn’t mean they won’t face obstacles along the way. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council share the biggest industry challenges they’ve faced this past year and how they plan to use that knowledge moving forward.

Forbes 15 Challenges

1. A Changing Corporate Climate

The biggest challenge as a marketing agency that has developed over the past year is watching as corporate positions fill up the digital marketing organization spaces that we dominated as agencies in the previous decade. We believe the opportunity that we’ve had in the past five years will be gone. Rather than fighting this change, we are positioning our firm to assist digital officers as a resource. – Evangeline Sutton, Regenerative Marketing LLC

2. The Impact Of Influencers

We have worked with journalists who were bound by the ethics of journalism to tell both sides of a story for nearly 30 years. Now we are working with influencers with large audiences on social media. The problem in evaluating influencers is who they are being paid by, whether they expect to be paid by our clients and what the deliverables will be if they share our clients’ stories and photos. – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications

3. Greater Demand For Personalization

The desire for brands to get more personal in communications continues to grow and presents new challenges. In our business, where email marketing is a big part of what we do, we plan to facilitate more personalization through partnerships with companies such as Conversica, which offers an AI attendant that assists in engaging, qualifying and converting more leads for our clients. – Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

4. Maintaining Our Buying Power

We made many systematic changes in 2018 to welcome industry changes. In the planning stages, we updated our systems and training materials. We didn’t, however, fully prepare for the level of attention required to regulate our relationships with suppliers as we grow. When picking suppliers, we learned to check for cues that can help us identify those who can grow and meet our changing priorities. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

5. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR was a big industry growing pain; however, having the operations and processes in place to adhere to this regulation make the California Consumer Privacy Act less daunting. It has also opened up a healthy dialog about data, privacy and useful customization across a variety of sectors. – Kieley Taylor, GroupM

6. Standing Out From Our Competitors

Our industry is legal marketing and website design. In our area, we have seen lots of competition come into the market. We plan to face this challenge by producing more educational documents and continuing to set our firm out as industry thought leaders. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

7. Balancing Personalization With Data Privacy

Creating a truly personalized experience while adhering to data privacy and industry regulations proves to be a challenge, like trying to hit a moving target. As we go forward we will be leveraging journey orchestration technology to deliver more relevant customer experiences and a deeper level of personalization than ever before, treating privacy laws as an opportunity to build trust along the way. – Justin Grossman, meltmedia

8. Facebook’s Sponsored Content Changes

At the start of 2018 Facebook once again changed their rules on sponsored content, dramatically shifting how we did business for our clients. We pivoted and ended up with a solution that is exceeding results from before the change. While we’re thrilled with this outcome, we know that we will need to continue to be agile when it comes to 2019, as major platform updates seem to be the new normal. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

9. Educating Clients On New Trends

Influencers have become our clients’ nirvana, even though they most often don’t understand how this new “species” works. We have been educating them and pondering their expectations so they know what they can get and how, and what the difference is between an editor, a blogger and an influencer. Parts of our request for proposal now will be dedicated to some education about it. – Sarah Hamon, S2H Communication

10. Addressing The Industry’s Fraud Issue

Transparency continues to be a critical need as the advertising industry recovers from digital ad fraud. We’re heading off potential distrust from clients by being up front about our commitment to fostering an ethical culture at our agency. After applying for and winning an Integrity award from the Better Business Bureau, we now have an independent third party confirming that commitment. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

11. Keeping Up With Emerging Platforms

One of the biggest issues out there is making sure that we know about all of the most recent changes to platforms and to content that needs to be made and consumed. One of the most important things is finding the right content and the right platform. That means that it is very important to ensure that you are using the right platform for the right age group that you are working with. – Jon James, Ignited Results

12. Casting A Wider Net

In 2018, we found that the long-term retainer model didn’t work well for certain smaller startup clients, so we developed a project-based program to allow younger brands to experience our services without committing to a long-term relationship. The program has proven a great success and has given companies the opportunity to achieve public relations and social media goals without an ongoing commitment. – Leslie Licano, Beyond Fifteen Communications Inc.

13. Collecting And Analyzing Data

The amount of data continues to expand exponentially. Programming technology and analytics with a machine learning/artificial intelligence component is and will continue to be key because it will become too much for humans to process in a timely or cost-effective way. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

14. Ensuring Consumer Data Safety And Privacy

Changes in privacy regulations such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are impacting how marketing is done. Consumers expect to know what data is collected and to be able to choose what solutions can and can’t collect their data. Marketers must now be diligent at ensuring safety and giving customers the privacy they deserve while delivering meaningful and optimal customer experience. – Alex Yastrebenetsky, InfoTrust

15. Finding The Right Media Tracking Tools

Our media team did a complete analysis of all optimization and tracking tools on the market to confirm best-in-category practices and results. It was an important, but time-consuming, process. We found some brand-new assets in some niche pockets that will help our clients even more. We now need to tell that story in the year ahead in a simple way without giving away the store up front. – Sean Looney, Looney Advertising & Branding