Marketers want more control: Insights from the Digiday Brand Summit

Marketers want control. Brands big and small are building out in-house teams to manage marketing and working with agencies as needed on a project-basis. At the same time, they’re looking for newer channels to reach consumers as it’s no longer feasible to depend on Facebook and Instagram ads to break through the clutter. At the Digiday Brand Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona this week, marketers gathered to talk about how to manage taking back control and share which channels are working, among other issues.

Texting works — but only for promotions.
As Facebook and Instagram ads become more expensive and platforms are more saturated with advertising, brands are looking for other channels to reach consumers. The use of text messages to do so is becoming more popular — as previously reported by our sister site, Modern Retail — and that was a big focus for marketers.

  • As one brand marketer put it, “Open rate and conversion rate for SMS messaging far succeeded my expectations. People ignore email but they always open a text.”
  • Texting should be used for just that, text. Adding imagery to texting — which is more expensive — doesn’t help with conversion rates. Consumers prefer to texts that are simply text.
  • One of the biggest challenges with texting is managing the frequency with which to contact consumers via text and what to use it for. For one marketer, texting works well when running promotional deals but if texted otherwise consumers will unsubscribe.
  • It’s still too expensive of a channel to be used all the time as marketers will pay for each text.

The bottom line: Texting is hot but it should be used sparingly.

Be upfront with your agencies about in-housing.
Marketers large and small run in-house teams. Doing so comes not only from a need to be more agile as well as a desire to have more consumer data.

  • Figuring out the size of that in-house team takes time and brands often need to keep working with agencies in the interim or contract them for projects when the in-house team is maxxed out. Marketers say that’s it’s crucial to be upfront with agencies about the move in-house rather than trying to hide it otherwise it’s a tricky situation.
  • Andie Swim founder and CEO Melanie Travis shared that the company has in-housed all marketing capabilities. She also shared that the company had previously run its customer service communications externally but found that doing so didn’t fit with the brand voice and that once the company moved those services in-house it has seen tremendous growth.
  • “If you want to take something in-house, it takes a lot of work and eventually you’re going to need the amount of headcount you have at your agency, but it’s going to be under your control. The relationship with our agency will get tougher toward the end [when we’ve in-housed everything],” said one marketer during a town hall.

The bottom line: Brands still want more control and are in-housing to do it but it’s not as simple as just leaving your agency.

Getting more data from influencers.
As Instagram, the primary channel with which brands use influencers, implements its plan to take away likes marketers are working to get more data from influencers to verify that it’s worth spending dollars with them.

  • While the end of likes will mean more work — you can’t just check likes — marketers say that it will hold influencers more accountable and that likes were a “vanity metric” anyway.
  • Choosing influencers might be more difficult once likes are gone as marketers will need to have more nuanced conversations about what those influencers can offer the brands.
  • Getting analytics from influencers will also require a deeper relationship with influencers and that could prove time-consuming.

The bottom line: As likes go away the influencer relationship will undergo a shift but marketers believe it’ll be a positive for the industry.

Speaker Highlights
Ben Conniff, co-founder and CMO of Luke’s Lobster, shared the challenges the brand has faced in communicating its brand purpose with consumers.

  • Luke’s Lobster works with fishermen to be environmentally friendly and sustainable but telling consumers that story through copy didn’t work.
  • Instead, sharing that message through images and strategic partnership promotions got through to consumers.
  • Previously, the message was too focused on fisherman. When the company broadened the purpose to be more clearly about climate change, pollution and economic equity and opportunity, that’s when consumers really cared.

The bottom line: Show, don’t tell and make sure the brand purpose is authentic without being too niche, make it something consumers can relate to and understand.

Hero Beauty’s Rachel Finley schooled attendees on TikTok, sharing the success the brand has seen since working with influencers on the platform and how it is now a crucial part of the company’s customer acquisition strategy.

  • Finley shared a case study to prove the viability of TikTok. In July, a TikTok campaign reached 4.3 million viewers for $1,600  compared to 147,000 on Instagram Stories for $8,000.
  • In another campaign example, Finley showed that return on ad spend on TikTok for the brand was 3.12 times compared to 0.76 times on Instagram Stories.
  • TikTok now accounts for 17% of Hero Beauty’s online sales, according to a post attribution survey. Over the past two months, Hero Beauty has doubled what it is spending on influencers on the platform and it plans to continue to increase that in 2020.
  • TikTok won’t work for every brand. The success will likely be for brands aiming to reach Gen-Z consumers.

The bottom line: TikTok is cheap and not over-saturated by brands yet making it easier to stand out.

LipLove founder Latrice Love made the case that inclusivity isn’t an option but a must-do.

  • Brands need a “multicultural mindset” and fast, according to Love, as the majority of the U.S. population will soon be multicultural.
  • The buying power is already there. Total income after taxes for minorities in the U.S. is $3.9 trillion, per the 2018 Multicultural Economy Report.
  • Love had three lessons for brands. First, don’t culturally appropriate. Second, be honest with consumers and do research to see how your brand could better serve minority consumers. Third, use social media and be transparent about what you don’t know.

The bottom line: Don’t think of diversity and inclusion as the latest fad.

“There are very few people with brand in their title but brand is everybody’s problem.”

“A lot of brands now rely too heavily on social. They say, ‘Oh, we’ll just put it on social’.”

“Facebook and Instagram are so saturated with ads.”

Whatever you do [in-house or agency], you get the best work when you’re working with a team who will tell you no or that your idea is bad. Sometimes bigger corporations need an agency to step in to tell them that something is a bad idea, that they don’t have the pulse on culture.” 

The hardest part of maintaining the brand in the growth of your team is managing your employees at every stage. It’s really tough to hear everybody out and stay focused on your brand’s purpose and drive.” 

“We’ve have segmented out our channels. I handle digital. We have a separate social team, so I don’t touch social at all. A lot of times, we can find ourselves being really siloed and we’re not cross-promoting. Or we’re doing double the work that we all need to be doing. We also have an in-house creative team and outsource with an agency so there’s definitely duplication of the work happening.”

“Agency-of-record retainers are so high, and if you’re a small brand, you can’t support it. It’s much more cost-effective to do a big project when you need someone to give a strategic vision or define the look and feel and then have someone junior or in-house do the execution.”

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