May 25, 2022

The 3 Biggest Challenges to Marketing in the Metaverse

Executives and entrepreneurs should be taking the metaverse's wide-open, nearly limitless marketing possibilities very seriously. Here are several of the most significant challenges companies are facing as they brave this digital terra incognita.

Marketing in the metaverse is like setting up a website in the earliest days of the internet, or hanging up a dusty wooden shingle in the 19th century Old West. It can be extremely difficult to know how much time and resources to invest in a venture that is highly experimental in nature and far from guaranteed to yield financial success or meet many other key performance indicators (KPIs).

That's how the current conventional wisdom might have it, at least, exhorting people to practice caution and circumspection over something so nascent, so unproven, so forbiddingly opaque (at least to some).

The reality, however, is that mid-size and large companies with an interest in establishing a long-lasting relationship with the younger half of the millennial generation and Gen Z really shouldn't be thinking about marketing in the metaverse as a hypothetical to wring their hands and hem and haw over.

As Facebook's massive rebrand and $10 billion investment in its own metaverse attest — among other large, blaring indicators — many of the keenest, most powerful minds in technology are betting that this is not some passing fancy or pandemic-fueled phenomenon but rather the natural evolution of the internet itself. Because of that, executives and entrepreneurs should be taking its wide-open, nearly limitless marketing possibilities very seriously. Below are several of the most significant challenges I see companies facing as they start to brave this digital terra incognita.

1. Deciding which metaverse to market in

The first challenge is also the most obvious one. Despite popular misconceptions, the metaverse is not a single place. Rather, it's an ecosystem of immersive virtual worlds that are all competing to host users, events, play-to-earn games and everything else that makes these platforms such exciting alternatives and complements to physical reality. There are currently several major players in the space, including Decentraland, Sandbox and Roblox. Prospective advertisers should study each of these platforms and develop a working knowledge of their respective demographics, land costs, growth opportunities and monthly users before deciding where to target their meta-marketing push.

Roblox, for example, generally caters to a younger demographic, and companies should be aware that spending advertising dollars in that particular metaverse will be going toward exposure to tweens, teens and early twentysomethings. Decentraland, on the other hand, is positioning itself as a platform for adults interested in major, inimitable events like the Metaverse Fashion Week it held in late March.

Over time, the distinctions between these platforms will probably only increase, making it even more imperative that companies do their due diligence in choosing their virtual landing spots.

2. Understanding the means of engagement

This is perhaps the trickiest and most important challenge companies and advertising firms currently face when approaching and interfacing with the metaverse. The logic and logistics of marketing in places like Decentraland and Sandbox are dramatically different than they are in the physical world, and the gap can be explained in these simple, concise terms: Metaverse users want an authentic experience.

This is not the world of billboards, commercials, print advertisements and banner ads. That era of marketing, which is still very much with us, did not try to disguise their advertisements as anything other than unambiguous attempts at attracting your eye and getting your business.

But the world of marketing in the metaverse is different, less about one-dimensional showcases for your product than the creation of imaginative, highly-interactive, three-dimensional experiences. Let's take a particularly germane example: Gucci Garden.

In May 2021, the Italian fashion label hosted a two-week virtual space on the Roblox metaverse platform. As they entered Gucci Garden, Roblox users transformed into naked, faceless mannequins. Going through each room in the exhibition space, which featured courtyards, garden parties, subways and other "levels" reminiscent of traditional video games, the mannequins gradually absorb features of their surroundings.

By the end of the experience — which also included hidden items like dresses and sunglasses that users could buy with Robux — your temporary mannequin avatar is festooned with vibrant colors and patterns that reflect the experience of traveling through Gucci’s strange and occasionally enchanting venue.

While Gucci Garden is by no means some kind of dazzling adventure with resplendent graphics and thrilling gameplay, it is a relatively impressive example of how companies can treat metaverse users to a living, breathing event that is far more dynamic than traditional marketing techniques.

Marketing in the metaverse means launching auctions, opening exhibitions, hosting parties and generally giving users and their avatars something intriguing and unprecedented that they've never seen before. Whatever industry you're in or products you're looking to elevate, conceiving of something like that will prove to be a significant but wholly worthwhile task.

3. Gauging performance

KPIs include everything from financial measurements like net profit, revenue and sales to customer-focused metrics like customer retention and satisfaction. Suffice it to say, marketing in the metaverse is not going to lend itself to many of these KPIs at this point in the ongoing evolution of these infant platforms. Instead, companies and their executives should be focused on one measurement above all others: engagement. The more users companies are able to engage and entertain through their marketing experiences, the more successful the venture should be deemed.

While a KPI like "clickthroughs" to your Web2 website may eventually become an important measuring stick, right now it's enough to succeed at the level of brand awareness in these virtual worlds. In several years, when millions of people will be congregating in Sandbox, Decentraland and Meta's forthcoming metaverse Juggernaut, the companies that have been diligently cultivating engagement for the longest will be in an excellent position to start introducing a trove of other KPIs.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

November 16, 2021

8 Ways That Brands Can Utilize TikTok in Their Marketing

With TikTok on the rise, many are now scrambling in their respective app stores and looking to download the trending app in order to learn what all the fuss is about - and for marketers, whether they can use it to promote their products.

I hate to admit, but I’m among the former, and it wasn’t until just recently that I began looking at it from a brand perspective (as opposed to lamenting the fact that everyone can sing and dance except me).

Aside from its clear youth appeal, TikTok provides a growing range of ad options, and is taking extra measures to educate its users on how to safely use the platform.

Are you thinking about adding TikTok into your digital marketing mix? Then read on to learn more about the short video app.

What is TikTok?

TikTok, similar to Vine before is, is all about short videos.

Most of the app's former users simply uploaded videos of themselves lip-synching to music videos, while the more talented, enthusiastic, and technically proficient members uploaded videos of original content. The latter cohort went on to become influencers on the platform. 

multiple clips together for up to 60 seconds of total recording. Users are also able to upload longer videos which have been recorded outside the app itself.

There's also a live-streaming option and a range of filters and tools to help improve your video presentation.

The app is attuned to modern usage trends, and caters to an audience looking for a new and exciting way to connect. And clearly, based on the download stats, it's hitting the right notes with users. 

How Can Brands & Marketers Make the Most of TikTok?

Using TikTok for marketing is actually much simpler than you'd think.

There are currently three key options for brands looking to utilize TikTok for promotion:

  1. Create your brands' own channel and upload videos relevant to your business
  2. Utilize influencers to open your content to a much broader (but well-targeted) audience
  3. Pay to advertise utilizing TikTok’s new campaign options (though, personally, I’d recommend holding off on this until the market is a bit more established)

We’re full of fun and creative ideas for marketing on TikTok. Here are a few that we hope you can use or draw inspiration from:

  • In a world where consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of ads, the raw, unedited videos on TikTok can be a great way to showcase people using your brand in their everyday lives. 
  • TikTok videos can also be a great place to showcase business behind the scenes or in-the-moment content - for example:
    • Human Resources can make trainings more interactive by going live on TikTok to conduct their sessions
    • Landing pages can have you popping on to drive traffic to lead magnets
    • With such a young demographic, TikTok can be great for higher ed marketers and students within colleges and universities.  There’s already a lot of content to be found on campus - sports, BTS, dance marathons, these all do well.
    • Boutiques can use TikTok for the ever-popular try-on videos - you can film a whole seasons worth of sales in a fun sped up video and you can even add your own hype music
    • Of course, larger clothing brands also see almost immediate success as well. Last fall, Guess was the first brand TikTok collaborated with in the US for its #inmydenim campaign
    • Does your product require assembly? User-friendly step by step videos can be produced on TikTok, and even linked to on your packaging.
    • Restaurants also have significant opportunities. Chipotle was the first major chain to jump onto the platform, and it recently launched its second major TikTok campaign with the #GuacDance challenge, which encouraged fans to show off their avocado-themed dance moves inspired by Dr. Jean’s “Guacamole Song.” 
    • #HashtagChallenges are great because they prompt engagement. They’re simple to join in and fun. If you’re not yet a well-established brand, you can also consider using influencers to help kickstart your challenge campaign.

As a marketer - but also as someone who is heavily influenced by marketing AND as someone that regularly writes on social media trends, I like to test new marketing channels and ideas. Generally, if there's something that's growing fast, I'll do a 1-3-month test before writing or publicly speaking on it.

In my time with TikTok thus far, I've seen promise, and an opportunity to connect with audiences in new, fun and engaging ways. 

It still has a way to go yet before it becomes a key channel, but it may well be worth considering for your 2020 campaigns. 

Written by: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan See full article here

November 12, 2021

6 Marketing Trends to Prepare For in 2022


6 Marketing Trends to Prepare For in 2022

Marketers face a landscape disrupted by a pandemic, new business models, new applications of tech, and the fallout of regulatory changes.

You can't go through something like a yearlong (and counting) global pandemic and not expect some things to change. Then again, marketers and change aren't exactly strangers. Marketing professionals have always lived in a world where consumers' preferences are constantly evolving and they are forced to adapt. In the past year, marketers have done so in spades, rolling with the abrupt suspension of in-person events, a massive shift toward digital marketing, and -- for many -- reduced budgets. 

As the economic recovery gains momentum, many marketers will likely find themselves with more dollars to spend. But how and where should they spend them? Will people be yearning for a return to the old normal or continue to embrace the habits they developed over the past year? What messaging will resonate and which channels will reach the post-pandemic consumer?

As the marketing gaze turns futureward, here are some trends to look for in 2022.

1. The Future of Events Will Be Hybrid

When the pandemic forced closures and social distancing requirements, marketers faced the cancellation of all manner of in-person events, from store grand openings to big-ticket concert series. In their place, virtual events became a mainstay for engaging with customers and leads. Increased spending on social media and other digital platforms helped make these events successful. Now consumers -- and the marketers who pitch to them -- face two warring impulses. The urge to gather again is strong, for sure. But having experienced the immediacy of live events from the comfort of their couches, many consumers are happy to keep things virtual. To cater to both audiences, you'll need to craft hybrid events. In-person events will have a strong digital component, and technologies like AR and VR can create an immersive experience for those who prefer not to venture out.

2. Content Alignment Will Never Be More Important

Any company that wants to own its industry will need to align its PR, thought leadership, and SEO. Consider this thought leadership Venn diagram, which shows the importance of overlapping visibility, credibility, and authority. If you can align these things, you can easily stand out in your industry. 

That means you need to have some source content on your website and other things you own like social or sister sites. Once you get a solid base of authority on different topics, then work to gain added credibility by adding the PR element, where others are quoting or mentioning your content. Finally, make sure that people are linking to your content under certain topics that you can own ... which hints at my next point. 

3. Marketing Companies Will Take More Ownership

I'm seeing more sales and marketing companies take ownership in the products or services they help sell. This shift makes sense to me, because if you are able to sell somebody's product and bring in significant revenue, you will ultimately increase the value of that company. If you have an ownership stake, you'll be even more motivated to knock it out of the park. It's hugely beneficial on both sides. 

If you are in marketing and sales, start looking first at what products and services will benefit from your services. Then identify which of those companies will allow you to put performance metrics in place to gain some ownership as you meet those goals. For example, TechCrunch recently reported on an outsourced CMO firm that created its own venture firm to invest in companies that can benefit from the firm's resources. 

4. Engaging Nonprofits Will Be a Big Part of Marketing Plans

More and more, consumers are looking to support companies that have a mission or give back in some way. This trend is only going to increase, and a well-rounded marketing plan should take part in this development by partnering with nonprofits. This partnership opportunity has the potential to not only grow your business, but also align you with philanthropic missions that are important to you. 

Expanding your brand and reach while engaging in advocacy for a nonprofit is a win-win. However, your marketing plan shouldn't end at simply expressing support for a charitable organization. It should include effective goals such as product placement, affiliate marketing, percentage of sales donations, or corporate sponsorship. According to nonprofit executive coach Mallory Erickson, these types of partnerships can help you reach a new audience around the globe. 

5. A.I. Will Make Influencer Marketing Easier and More Results-Driven

The death of influencer marketing, while often predicted, has yet to occur. Valued at $9.7 billion in 2020, the market is estimated to reach $15 billion by 2022, with a near majority of marketers reporting they budget more than 20 percent of their spend on influencer content. Not that influencer marketing hasn't changed over the years -- the recent shift toward micro-influencers and their more highly engaged audiences being one example.

The next shift will be the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence. You can leverage the technology for everything from influencer identification (A.I. can watch and assess millions of influencer videos in ways a human can't) to performance influencer marketing. In this model, powered by predictive A.I., you pay only for the conversions and sales influencers produce. ROI is practically assured.

6. Marketers Will Find Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies

With Google's recent announcement, another predicted death -- that of the third-party cookie -- has been postponed (until 2023). But while the delay means that marketers' need to wean themselves from 3P-cookies-based targeting strategies has become slightly less urgent, it is no less critical. Consumers are demanding greater privacy protections and control over their data, and marketers will need to adjust. 

You could begin by increasing your efforts to gather and fully exploit first-party data -- after all, first-party cookies aren't going anywhere. Or you can use tools like Google's Privacy Sandbox or FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) to achieve personalization and consumer targeting without intruding on user privacy. Regardless, CRM tools, surveys, and interactive content will become increasingly instrumental to marketing success. 

As brands vie for consumer attention in these still uncertain times, marketers will find themselves in a familiar role: change agent. By taking these six trends into account, you'll be able to stay ahead of the curve. 


@JOHNHALL View article here

May 3, 2021

How To Build A Digital Marketing Strategy For Businesses Targeting Growth In 2021

 2020 was a very challenging year for everyone, with Covid-19 causing the global economy to plummet. As a result, brick-and-mortar companies and businesses with a limited online presence had to seriously consider their digital marketing strategy. 

However, many businesses jumped on the bandwagon without carefully planning out their strategy. So, they ended up blowing their budget on driving traffic through ads without first building a solid foundation—an optimized website.

Now is the time, more than ever, to master your digital marketing strategy to get your business in front of more eyes. But strap yourself in for a journey rather than a two-stop trip—digital marketing is not a one-off effort, but rather an ongoing objective that needs daily monitoring. 

So, what steps should you take to get your digital marketing campaign off the ground?  

1. Highly Optimized, Mobile-Friendly, Scalable Online Environment 

I could've simply said that you need a website, but what you need is an online environment that is secure, has a clear structure and works fast.

Here are three vitally important things any modern website needs: 

• Speed: Create a clear site structure so that people can quickly find what they need. And with Google confirming that Core Web Vitals will be ranking signals in May 2021, you must pay extra attention to how users experience the speed, responsiveness and visual stability of your site's pages.

• Mobile-Friendliness: Desktop searches fell behind mobile back in 2017, with over 55% of global web traffic now falling on mobile devices. Moreover, mobile is no longer a growing trend, but the norm, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. If your website isn't optimized for mobile, don't even think about going online. 

• Security: Web security is critical in preventing hackers and cyber-thieves from getting access to sensitive data, including that of your users. Without a proactive security strategy and an HTTPS connection, businesses risk the development of malware attacks and attacks on other sites, networks and so on. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) isn't easy, but it's essential when it comes to digital marketing. Don't think that a set-it-and-forget-it approach will work here. You need to be consistent so that potential customers can always find your website for relevant searches.

2. Get On Google My Business

Another way to help customers find you is through Google My Business (GMB). 

Google My Business puts your details where potential customers can find them more easily. It also puts your business on Google Maps where it can be reviewed. This can also ensure your business is ranking on the map alongside other similar businesses, giving you a massive boost in visibility, thanks to the Google Local Pack. Optimizing a GMB account is trickier than it looks to begin with. But there are plenty of sources online that provide extensive guides on this topic.

3. Social Media Profiles And Activity 

Besides being on Google, you need to actively engage your audience on social media. Think of the difference between eating at a chain restaurant or at a small local one. You never see chefs at restaurant chains, but at your local diner, if a chef talks to you, you find out more about the place and the ingredients used, and unless the food's awful, you're likely to spread the word and go back. As a small business, this is the approach you need to take on social networks: Actually talk to and engage with your customers. 

Learn what social media platform is popular among your potential customers and get on it too. The most obvious option, Facebook, even has tools for promoting business pages to segmented audiences. If your clients use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram, expand your presence there too. This is something business owners may need help with, as the most effective way to grow an audience on social media is to consistently create and publish interesting, engaging content. 

And if your audience has migrated to newer platforms like TikTok or Clubhouse, try them out. The point is, follow your audience to attract the right traffic. 

4. Figure Out What's Right For Your Business: SEO Or PPC 

Before making a decision, assess your financial capabilities and understand if you need to go for search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising or both at the same time.

SEO and PPC are both digital marketing strategies that ultimately get your site to appear on Google page one. But to yield positive results, both strategies need a lot of expertise, tech knowledge and a marketing budget. 

PPC is perfect for quick sales if you have a new website that isn't performing well in organic search, if you think you have a great product/service and want to test it out or if you have reasonable profit margins.

On the flip side, SEO is what you need if you're looking for long-term growth and can afford to invest in it, if you want to build up your brand over time or if you want to optimize your marketing costs.

using SEO, you'll start driving high-quality traffic to your business at no cost. In PPC, you won't get any clicks if you don't regularly fork over a small fortune.

Alternatively, you can choose to do SEO and PPC at the same time. This totally depends on your opportunities.

Everything covered here is fundamental to boosting your business's online visibility. For businesses new to digital marketing, these steps may feel huge to begin with, but once you get the hang of it, it will seem as natural as wearing a seatbelt in a car. With the right set of tools—a well-optimized website, a Google My Business account, an active social media presence and constantly-published engaging content—you can drive web traffic, generate new sales and even get customers to fall in love with your brand.

Curated content written by: Valery Kurilov

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May 1, 2021

Privacy rules and a cookie purge will transform online marketing


The rise of data regulations and the end of third-party cookies should make businesses rework their approach to customers

The coming together of three big factors—the pandemic, growing privacy concerns among users and governments, and changes initiated by Big Tech giants—will change the way the marketing and advertising industry functions in the coming decade. The covid pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and this sudden change promises to disrupt marketing as a lever of business as we know it today. Given the direct impact this has on revenues and revenue growth, this issue warrants the attention of business leaders.

Consumer concerns on privacy have grown over the years. The rampant use of user data for behaviour manipulation, including for elections, has raised hackles worldwide among businesses, governments and people at large. Consumers are getting increasingly conscious of how their data is being used. A recent update of WhatsApp’s privacy policy, allowing the service to share user data with its parent Facebook, created a furore. Together, these issues have led governments to enact privacy laws across the world. These laws have mandated businesses to collect data in a manner that is compliant with norms, and which protects the right to privacy of consumers.

In India, the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB) is in its final stages of passage through Parliament. While laws related to information technology have been in existence since the early 2000s, these were focused on cybercrime and activity such as hacking, spam and offensive personal messaging.

Privacy laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and India’s PDPB have changed two things: 1) they acknowledge that devices such as smartphones are an intrinsic part of a person’s identity, and hence, any information that can be used to profile an individual comes under the ambit of laws; and 2) these laws articulate what is consent—that it should be free, informed, specific, clear, and capable of being withdrawn.

This evolving landscape around privacy is what has forced tech giants Google and Apple to toughen their stance on privacy. Last year, Google had announced the blocking of third-party cookies effective January 2022. As we approach this deadline, Google has signalled that it shall not allow any form of alternative identifiers across its suite of products.

Apple had taken an aggressive privacy-first stance even earlier, and upped the ante on trust. With the release of iOS 14, it has mandated privacy ‘nutrition labelling’ on its App Store and mandated consumer consent for tracking purposes.

These Big Tech companies are also increasingly subject to more regulation by governments, given their ability to create monopolistic or oligopolistic markets and control the playing field. The recent Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules in India and the landmark News Media Bargaining Code in Australia are a few examples of anti-trust laws that are coming up across the world.

The faster adoption of digital media driven by the pandemic means that business processes need to be digitized and delivered seamlessly as customer experiences across the internet. The onus of delivering these experiences calls for collaboration among experts of marketing, technology, design, cybersecurity and law.

The emergence of privacy laws requires businesses to collect and use data in ways that are both ethical and compliant. So, while designing and delivering customer experiences, business leaders need to be on top of data protection and consent management, even as they ensure that processes are set up for ethical and sensitive use of data.

A data breach has multiple costs and entails various risks, including financial risk, legal risk, compliance risk and the biggest of all, reputational risk. Privacy is being weaponized and any laxity on behalf of a business could have serious consequences. Any inadvertent data breach results in loss of reputation and the possibility of legal action.

On the positive side, the evolving privacy landscape presents brands and advertisers an opportunity to educate and strengthen their relationship with customers and get to know them better. Businesses will need to invest in harnessing their own customers data across platforms, as every company now needs to behave like a tech company.

Consequently, customer relationship management (CRM) modules will go mainstream and be fully integrated into marketing efforts.. Harvesting market research and aggregated anonymized data is also critical to enriching this first-party data. These strategies will help businesses bridge the gap between consumer insights and marketing implementation, which will soon be constrained by the death of third-party cookies.

The end of browser-based third-party cookies also means that campaign planning, targeting, optimization and measurement are affected. The move signifies the death of re-targeting and lookalike marketing as practised today. Cost-per- impression-based buying will transition to cost-per-click/engagement-based buying. Walled gardens such as Google will only provide attribution within their publishing domain. Businesses need to evolve mechanisms to measure their marketing campaigns to be able to determine omni-channel effectiveness.

With less than eight months left for the purge of third-party cookies and a rapidly evolving regulatory framework, businesses need to be ready to implement privacy-by-design in their marketing efforts. A sharp focus on first-party data and on contextual advertising is imminent. Time is running out and many businesses have yet to wake up to this reality.

Ravi Ganesh & Lloyd Mathias are, respectively, a data and analytics expert and founder of TMber Data and an investor & business strategist and former marketer at PepsiCo, Motorola & HP

Curated content written by: Ravi Ganesh,Lloyd Mathias

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