“Millennials” is Not a Target Audience

Have you ever had a client or co-worker utter the following words?

I know exactly who my target consumers are: Millennials.

If so, your response should be, “That’s great, but ‘Millennials’ is not a target audience.”

Sure, Millennials seem like they would be great to target; there are a lot of them (upward of 90 million), they have tremendous spending power (estimated at $200 billion per year), and they consume a large amount of media (232 minutes a day of TV on average). So what is wrong with “Millennials” as a target audience?

Most notably, a target audience needs to be just that–TARGETED. Millennials, with their sheer size, are too voluminous and diverse to truly be a target audience. The group contains college students, new moms, young professionals, men, women, and many more demographic subsets.

Here are three mistakes to avoid when identifying and communicating with a target audience.

1. Ignoring how an audience likes to be communicated with

Ever received an email when you would have preferred a phone call? Or vice versa? Knowing how, when, and where to reach an audience is one factor to consider when selecting a consumer group to target. If the majority of your media vehicles will not reach your target, you’ll continually struggle to communicate your message. If you are unable to adjust your media placement, you may need to adjust your target–and thus your marketing messaging, too. Young Millennials, for example, are like their older Millennial counterparts in that both groups are heavy social media and online users–but the younger set does not use email as frequently. An email campaign that is targeted to younger Millennials would likely not see as much success as an alternate media placement, like pre-roll video.

2. Offering your target audience something they don’t want–or need

Thinking back to marketing basics, a brand promise is what you offer that your target wants, which is perceived to be better than the competition. Now ask yourself, is what your brand offers something that your target audience wants or needs? If not, are you offering the wrong promise; or is it the right promise for your brand, but the wrong audience? Gaining deeper insights into your audience will not only give you information on its tangible wants and needs, but also into psychographic factors that your brand may be able to address. Identifying the blend of functional and emotional benefits that your brand can offer to the target audience will help inform your marketing messaging and allow you to communicate with the target audience in a more robust way.

3. Being too targeted

Just as targeting the entire Millennial generation is too broad, having too narrow of a target is a mistake as well. While a precise set of targeting criteria may seem like a wise strategy, you will want to ensure that your targeting criteria still allows for enough critical mass to drive sales and consumption. If you do have a very narrow target, you may want to identify “look alike” audiences that are similar to your target to help build the audience volume needed to be successful.

Those are just a few of the many factors to consider, and challenges that marketers face, when selecting a target audience.
To learn more about Martino Flynn’s Insights and Analytics practice, please contact Rose Feor at 585.421.0100.

Best Practices for Consumer Email Marketing

Email sucks. We all hate wading through piles of it every day. And we especially hate spam. That’s why there are systems—and in some cases, entire businesses—in place for the sole purpose of blocking spam. Which is defined as “unwanted or unsolicited commercial email.”

As marketers, the emails we send are by definition commercial—and most are unsolicited. Think about it. Have you ever had a customer ask, “Hey, do you think you guys could send me some emails?”

So, we can’t really do anything about our emails being commercial or unsolicited. But unwanted? We can remedy that. There are steps we can take to help ensure that our customers and prospects actually want to receive our messages. Here are a few:

Think Small

When marketers think about commercial emails, we usually think of desktop email clients like Outlook or Apple Mail, or browser-based webmail clients like Gmail. But as of December 2014, there’s about a 50/50 chance that our commercial email will be opened on a mobile device—most likely an iPhone.

Email Opens by Platform

Knowing this, use a “mobile first” approach when writing and designing email. Know that there are tons of other email messages in your target’s inbox, competing for attention. And that it’s all too easy to ignore your email with a swipe of a finger or thumb. Use responsive design techniques, so your messages still look decent on larger screens. And when possible, focus your call-to-action into a button that’s big enough to smack with your thumb.

Let Go

As marketers, we’re used to a fair amount of control over layouts. Composition, typography, and color—the way our messages look and feel. With websites, we’ve had to let go of some of this control in order to allow for the differences in rendering of different web browsers across different operating systems and devices. With email rendering, we have to let go even more. Among email clients, the support for CSS rules (that have been common in web design for years) is all over the map. And Microsoft Outlook, while one of the more popular desktop email clients, is terrible at rendering HTML (that’s a whole other blog post). The point is, accept practicality over perfection: aim for your message to look good across different platforms. If you aim for perfection on one platform, you’ll likely have to accept “broken” on another.

Keep it Simple

The email inbox is a cluttered place. If we’re lucky enough to get our reader’s attention, we probably still only have a fraction of it. Folks typically “triage” emails when they have a few spare seconds, and look for any excuse to ignore a commercial email. Most are in a constant state of information overload, so whenever possible, keep your message as simple as possible. Aim to make a single point, not deliver a laundry list of features and benefits. Make sure to ask the reader to take action, but be as clear as possible about what you’re asking them to do—and never ask them to do more than one thing. The easier you make it, the more likely they’ll do it.

Get Permission First

Remember, we’re using a common definition for spam as “unwanted or unsolicited commercial email.” We have a bad habit of calling our emails to customers and prospects “blasts” or “campaigns”.

It’s better to think of email as a conversation. One that your customer wants to have, or that they have agreed to have. It’s tempting to buy a list of email addresses and broadcast a message to them via email. But however great our offer is—however noble our intentions—that, folks, is spam. There’s a reason that people on an email list are called “subscribers”. Like a publication, we need to earn the reader’s attention. And if we send them stuff that doesn’t interest them, they can cancel their subscription at any time.

Yeah, email sucks. It’s a necessary evil. But if used with care, email can be a great way to keep prospects and customers interested in and engaged with our product or service. It can help you deliver value between purchases—so when they are ready to buy, you’ll be easy to remember.

Using Social Media Analytics To Refine Your Messaging

Author William Butler Yeats said it best: “Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.”

When it comes to social media, today’s brands understand all too well just how important it is to create compelling content that resonates with their target audience. In fact, marketers, including a few of our own here at Martino Flynn, have been preaching time and time again that valuable social media content is both strategic and snackable, especially in terms of delivering value, education, and, in some cases, entertainment to the audience. When it comes down to it, great content not only supports the goals of your brand, but the desires and needs of your social community. In essence, you need to speak the language of your social media audience.

So how do you know if your social media content is meeting the mark? The answer can be found in social media analytics.

The Value of Social Media Intelligence

The numbers don’t lie. In many ways, analytics help to eliminate the guesswork and provide you with a clear snapshot of your social media ecosystem. Think of your audience like a focus group and examine just how well your content is performing with this group. For our social media clients, we examine a number of analytics, including everything from post-audience reach, click-through rate and shares to overall engagement levels for each channel.

For starters, identify your top-performing messages and dive into what’s working. Is it the conversational tone of the message? Is it the type of content you’re sharing? Is it the time of day you’re publishing? Hone in on what is making those particular messages drive higher engagement from your audience.

Then—before you get carried away and start patting yourself on the back—take a look at what’s not working.

Perhaps when you’re live tweeting an event, your high frequency of posts is hurting engagement numbers because the audience just can’t react fast enough. Or maybe your original posts featuring company announcements and web links are doing better than curated posts featuring industry articles. Look at the analytics of each post and you’ll quickly begin to see the audience trends. This insight will help guide your content strategy moving forward.

Analytics at Play

At Martino Flynn, we use analytics for every social media account we manage, no matter if it’s B2B or B2C. Analytics are particularly important when you’re working in B2B because you may not have that inherent draw that consumer brands have on their social media channels. Forrester Research has reported that many B2B organizations simply struggle with social media because they can’t find an appropriate balance between promoting products and services vs. providing that value-added, relationship-building content.

To help motivate sales channels, engage customers/prospects, and appeal to industry influencers, we often work with our B2B brands to develop content strategies in which analytics play a large role. For one of our premier B2B clients, we utilize both an advanced social media management platform and a real-time intelligence listening platform. These tools allow us to pull in a number of customized reports on social media activity. As we post content, we tag each message so that we can go back and look retrospectively at performance. We label the type of content, whether we’re sharing a whitepaper, blog post, industry article, video, etc. and the topic in order to determine where our audience’s interest level is. We also compare the message performance across all channels. This insight helps us to refine our messaging, brand voice, and content strategy throughout the year.

Where Do I Find Analytic Tools?

Today, 53 percent of social media marketers don’t measure success on social media. Talk about a missed opportunity! What’s worse is that it’s not hard to find social media listening and analytics platforms. In fact, many of the common social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, already offer analytics for free. We encourage our clients to take a good look at their social media strategies, key performance indicator (KPI) goals, and, of course, budgets. In some cases, the free tools may suffice, but most businesses will want to go a step further and implement a separate social media analytics tool to gather greater intelligence. It really all depends on how you plan to use the analytics.

It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about developing a more effective social media content strategy that meets the desires and needs of your social community. At Martino Flynn, our social media experts are monitoring our client accounts on a daily basis and adjusting content calendars in real time for greater success. Analytical information will only better inform you when it comes to crafting more effective social media strategies. Remember, the content that resonates today may not resonate tomorrow. Be proactive and be ready to evolve your content strategies as time goes on.

To learn more about the role of social media analytics and Martino Flynn’s social media capabilities, please call: 585.421.0100.

The Rise of the Cat

Over the years, I’ve heard numerous references to becoming a “crazy cat lady,” or jokes that I need the sweatshirt reading, “cats are purrrrrrrfect.” And if owning a cat makes me crazy, then I’m in good company, because 45.3 million other U.S. households also own cats, with most owning more than one feline. In total, U.S. households own 95.6 million cats, compared to just 83.3 million dogs[i]. (And just to clarify–I only have one cat–but I still want the sweatshirt.)

The rise of the cat was evidenced at this year’s Global Pet Expo, where the new product showcase featured nearly as many new items for cats as for dogs, a striking change compared to previous years, when the new product section for cats was almost an afterthought.

So what’s driving this upward trend of cat ownership? One factor is the urbanization of the United States. As more people move from rural areas into cities, and often into smaller living spaces, cats become a more viable option for potential pet parents than dogs. It’s hard to imagine living with a medium-to-large size dog in a city apartment, but it’s easy to picture oneself with a small 8 lb. cat. Urbanization is also a main reason why we have seen an increase in small dog ownership.

And for potential pet parents–meaning the more than 90% of pet owners who consider their animals an integral part of the family–cats offer an added flexibility in terms of lifestyle, as cats can be fairly self-sufficient and independent. A cat does not come with the added responsibility of taking it out for a walk or to use the bathroom, but still provides the companionship and social support that pet owners are looking for.

Most recently, cat ownership has become more socially acceptable in pop culture. Taylor Swift is frequently seen walking about New York City with one of her cats, and she famously tweeted a photo of a cat scratch, saying her cat Meredith Grey cost her $40 million. Katy Perry, Kesha, and Ricky Gervais are other celebrities who are not bashful about owning cats. In late March, the NY Times ran an op-ed that portrayed female celeb cat owners as the new face of women’s independence.

For brands and marketers, an upward trend in cat ownership doesn’t mean that you automatically need to start creating cat-sized versions of your products. However, cat ownership is becoming an increasingly important aspect to consider when building a robust consumer profile of your target audience.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s animal healthcare and pet marketing programs, please contact Rose Feor at 585.421.0100.

[i] MINTEL, America’s Pet Owners, September 2014

Martino Flynn Client Receives Retail TouchPoints’ Social Mavens Award

Influencers and AdvocatesKeeping up with business trends and new technology is essential to a company. One particular trend—which has proven time and time again to be more than just a fad—is the use of social media. Businesses now have the ability to target and speak directly to consumers who show an interest in their brand—making social media a vital component to any brand’s communication strategy.

Over the past few years, Martino Flynn has worked with dozens of clients in the social space to gain momentum, followers, awareness, and engagement. One campaign recently was recognized by Retail TouchPoints, in its inaugural Social Media Mavens Awards.

Martino Flynn was tasked, in the 2014 back-to-school season, with re-energizing the Softlips® Lip Balm brand image to combat declining sales and loss of retail shelf space. The introduction of the new Softlips® Cube lip balm fueled a variety of tactics, including print advertisements in top beauty books, traditional public relations, and social media. Social media was chosen as a main driver of earned awareness, given the Cube’s target audience of women age 16-24 already are prolific in the online space. Overall, campaign messaging was tailored to this audience surrounding key product differentiators. Messages were driven by compelling coupons, promotions, giveaways, and shareable media and graphics.

During the campaign, Martino Flynn worked with Softlips® and Influenster® to boost social engagement and introduce the Cube to more than 10,000 Millennials through the use of VoxBox distributions. Influenster VoxBoxes required recipients to interact with the Softlips brand on social media channels, as well as post photos and feedback on retailer websites. During the campaign period, Martino Flynn focused on responding to each and every brand mention with a “like,” favorite, re-tweet, direct reply, or comment, responding to hundreds of posts daily. During the distribution period, Softlips® had a significant increase in its social following and engagement rates.

Some highlights from the Influenster campaign included:

  • The brand generated more than 30 million online impressions, including:
    • 9 million impressions and 16,000+ interactions on Twitter
    • 11 million impressions and 8,000+ interactions on Facebook
    • 8 million impressions and 5,000+ interactions on Instagram, plus
    • 1 million+ offline conversations
  • Each Facebook post organically reached between 2,000 and 9,000 people (up from 500 to 1,000 people).
  • The Softlips Twitter account gained more than 3,000 organic followers in three months.
  • Four Softlips terms and hashtags trended nationally during an Influenster Twitter chat.
  • Instagram gained more than 3,000 followers, with average post engagement increasing from 0 to more than 200.
  • Softlips gained more than 4,000 followers on Pinterest.
  • Softlips secured placements in many retailers in the front of key accounts; and
  • Sales are exceeding forecasts.

Social media can have a direct impact on sales – if done right. After the Softlips® campaign through Influenster®, testers were surveyed to determine the Cube’s overall impression with the audience. It was found that more than 70% of testers intended to buy a Softlips® Cube again, and 42% already had purchased another Softlips® product by the time they were surveyed.

For this work and the impressive results that followed, Retail TouchPoints recognized Softlips® Lip Balm in Social Influencers and Advocates category. Softlips® was recognized among 12 other globally recognized brands, including Kohl’s, Staples, Marc Jacobs, Jamba Juice, and Lilly Pulitzer.

If your business is looking to develop an integrated social media strategy with results like these, Martino Flynn is ready to work with you. To learn more about our social media marketing capabilities, call us at 585.421.0100.

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