Four Ways Brands Earn Trust

Four Ways Brands Earn Trust

Marketing

Consumers don’t want to ignore brands. We want to spend time in their stores and immerse ourselves in their websites when the experience is good. We willingly buy their products. Otherwise, people around the world wouldn’t be spending nearly $25 trillion in 2018 in the retail sector alone. But to become loyal to brands – to willingly give them our time and money over and over, and then recommend them to others – we have to trust them.

A relationship with a business is built on trust, and consumers now possess more tools to figure out which brands they can trust and which they cannot. For example, analyst Brian Solis recently assessed the results of Google research indicating that mobile searches that include “best” have grown more than 80 percent in the last two years, and searches using the phrase “to avoid” have grown 1.5X in the same span. And Google continues to refine its algorithms to provide precise answers. As Solis notes,

Among everyday consumers, trust in brands and executives erodes every year. According to Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer report, trust is increasingly democratized and less hierarchical. In its most recent report, Edelman found, for the first time, that 60% of consumers view “a person like yourself” as a credible source for information about a company as a technical or academic expert. And, credibility of CEOs hit an all-time low in the series, with a 12-point decline in the last year.

Building consumer trust becomes not only an imperative for attentive brands but also a significant competitive advantage.

In addition, consumers are increasingly relying on reviews to determine which companies they can trust. According to eMarketer, online reviews are even overtaking advice from friends and families as a way to research brands. Online reviews are especially important for high-consideration products such as electronics and clothing.

How do brands earn our trust? I think brands do so by living these four attributes:

Authenticity

Brands can illustrate authenticity in many ways, but when it comes to consumers trusting brands, it’s important that companies demonstrate their values and what they stand for. Kendra Scott is a fashion brand that is built around positivity and giving back to the community. The founder, Kendra Scott, uses social media to not only showcase their quality products, but the company’s values and philanthropic actions as well. The brand organizes events for a variety of organizations and causes, which they put on display across their marketing channels. Emphasizing how involved Kendra Scott is to making the world a better place allows consumers to think of them than more than just a company that sells jewelry and other fashion products – it’s a brand they can trust.

Transparency

In the social media world that we live in, there are no longer secrets. Consumers are demanding brands to be open and honest with them. Many brands struggle with being transparent with their customers, but a lack of transparency only hurts them. Whether a brand is enduring a PR crisis or announcing a new product, it’s important for a brand to show who they are and what they can give to the consumer. Recently, I received an email from Panera Bread’s CEO, Blaine E. Hurst, commenting on the recent romaine lettuce recall. He stated, “From the moment the advisory was issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 13, 2018, we pulled all romaine originating from Yuma growing region from our cafes .  . .”

He continued by confirming that customers can rest assured that they found a new source and all Panera salads are safe to eat. He concluded the email by saying, “We hope this helps to ease your mind, and invite you to come in and enjoy your favorite Panera salad again.”

From this email, Blaine Hurst was able to build trust by being honest. He assured customers that they were safe to eat at Panera by confirming that Panera had resolved the unfortunate issue. When a brand faces a conflict that involves them or their products, it’s crucial that they are completely transparent with consumers in order to gain or sustain trust.

Consistency

It’s essential to develop standards for brand consistency, online and offline, to earn consumer’s trust. Chick-fil-A is a company that does so. My experience at Chick-fil-A, no matter which location, has been consistent each time, whether it’s at the beginning with a warm welcome from the employee taking my order, or when I’m enjoying my meal. And the brand consistency doesn’t stop there. When I come across one of their social media posts or advertisements, I can tell it’s their content without even looking at the brand name. Having consistency across your team, products, and marketing efforts builds trust and loyalty for consumers because they know what to expect from you and your products or services.

Empathy

Showing your customers that you care about them, especially in a time of need, boosts consumer loyalty and trust. I recently ordered a present for a family member off Amazon, and the dealer lost it in the mail. Amazon sent me an email telling me to contact Amazon support, and then a friendly customer service rep from Amazon apologized multiple times for the inconvenience. The same rep immediately re-ordered my item for me free of charge with overnight shipping so that I would get it on time. Amazon training their support team to show empathy allows me to feel confident ordering from Amazon in the future. Even if this issue or a similar scenario were to happen again, I could trust that Amazon would happily resolve the issue quickly. Offering empathy to a customer enhances the customer’s experience which then enables them to trust the brand.

Perhaps the best way for a brand to build trust is to ask these simple questions:

  • Are you treating your customers the way you would want them to treat every person at your company?
  • What do you want your customers to say about you? Are you giving them every motivation to do so with your actions?

Trust is earned one person at a time. But building trust starts with training your own people. Does everyone at your own company know how to earn the trust of every customer they meet?

Image source: http://www.brandingbusiness.com/blogs/building-b2b-brand-trust-through-communication

Artificial Intelligence Shapes Google’s Future

Artificial Intelligence Shapes Google’s Future

Marketing

For many marketers, Google means advertising. But Google also wants us to associate its name with artificial intelligence. Recent events illustrate how the company has one foot planted in the present and future. Can Google have its cake and eat it, too?

The Present: Advertising

The latest quarterly earnings announcement of Google’s parent, Alphabet, shows that Google remains a formidable force in the world of online advertising. Alphabet’s first-quarter revenues, $31.1 billion, outperformed analysts’ expectations. Why? Because Google is an advertising cash cow. As much as Alphabet likes to tout its forays into emerging technology, its money comes from Google’s ability to secure revenue via time-honored advertising tools such as AdWords.

Approximately $26.6 billion, or 86 percent of Alphabet’s quarterly revenue, came from Google advertising. Think about that: $26.6 billion. That’s enough to land a company in the Fortune500. Google is protecting its position by refining current tools such as AdWords while rolling out new tools to make online advertising more personal and mobile-centric. Although much has been said about Google’s struggle to make YouTube a safer advertising platform for brands, probably Google’s bigger threat is Amazon, which continues to ascend as a major search platform – and offers advertising tools of its own. As reported, Amazon is now a multi-billion dollar advertising giant. Google needs to adapt or fall behind.

The Future: Artificial Intelligence

The 2018 Google I/O event, occurring May 8-9, illustrates Google’s intent to change itself and the world around it. At this year’s I/O, Google has been pushing artificial intelligence through its products. For example, Google announced the creation of Duplex, an “AI System for Accomplishing Real World Tasks Over the Phone” in the words of a Google blog post. As Google noted:

The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated how accurate Duplex already is when he showed how Duplex can make Google’s voice assistant (Google Assistant) smart enough to place a call to a hair salon and book an appointment with a real person, sounding so natural that a human being is not aware they are talking with a voice assistant.

Google also unleashed a number of AI-based product improvements ranging from a smarter, more personal Google Maps to a customized Google News. So why the push into AI? Because Google knows that the company needs to become more than a leading search platform. Google has long been evolving as a media platform for accomplishing everyday tasks, and in recent years, it has looked to emerging technology such as virtual reality to do so. Google needs to demonstrate to its advertisers that it can keep consumers inside the Google ecosystem, and simply making search better is not enough to do that.

If Google can pull off a future defined by AI, it will protect its advertising base. But here again, Amazon looms as a threat. Amazon is making its own investments into AI to be a smarter platform for its customers, both online and offline.

The competition between Google and Amazon is good for consumers and advertisers. Consumers should benefit from more personalized services while businesses have more choices to advertise. Choice is good. And Google wants to be the first choice. Contact us to learn more about how to thrive with online advertising with giants such as Google and Amazon.

Welcome to True Interactive!

Welcome to True Interactive!

Marketing

By Kurt Anagnostopoulos and Mark Smith

Welcome to a new era!

Today we officially changed the KeywordFirst name to True Interactive.

True Interactive reflects how we have evolved to become a trusted digital marketing partner that improves the performance of our clients. The KeywordFirst name served us well for many years and reflects our search roots. At the same time, over the past few years, we’ve been helping clients solve problems that extend beyond search, such as:

  • Managing digital advertising campaigns, including mobile.
  • Developing paid social strategies.
  • Managing analytics programs.

Analysts such as Clutch have noticed our evolution. In 2017, Clutch named KeywordFirst a leader in both pay-per-click advertising and all-around digital marketing — and then in 2018 as a leader for Chicago-based internet marketing services agencies. We received especially high marks from clients for the quality of our work and partnering style, as noted here.

Search is as strong as ever and remains one of our core skills. In fact, our broader experience with digital marketing has made us better at search. And now the True Interactive name reflects our present and future.

Our people and our culture remain the same. We’re as dedicated as ever to delivering results with complete transparency. True Interactive will continue to build our brand through the strength of our talent, client relationships,  and ideas for shaping the future of performance-based digital marketing.

We are excited for what the future holds!

— Kurt and Mark

Research Firm Clutch Ranks True Interactive a Leader for Internet Marketing

Research Firm Clutch Ranks True Interactive a Leader for Internet Marketing

Marketing

I am pleased to announce that True Interactive been ranked by research firm Clutch as a leader among Chicago-based internet marketing companies. The ranking marks the third time Clutch has evaluated True Interactive as a leader in 2017-18 – including the categories of Chicago-based digital marketing and pay-per-click agencies.

The ranking validates our evolution from search specialist to marketing partner. True Interactive is the independent alternative to large agencies.

The Clutch report is especially meaningful for two reasons:

1 The evaluation is rigorous and objective

Clutch is an independent a business-to-business research firm. The company evaluated and ranked Chicago-based internet marketing agencies using a proprietary research methodology that incorporated factors ranging from the agency’s market presence to client reviews.

2 The ranking is based largely on input from clients

True Interactive’s clients provided strong reviews of our capabilities and work style. Here is a sample of the input:

  • “They excel in attention to detail and are personally invested in our success” — a luxury resort provider.
  • “It’s been nice to know that we can have a partner that will adapt to us and not charge extra for every little item” – home improvement company.
  • “Their learning process has been continuous, and they’ve never taken the one-size-fits-all approach for us” – retail company.

Clutch’s research also noted the breadth of True Interactive’s skills in areas such as digital strategy, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising. The complete True Interactive profile, including client reviews, is available here. In addition, here are all the companies ranked.

True Interactive is proud to be a trusted partner that builds brands through digital. We are working hard to earn the kind of feedback that our clients have provided Clutch. Contact us to discuss how we can help you improve your digital performance.

Google Pushes Businesses Toward an Augmented Reality Future

Google Pushes Businesses Toward an Augmented Reality Future

Marketing

I recently blogged about businesses adopting augmented reality to make the consumer experience more dynamic and exciting. On March 14, Google reminded businesses that augmented reality is coming whether they use it or not. The search giant and media company said that it has developed a tool that makes it possible for developers to turn Google Maps locations into augmented reality enhanced make-believe settings.

In a blog post, Google said,

The mobile gaming landscape is changing as more and more studios develop augmented reality games. In order to mix realities, developers first need to understand the real world — the physical environment around their players. we’re excited to announce a new offering for building real-world games using Google Maps’ tried-and-tested model of the world.

Game studios can easily reimagine our world as a medieval fantasy, a bubble gum candy land, or a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic city. With Google Maps’ real-time updates and rich location data, developers can find the best places for playing games, no matter where their players are.

Now let’s connect the dots about what’s going on here. Remember how the skyrocketing popularity of Pokémon GO turned real-world businesses into make-believe Poké Stops and Gyms where Pokémon GO players could do battle with Pokémon and collect rewards? Well, nearly two years later, millions of people still play Pokemon GO, proving that a game using augmented reality:

  • Has staying power.
  • Can draw people to real-world location – creating foot traffic and sales for brick-and-mortar businesses such as coffee shops, stores, and restaurants.

Now, we’re seeing an explosion of more games that will probably have the same impact on businesses – experiences such as the forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive, Ghostbusters World, and Walking Dead: Our World.  All those augmented reality games are coming in 2018, and the Jurassic World, Ghostbusters, and Walking Dead games were developed with the Google ARCore toolkit for developing augmented reality experiences.

Here’s what’s going to happen this summer:

  • An uptick of augmented reality promotions from the studios producing the movies associated with the games. These promotions will likely involve co-brands with restaurants and other locations where fans can play the games.
  • Brick-and-mortar businesses jumping on to the augmented reality bandwagon when they see how many consumers are using their mobile phones to play the games near their locations, even if those businesses don’t co-brand with studios. We’ll have businesses promoting themselves as the hottest place for Harry Potter fans to battle Lord Voldemort, and stores offering promotions for fans to celebrate the joy of playing Ghostbusters together – just as brick-and-mortar companies did with Pokémon GO at the height of its popularity.

At the center of all this action: Google. Google, like Apple, is developing the tools to make augmented reality spread. Google sees the future and wants to be an active participant by creating augmented reality based marketing and advertising of its own. And Google has the power to shape that future.

By making an augmented reality toolkit available, Google is opening the door for many, many more augmented reality games to get developed way beyond the major titles being released by studios and Niantic (creator of Pokémon Go and the new Harry Potter game). If Google has its way, more businesses and developers will work together to create their own customized games relying on a business’s location. The development could become huge – or also create some augmented reality burnout if too many games get developed at once. Ultimately, consumers will decide which games win and which ones fall by the wayside. As Pokémon GO showed, people will respond to an experience that engages them.

To discuss how to create a more engaging digital brand, contact us. We’re here to help.

7 Great Women Who Inspire Us

7 Great Women Who Inspire Us

Marketing

To honor International Women’s Day, we’ve thought about the women who lead our industry through their ideas and actions. These women are not only leading the advertising and media industry, they’re also leading businesses, period:

  • Jerri DeVard, EVP, chief customer officer, Office Depot: she inspires by showing how a legacy company can keep its brand fresh online and offline – and in her spare time, she’s on the board of directors of three companies.
  • Carol Dweck, author: at businesses across America, her book Mindset is required reading to inspire people to embrace self-improvement and better performance. She is an inspirational TED speaker and teacher with a far-reaching impact.
  • Patty McCord, consultant and author: as chief talent officer at Netflix, she helped build the company’s renowned culture of innovation and agility. Now she teaches other businesses how to get better.
  • Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo: you always find her on lists of the world’s most powerful women, but she’s also led the building of one of the world’s most powerful brands – and one that is innovating with its products and marketing.
  • Ruth Porat, CFO, Alphabet: in a male-dominated field, Ruth Porat stands apart for her leadership of a company whose stock price and market value continue to climb. She ensures that all those moonshots make fiscal sense.
  • Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios: as president of NBC Entertainment, she managed more than 40 television titles including popular shows as such as This Is Us. We can’t wait to see what she does with The Lord of the Rings series now that she’s head of Amazon Studios.
  • Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube: 180 million people watch YouTube, and more than 400 hours of video content are loaded a minute. YouTube continues to extend its influence under her guidance.

These are just seven names among many women at all levels across industries who lead. We salute the women we work with and admire!

How the Oscars Have Adapted to a Declining TV Audience

How the Oscars Have Adapted to a Declining TV Audience

Marketing

It looks like the 90th annual Academy Awards will go down as the least watched in history. Preliminary numbers show that overall viewership will dip below 30 million for the first time ever. Until now, the least watched Oscars telecast occurred in 2008, when the Academy Awards garnered 32 million viewers.

And the numbers appear even worse when you realize that the Oscars have been experiencing a ratings decline for four straight years. By contrast, in 1998, the Academy Awards were watched by 55 million people, an all-time high.

Should the Academy be worried?

My take: the ratings decline is simply a sign of change in the way people experience televised events. In fact, the Academy is already doing what any smart brand should do: adapt.

As we’ve noted on our blog, television continues to present its share of limitations for advertisers. Viewership for major events, such as the Olympics, Super Bowl, and Academy Awards, continues to drop as people shift their viewing habits from sitting in front of their TV sets to multi-tasking with social media and catching snippets of content on their mobile phones. Interestingly, Josef Adalain of Vulture points out that the Academy Awards will continue to be profitable for ABC because it’s still one of the few opportunities for advertisers to share their message with a mass audience.

But the Academy is not simply feeding off a smaller audience. The Academy Awards meet viewers where they are with a number of digital experiences. For example:

  • Oscars: All Access makes it possible for fans to get a look at what happens backstage via well placed cameras that catch interesting little moments such as how stars react right after they walk backstage after receiving their Oscars. The All Access feature appeals to people on their phones and laptops who are looking for a fun second-screen experience, especially for cable cord cutters who are shut off from the actual show.

  • With social media, the Academy engages fans through Facebook Live broadcasts, contests, and shout-outs to fans who are tracking the show online. On platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the Academy cranks out a mix of visual content to tell the story of what happens onstage and in the audience. The Academy has turned the Oscars into a year-round brand by using social to keep fans engaged with content. You can even watch Oscar-nominated shorts on the Academy’s YouTube channel.

Advertisers are also adapting. We’ve already seen many instances of businesses creating real-time social media content to capitalize on memorable Oscar moments, while other brands, such as AT&T, have used advertising dollars to sponsor the Academy’s digital content, such as Oscars: All Access.

The Academy Awards offer a lesson to businesses that emerged in the age of linear TV. In the age of digital, you can still have your audience. You just need to meet them where they are. To maximizing the value of our digital spend, contact us. We’re here to help.