Trends Go Visual: Getty Images on what STATUS and BETTERMENT mean for the visual sphere

All images appear courtesy of Getty Images. 

This is the first in a series of four blog posts created in collaboration with our partners over at Getty Images. Each post will see us share two of the 16 mega-trends that form part of our broader Trend Framework. These are the big, slow-moving currents in the consumer arena – that, taken together, form our complete picture of consumerism today and where it’s heading.

Below, Jacqueline Bourke – Senior Manager of Creative Planning for Getty Images London – showcases the most aesthetically stunning representations of the trends that are shaping the future, and how these trends translate to the visual sphere.

WHAT IS A TREND/VISUAL FRAMEWORK & WHY DO I NEED ONE?

To develop truly relevant, meaningful (and successful!) innovations, you need to understand the bigger picture. The trend ecosystem as it were…

Enter the Trend Framework – an insanely comprehensive (and actionable) overview of the the 16 mega-trends TrendWatching track.

Ready to explore the first two mega-trends and their visual accompaniment? Read on!

STATUS SEEKERS: What, why & what next

STATUS SEEKERS entails the relentless, often subconscious, yet ever-present force that underpins almost all consumer behavior – based around the fact that the desire for status and recognition is a deep and universal human need.

In consumer societies, people traditionally derive much of their social status through the goods, services and experiences they collect and share. And with so many choices available in modern economies, consuming is as much a statement about who I am as what I have.

As status becomes more diverse and traditional status symbols such as cars, houses and designer handbags lose their allure, status is accrued through knowledge, skills, expertise, connections and more. And the most important facet of the post-material statusphere? The ability to tell and share ever-more interesting stories on social platforms.


The Getty Images perspective

Humans are contradictory, and the contrasts faced by the modern consumer is equally a yearning for extremes – from a desire for either luxury, convenience or individuality outside the mainstream – to a genuine need for interconnectedness, community, acceptance and journey.

Ultimately, our STATUS is to seek an audience to share our stories. We want to be seen, we want to be recognized for who we are and our continual process of learning and evolving. As more and more of us use social media to share our stories with the world, we are overwhelming choosing to do that through visuals.

The way that we share and use imagery continues to evolve and the kind of imagery we like best changes at a dramatic rate. From the authenticity of everyday smartphone realism to seeking something more aspirational, surreal and imaginative, we are now living in a world craving visuals that go beyond the norm, expanding our understanding of who we are and the way we interpret the world.

(You can view the complete STATUS SEEKERS collection by Getty Images right here).

BETTERMENT: What, why & what next

BETTERMENT is the universal quest for self-improvement – show us a consumer who doesn’t aspire to doing so!

The desire to improve can manifest in many ways: the desire for better health, for greater knowledge, the development of new skills and much more. The products, campaigns and services that enable the realization of these goals will simply appear ‘better’ than those that don’t.

Consumers now seek a deeper, lasting personal impact from their purchases, wanting a sense of personal growth (think emotional, spiritual or ethical) that is not always easy to quantify. It’s time to think beyond BETTERMENT devices and tools of convenience to services that truly facilitate a higher version of the self.


The Getty Images perspective

As brands start to focus on values, as we shift our focus to more meaningful consumption, a surge of concepts such as goodness, intention and interconnectedness play out in the visual landscape. People are searching for something more mindful and spiritual and are purchasing with purpose. In an overwhelming visual world, brands and storytellers are placing purpose at the core of their narratives and must now appeal to our sense of worth, inside and out. 

We are seeing imagery representing contemplation or introspection and imagery showing a god’s eye view via aerial photography. 

Imagery is uncomplicated but beautifully executed to stand out against imagery that’s more frantic and busy. Less is more in both composition and colour with pictures that are often quiet and restrained.

(You can view the complete BETTERMENT collection by Getty Images right here).

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Getty Images is the world’s leader in visual communication, with over 190 million assets available through its premium content site and its leading stock content site. They are an official partner for both our Singapore (at the National Design Centre on October 27th) and Sydney (November 3rd at the Museum of Contemporary Art) Trend Events. Want to see what’s going down? More info and tickets here

Our newly-launched tw:in meet-ups are heading to Lagos on Saturday 8th October!

TrendWatching’s Insight Network – or tw:in for those in the know ;) – has recently started to organise exclusive meet-ups for like-minded trend enthusiasts all over the world. Having already hit Amsterdam and Singapore, Saturday 8th October sees the platform’s first foray in Lagos, Nigeria, for a dive into TrendWatching’s methodology as well as key trends and innovations shaping both the region and the world. 

Emeka Obia, Nigeria’s most prolific Super Spotter, will be providing support on the day, and here he provides a quick run through of what the people of Lagos can expect come the weekend. Want to register? You can sign up right here

There’s a big argument that Africa at isn’t quite ready for trends yet, but it’s quite interesting to see that businesses in this part of the world and constantly looking for new ways to stand out, and meet customers increasing needs. Information and communication technology has ushered in a new wave of technological advances and is creating novel opportunities for businesses (as TrendWatching covered in recent briefings AFRICA INSIDE OUT and  THE FUTURE OF AFRICONNECTION).

Hosted by TW:IN, the session will see TrendWatching’s Africa Regional Director, Lola Pedro, set the scene for savvy professionals, who share an insatiable curiosity in understanding the direction of key trends, by providing them with an overview of TW:IN, and helping them better understand how the network fits into TrendWatching’s bigger methodology.

The interactive session, taking place in Yaba – an upcoming start-up neighbourhood and Lagos’ answer to Silicon Valley, will give attendees a chance to ask critical questions, meet and network with other trend enthusiasts, as well as highlighting the insights crucial to understanding customer expectations in today’s fast-evolving world.

Want to join? It’s not too late – registration is still open, and there’s a handful of spaces remaining. For those who have already signed up, see you on Saturday!

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TW:IN is a global network of marketing and business-savvy spotters. Think you’ve got what it takes to become part of the trend revolution? Apply to join today.

Santiago: The South American city that embodies the (G)LOCAL mindset

Our LOCAL LOVE series invites one of our Super Spotters from TrendWatching’s Insight Network to explore the trends and innovations that are shaping their local environment (previous editions include everywhere from Lisbon to New Delhi). The next stop on the trip? Santiago, Chile, where Rotterdam-born spotter Jeanine Leenheer is now studying.

Over to you, Jeanine!

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What is your favorite thing to do in the city?

The most important thing for me to do in a city I’m not familiar with is discovering hidden places. I arrived in Santiago over two months ago without any expectations. For me, that’s the best thing to do: being open-minded and go with the flow. I like to take the side streets and discover local spots; Santiago is a huge city compared to Rotterdam, where I was born, so there is plenty of opportunities to do so!

One of my favourite things to do here in Santiago is to take a random bus to an unknown place to discover the lovely local restaurants and shops. Last time I ended up in Barrio Lastarria – which turned out to be a lucky pick as I tried the tea from Elefan-té and ate something from El Chilean Way Foodtruck. Plus, I found myself in the herd of the Ruta Diseño market.

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Are there any specific consumer trends you’re seeing in your local area right now?

Chileans attach value to their roots & wings, which is wonderful to see. They are super friendly and always willing to help, and love to share their cultural habits with foreign people.

On the one hand a consumer trend I am discovering in Santiago is LOCAL LOVE, but on the other hand I see the growing desire of the habitants to be more connected with the world. I would say that this fits the (G)LOCAL mindset – whereby Chileans strive to be more connected with the world while still remaining fiercely proud their own cultural traditions. What I also noticed here in Santiago is the influence of Americanization, Easternization and Westernization.

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What major changes are you most excited about over the next 5-10 years? And how do you think it will change the consumers in your city?

I believe that a lot will change over the next 5-10 years! Santiago is now at the beginning of a new era of innovation, but Chileans are never in a hurry – they do everything ‘tranquillo’! This means that innovations will come, but in their own time.

Just over a month ago, the first smart city event in Santiago was organised with more than 60 experts from over the world. At the event, the experts spoke about innovation, resilience, green buildings, the Internet of things, digital transfers and the public order. The event is a good example of the new way of thinking in Santiago about resources, climate change, inequality and an increasing population.

As well as this, last June saw Santiago win the Sustainable Transport Award – showing how, in recent years, a lot of improvements have been made: increasing the number safe sidewalks for pedestrians, more cycle paths, cycling educations programs in primary school and more trees being planted (to name but a few!).

Another cool example is Awto, a car sharing website where you can rent a car for minutes, hours or days. I’d be thrilled to see more infrastructural changes over the next 8 years. More changes will come, but always in the Chilean way. The city is developing itself to a more innovative, smart sustainable, self-expressed, forward-looking city.

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TW:IN is a global network of marketing and business-savvy spotters. Think you’ve got what it takes to become part of the trend revolution? Apply to join today.

Trends Go Social part 2: A new dawn of personalization, and the importance of place

Image credit in order of appearance: FT Blog (cover image), Borrow My Doggy

The first in our series with We Are Social explored the relationship between STATUS SEEKERS and BETTERMENT and some key social trends of the moment. Part Two sees us unpack two more mega-trends from our broader Trend Framework – YOUNIVERSE and LOCAL LOVE – to uncover how these big, slow-moving consumer currents translate to the social sphere. 

Missed the first edition and want to get the full picture (including our definition of a Trend Framework, and why you need one)? You can do so right here. If not, it’s time to dive in!

YOUNIVERSE

YOUNIVERSE: What, why and what next

Why? Because, in the consumer YOUNIVERSE, each individual’s preferences and tastes reign supreme – so customized products, services and experiences have evolved from being revolutionary to near-ubiquitous. In today’s consumption arena, every consumer wants to feel unique, and be served as such.

From the basic – serving a fundamental human need to feel individual, or in control – to the sophisticated (think biometric sensing and facial recognition), brands that can predict consumer preferences or offer post-production customization are the ones that will succeed in this field.

The We Are Social perspective

We’re now at the dawn of a new level of personalisation. Digital user experience is moving away from apps and websites, and towards more intuitive interactions like chat bots or voice based interfaces like Siri and Cortana. The beauty of these experiences is that all the information that the user is served is bespoke to the user, based on their profile, their previous interactions and real word information such as the time of day and location.

Google’s new Allo messaging service comes complete with AI capabilities which can help users find anything from local restaurants to film reviews.

The next step is for a truly integrated and genuinely helpful digital personal assistant. Amazon’s Echo is a speaker, search engine and personal assistant rolled into one. Installed in the home, Echo can learn a dizzying array of skills to suit its owners – from tailored news reports, to diary management, thermostat control or music selection. Hot on its heels is Google Home, which claims to go several steps further in terms of personalisation.

LOCAL LOVE

LOCAL LOVE: What, why & what next

LOCAL LOVE refers to exactly that – why ‘local’ is, and will remain, loved.

Despite globalization, despite online; place still matters. Whether driven by a sense of pride, authenticity, convenience and / or eco-concerns, ‘local’ products, services and knowledge will forever find favor with consumers.

Digital connectivity continues to make the world smaller but, for the much of the world’s population, daily life still revolves around a fixed location, such as a city, province or country. Understanding – or at least acknowledging – evolving definitions of local and in a borderless world might not be easy, but brands prepared to take the risk will gain respect and admiration. Don’t deny place, embrace it.

The We Are Social perspective

Tech and, in particular, smartphones, are often blamed for distracting people from their immediate surroundings, but a number of services are springing up to help people better connect with their local communities. Borrowmydoggie is exactly what it sounds like – an app that puts dog owners in touch with dog lovers in the same area. The dog owner gets a low cost dog-sitting service, and the volunteer gets some much needed time with an adorable pooch.

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Meanwhile, FixMyStreet connects residents with their local authorities to fix neighbourhood problems ranging from litter to potholes. Rather than having to look up the right local authority contact, people can either fill in an online form or just tweet the details to @fixmystreet and the service forwards it to the right person for them.  

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We Are Social’s research and resources offer a unique combination of skills and experience across marketing, creative and technical disciplines, all grounded in a deep understanding of social. You can read more on their social thinking here. You can also sign up for We Are Social’s Think Forward Event on November 3rd. This free event, featuring talks from Trendwatching and IBM, will be held at We Are Social’s offices in Finsbury Square, London. Register your interest at the Eventbrite page.

TrendWatching’s full Trend Framework is available exclusively to clients of  TW:Premium

Missed our webinar on THE FUTURE OF LUXURY? Don't panic - we got you!

Following the publication of our September Briefing, THE FUTURE OF LUXURY, it’s clear we all know that luxury is no longer simply about the supercar, the designer handbag or the expensive holiday. After all, who needs a car when your phone enables on-demand access to your own private driver?

The takeaway? Mass affluence and the amazing lifestyles enabled by ubiquitous connectivity are pushing the frontiers of luxury ever outwards. So, where are the expectations of luxury consumers heading in 2017?

Taking place on Tuesday 28th September, David Mattin, our Global Head of Trends & Insights discussed how mass affluence and the amazing lifestyles enabled by ubiquitous connectivity are pushing the frontiers of luxury ever outwards. And, through real-world innovations from brands including Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton and Hunter VIII Hunter, showed that you can too!

But what if you missed the webinar first time round? Don’t panic! A recording of David’s presentation is available below (or via our YouTube channel). 

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

The Pink Bra: A local solution to a universal problem

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month taking place all over the world throughout the month of October, we took some time to catch up with some of the innovators truly changing the game when it comes to preventing the disease. 

In the first of a two-part series, we asked the team at Tonic International – the Dubai-based agency that worked with Pink Ribbon Pakistan to create the PinkBra, a bra designed to help underprivileged women detect early signs of breast cancer.

They first featured in our INNOVATION CELEBRATION briefing back in June, and embody our (F)EMPOWERMENT trend – looking at how brands are empowering females and thinking beyond gender stereotypes, not just those they help. 

Bra-4-PocketInterior-TactileDetail

The Pink Bra was inspired by the desire to find a local solution to a universal problem. Our own families have suffered from Breast Cancer, so we knew first-hand the problems of communication about the disease in Pakistan.

Here, every time you speak to an underprivileged woman about breast cancer, you will be met with silence.

The taboo on women speaking openly about their health is so strong that majority of lives lost can be attributed to the fear of speaking up.  Early diagnosis is the difference between saving a life and losing it. So we knew we had to enable women to find the symptoms themselves, without trying to break down cultural barriers but rather work around them. The task was to reach and educate women in the privacy of their own homes.

Bra-2-PocketHandGesture

An insight gave us the opening we so needed. It’s common to see underprivileged women tuck money inside their bra. This is because the traditional outfit ‘shalwar kameez’ does not come with pockets.

This gave us a chance to turn that action into a self-examining exercise.

We remodeled the bra that women from the lower socio-economic group wore. It looked like an ordinary bra, but it came with pockets. Inside the pockets were raised tactile outlines that guided a woman’s hand and told her where exactly to press to self-examine. Easy-to-understand illustrations inside the cups of the bra educated women on each step of the self-test in detail.

It took into consideration that our target audience was mainly illiterate and could read only a few words and numbers. Our product offered a discrete telephone hotline where women who followed the instructions and suspected they had breast cancer could call to get free advice on how to tackle the disease. Often one-to-one personalized and practical advice matters much more than long brochures and documentaries.

Bra-1-Overview

Finding a client with the guts to use a bra as a medium of communication wasn’t easy. Luckily, Pink Ribbon Pakistan came through with their young, bold team willing to embrace the crazy idea of using a bra as a behavior change tool.

We are hoping that others benefit from our learning.

It’s always important to open your eyes and ears to existing behaviors and local insights when trying to work with behavior change and awareness of complex or taboo subjects. Don’t try and break down barriers, instead work around them within the cultural context. This means taking more time to be inspired by what’s already there rather than unnecessarily imposing something new and alien.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

'If customer is King, engage the King!' - The neuro-science secret we can use to explore the Expectation Economy

In our latest post in our partnership with TAAN, we delve into the realms of neuroscience to explore the questions raised by the ever-increasing expectations of the modern consumers – from emotional bonds to tried-and-tested research.

Engaged customers are a company’s richest resource. They bring in higher sales and profits, are tolerant of your flaws and are less likely to switch to the competition.

According to Gallup’s research, fully engaged customers lead to a 23% increase in business income, as opposed to customers who are not engaged or are actively disengaged, who in turn account for a revenue drop of 1% and 18% respectively. Furthermore, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability with as much as 75%.

However, engaging customers is easier said than done.

There are multiple reasons for which customers are increasingly disengaged with brands: from the increase in online shopping, to the decrease in innovation gaps between brands and to the fact that companies just can’t keep up with the expectations of ever-demanding customers. Therefore, as customers develop shorter attention spans and have higher expectations, they will find that brands become less relevant to them and will therefore fuel the disengagement trend.

With “millennials”, the figures are grim: they have the lowest level of engagement, both as customers (around 75%) and as employees (71%), according to a Gallup study. But, on the other hand, engaged millennials are more profitable and loyal than the other customer groups, states the same study. Therein lies the challenge and the opportunity. Giving up on engagement and focusing on transactional efficiency is not therefore the answer. The key lies in creating new strategies and effective tactics to reach this elusive goal.

One of the top challenges with building customer engagement comes from the lack of accurate customer insights, according to a study performed by Microsoft last year. Without knowing what your customers want from your products or services, you simply cannot make them happy. Gone are those days when, if you had this truly great product that satisfied a customer’s needs, long-term loyalty would be implied and secured. Today, it is so easy to find new and better alternatives, to products and services, and most times a customer doesn’t have to look too far to find them either. As a result of being part of the global digital ecosystem, customers are actively setting different consumer trends, while companies and brands are busy trying to keep up with them.

And the irony of it all? Despite all these efforts, most companies end up losing customers anyway, and in the end, they still don’t know why!

Therefore, in-depth customer knowledge allows you to craft your offers in a compelling manner that will draw their attention and convince them to give you a try.

Then, what differentiates engaged or loyal customers from merely satisfied ones? Loyal customers have an emotional bond with the company or brand which translates into turning a blind eye to the company’s flaws. Additionally, loyalty has this amazing property of creating an exit barrier that practically helps you retain customers, particularly when they are approached and “bribed” by other companies into jumping ship. 

This emotional bond, however, is difficult to measure via traditional research methodologies that use rational constructs to evaluate emotional connections and declarative answers to assess non-conscious reactions.

Enter Neuroscience

By using cutting edge neuro tools, neuroscience provides deep, accurate and unbiased consumer insights that constitute the starting point of any customer engagement journey. It does so by recording and interpreting brain and biometric reactions that are collected using specialized equipment like EEG, fMRI, eye-tracking, GSR and facial recognition, to name just a few. These reactions represent the physiological substrate of the non-conscious processes that take place in customer’s minds when they interact with a brand or product. They are unbiased and accurate, as they are not subject to conscious evaluation and filtering.

Customer engagement in banking

Marketing theory is rife with examples of how in any commoditized industry, exit barriers for incumbent customers are pretty much non-existent. And the banking industry is a good example, being highly competitive and commoditized. If there ever was designated an industry in need of higher engagement, it would surely be retail banking.

Customers’ attitude towards money, debt, savings, security have undergone deep changes during the last years. Their expectations about a bank’s role in their lives has also consequently changed. Despite this reality, banks still persist in an obsolete approach to customer engagement, where transactional efficiency combined with high powered message assailing equals engagement. These strategies developed in the past are outdated and banks end up spending huge budgets on devising loyalty strategies to keep their customers engaged.

Customers desire unique experiential relationships with their banks. Relationships that are rooted in their own individual contexts and not some standardized one-size-fits-all approach that is currently strategy du jour! Such deep context-driven expectations do not fall in clearly defined demographic groups, but they rather transcend age and gender. Therefore, the classical demographic segmentation fails to provide an accurate image of the customers’ desires, contexts, needs and wants.

Segmenting customers on experiential dimensions, on the other hand, and using these experiential segments to map customer journeys will lead to the design, blueprint and delivery of unique and relevant customer engagement strategies. Given the richness of insights and outputs, such an approach also serves as an excellent input for the bank’s own internal operational challenges, shortcomings, re-designs and for the subsequent internal re-orientation required for a truly customer-centric approach.

Neuro-powered Customer Engagement

Customer Engagement, if thought through and leveraged well, can truly serve as a sustainable competitive advantage. Great customer engagement starts with unbiased, deep, rooted insights, not just about the product or offer, but also about customers’ contexts. For these are personal and drive decision-making. Contexts that even customers are unaware of when they make those decisions.

Neuroscience has the ability and the means/resources to deliver these insights.

Coupling such deep non-conscious insights with experiential segmentation, allows organizations and businesses to craft and deliver on great customer engagement.

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About the authors

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Dr. Ana Iorga, right, is a consumer neuroscience expert who has spent over a decade in working with business as well as academia. Having founded one of the fastest growing full service advertising agencies in Romania, she has deep expertise in the world of design, communication, branding and the creation of marketing campaigns for brands across diverse industries such as Consumer Goods, Retail, Finance and Media.

Spanning a professional career of over two decades, Anil Pillai, co-founder of Terragni Consulting, is an experienced engagement strategy expert. He currently heads the Customer Consulting practice at Terragni Consulting, a People & Customer engagement strategy organization, part of the team that has seen the company named as one of the 25 most promising consulting companies in India.

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They are both members of TAANOperating since 1936, TAAN exists to enhance the intelligence, expertise, reach and effectiveness of their members, through cooperative learning and shared capabilities

Heading towards the light: Philips, Starbucks and the innovative fight against dark, winter mornings

In April, our FUTURE OF BETTERMENT unpacked the five trends shaping health and wellness. One of the key innovations that featured? EnergyUp cafes – where Philips introduced their daylight lamps to local Starbucks branches to offer a revitalising, two-pronged top-up for visitors. We picked the brains of Raúl Santamaría Learte, the Global Product Manager at Philips, as he shed some light on therapeutic qualities of the technology.  

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What was the inspiration behind the EnergyUp cafes?

The inspiration for this collaboration was born in our Philips Nordics’ offices. It was the month of September when our marketing manager was looking for ideas to make people understand that there are no reasons to feel low on energy on dark, winter mornings.

We all know that coffee can boost your energy levels at the beginning of the day, but there is a complementary and more natural way to do so: light therapy!

This is when we reached out to a local marketing specialist at Starbucks to present the following idea: “What if Philips and Starbucks partner up for a short collaboration, in which Starbucks visitors get a double energy boost by having a nice latte in combination with a session of light therapy?”

The idea was well received and it was then rolled out to other Starbucks locations across Europe (i.e. France, Benelux and Germany). To make it even more impactful, we decided to kick it off on one of the saddest days of the year: “Blue Monday”.

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What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

Even though we are one of the top players in light therapy worldwide, we still struggle with increasing the awareness of our EnergyUp range. This is the reason why we always try to come up with inexpensive and creative ways to get the word out. On the other hand, our short-term expectation is that new players will join us in the marketplace, and that people all over the world will keep making an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives. These two elements will definitely help us in making the energy-by-light concept more and more accepted among the population (as it should be ;).

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

I believe that the best way to know what consumers want is by talking to them. Just with a quick online survey / social media campaign you can ask your (potential) consumers how they feel and what their pains are. Once this information is in your power, it is much easier to infer how to help them satisfy their needs.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

I was very impressed with the portable oxygen devices that Philips has recently launched. These devices allow people with COPD respiratory problems to turn their dream of singing in a choir into reality.

Another innovation that caught my eye in the past weeks is GravityLight. This device is aiming at solving the electricity problem in developing countries, where the average household spends around 10-20% of their income in kerosene lamps. With this small lamp, you just need to get some sand or rocks at the bottom to get 20mins of electricity. Frankly impressive!

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I mentioned the above two innovations because they are simple and attempt to improve peoples’ lives. In my opinion, these are the two goals every new innovation should aim for.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

Get Through & Get READ! Our 7-step framework for creating marketing emails people actually open, read and like!

Whether you like it or not, email marketing is still the number one marketing channel. But, as email fatigue increases and attention spans continue to plummet, how do you cut through the flood of promotional emails cluttering inboxes? Here’s a look at the framework we developed over the last year and a half (and some 1,202 email campaigns later!).

SEVEN STEPS TO EMAIL SUCCESS 

After a lot of email campaigns (326 to be precise over the last year alone) and a lot of analysis, we identified the seven components that were common to our most successful campaigns. What do we mean by “successful campaigns”?

Yes, they’re the ones with the highest open, click-through and conversion rates. But they’re also the ones where we’ve had people proactively get in touch with us to thank us for sending them (!!!) because they found the campaign inspiring, valuable or simply because it made them smile. People contacting us to thank us for sending them a marketing email? It does happen. And that’s pretty much the ultimate success metric as far as we’re concerned!

SOMETIMES THE BEST CATS CAN GYRATE EXCITEDLY!

So… Sometimes The Best Cats Can Gyrate Excitedly! We came up with this simple and very random mnemonic to help keep us focused on the seven key elements we identified that make for successful campaigns. Have we lost it? Probably. Does it work? Most of the time!

[1] S

Is the email SCANNABLE? – If you weren’t reading any copy or text, would the key message(s) be effectively relayed by glancing at section headers, images & bolded text? 

[2] T

Have you woven in TOPICAL elements? –  This can range from topical references to news, events or other ‘recognisable & relevant’ events going on in the world (Brexit, Valentines Day, etc.), or topical to the user by being PAIN-POINT driven (ie. lack of time, Senior leadership buy-in, etc.)?

[3] B

Is the marketing of any product features BENEFITS-LED? – Vs. Features-led. Spend time truly understanding how your product helps solve your customers’ problems, then SPELL IT OUT. 

[4&5] CC

Is the tone of the email CONVERSATIONAL and CONSPIRATORIAL? – Vs. overly formal, and littered with internal or industry jargon? Does it feel like you’re on the recipient’s side and “in-it-together”? The tone of your copy will vary from product and industry – but keeping things easy to read & digest (conversational) and truly understanding what makes your readers tick (or shudder!) will mean a conspiratorial tone follows naturally. 

[6] G

Is the tone and content of the email GENEROUS? ie. Are you giving away genuinely valuable free content and insights (note genuinely valuable, the last thing we all need is more content and more clutter)? Same applies to discounts and promotions – be generous, it’ll pay off.  

[7] E

Is the concept, content and copy of your campaign EXCITING? This is the trickiest one to get right, and you can’t really fake it or force it (genuinely nothing worse – #cringe).  The times we’ve got it right, its been on campaigns we’ve genuinely had fun creating. From concept to copy, we’ve been excited about it…and that translates.

SEE CATS GYRATING EXCITEDLY IN ACTION 

Broadly, we send 5 types of emails. I’ve split these out below. See if you can spot any Cats Gyrating Excitedly as you skim through them. And be gentle – whilst they may not be perfect, a marketer or two most likely aged a few years racing against the clock trying to get these right (and out!).

1) TOPICAL/HUMOR-DRIVEN: These are emails centred around TOPICAL issues and PAIN-POINTS using a CONVERSATIONAL and CONSPIRATORIAL tone. They generally weave in playful gifs or images. 

Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit C, Exhibit D, Exhibit E

Brexit

2) PURELY VISUAL: These are emails are highly VISUAL and SCANNABLE, conveying the core message primarily through imagery. [Sidenote: you need a killer design team to execute these – kudos to ours – they rock.]

Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit C, Exhibit D

Iceberg

3) FEATURE ANNOUNCEMENT EMAILS: These are highly VISUAL, easily SCANNABLE and introduce the new feature via BENEFITS-LED messaging. 

Exhibit A

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4) SAMPLE CONTENT-LED CAMPAIGNS: These are highly GENEROUS through the sharing of exclusive content (that could be a webinar, a sample of exclusive TW:Premium content, etc.) 

Exhibit AExhibit B

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5) URGENCY-BASED CAMPAIGNS: These are focused on building urgency through the use of BENEFITS-LED messaging, positioned in an easily SCANNABLE and VISUAL way, all the while using a CONVERSATIONAL tone :) 

Exhibit AExhibit B, Exhibit C

Procrastinating

“THANK YOU FOR SENDING ME A MARKETING EMAIL” – SAID NO ONE EVER SOME AWESOME PEOPLE!

Seriously, some people are awesome. Instead of cursing us for clogging up their inbox with yet another promotional email, every now and again we get a thumbs up. Yes, we know its just an email campaign and not a public service announcement. But us marketers obsess over these mailshots – so when we get a thank you instead of an unsubscribe, that sure as hell makes it worth it ;)

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Marina and the marketing team at TrendWatching help make sure our free Monthly Trend Briefings reach the 250K+ subscribers who read them each month, get the word out about TrendWatching’s online trend intelligence platform, TW:Premium, and help get bums on seats across TrendWatching’s global Trend Event series.

Bridging a cultural divide: How Tunga mobilized coders in East Africa (and built a community in the process)

In areas where connectivity is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity, it’s up to innovators to find ways to utilize an emergent, hungry workforce. We caught up with Ernesto Spruyt, Founder of Tunga – an online social network that connects young African programmers with tech companies looking for help with software that appeared in our 16 Innovations from 2016 briefing in June – to talk us through community, culture and restoring the confidence of consumers. 

TungaTW

What was the inspiration behind Tunga? And what have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced while both developing the idea and establishing yourselves within the market?

I am an experienced social entrepreneur and was facing a problem that many software companies face: flexible access to affordable software expertise. Not being satisfied with the available solutions, and as someone who is always looking for opportunities to create social impact, I teamed up with social innovation studio Butterfly Works to create what is now Tunga.

In the year 2000, Butterfly Works had set up NairoBits – a digital design school in Kenya, providing youths (50% female) from disadvantaged backgrounds with relevant technical, creative, business and social skills. The concept has been replicated across East Africa and South Asia under the name of Bits Academy, resulting in a community of more than 7000 trained youths of which 80% now have a job or is a business owner.

My idea from the start was to open up the market for African software programmers by developing a new kind of marketplace, one that includes social network functionalities: a market network. From the outset it was easy to find clients and also to mobilize coders from Uganda and Kenya with sufficient programming skills to successfully complete assignments for them. Our real challenge was to bridge the cultural divide in communication and working methods, as not many African developers have a lot of experience working in western environments.

What is your top tip to other professionals who seek to better understand, and stay ahead of, consumers’ changing expectations?

Tunga has tackled the challenge I just described in a number of ways: providing training & workshops, community building, and most importantly, by constantly translating feedback and experiences from the pilot projects into functionality on its online platform. And as far as I’m concerned this the best way to stay on top of changing customer behaviour: to literally stay on top of the customer. We are in constant contact with our clients and developer community, track user data, engage with stakeholders and have a policy of continuously introducing, testing and evaluating features.

You’re featured in our INNOVATION CELEBRATION briefing, falling under our ENTREPRENEURIA trend – showing how businesses that dive into and fuel this endless rush toward entrepreneurialism will attract love and attention from all consumers, not just those they help. Where do you see this strand of consumer behavior and expectation heading?

I think marketing and advertising in the past have gotten a bad reputation because they have been misused to deceive consumers instead of to serve them. Now, there seems to be a whole new generation of entrepreneurs that are once again putting the consumers’ needs first. In the end brands are about trust. So in the longer run, entrepreneurs who are able to create a customer-centric and consistent culture within their company are definitely bound for success.

What was your favorite recent innovation and why?

In the end, I believe that the best innovations come from trying to address real problems of real people in a way that business-wise makes sense. That’s why I love BitPesa, a company that uses blockchain technology to provide Africans with easy and affordable access to international payments. They really seem to succeed in putting a new technology as the blockchain to good use for both business and society.

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Our free Trend Briefings are published monthly, featuring the latest innovation opportunities and most exciting new trends set to shape the next 12 months (and beyond!). To get them sent straight to your inbox as they are released, you can subscribe here.

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