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Research

Typical online purchases involve seven steps taking three hours

Shoppers work through several stages before making a significant buy via the internet, which includes spending at least 35 minutes deciding whether a purchase is absolutely necessary.

Following that, an online search for a product or service, including on social media sites, will take place over the next 33 minutes.

And the survey of 2,000 adults found an average of 30 minutes is then spent reading online reviews and recommendations, with the average shopper avoiding a purchase if something has less than 3.4 stars out of five.

While one in 10 wouldn’t buy something with 99 five-star ratings if it has just a single one-star review.

Half an hour will also be spent narrowing down the choices between brands by comparing to other similar products for price and quality.

Other steps include sharing potential purchases with friends or family, putting something into a virtual basket – then the final hurdle of completing the transaction.

The research was commissioned by Vision Direct, whose CMO, Ashley Mealor, said: “As purchasers are spending so long scouring reviews, it is so important for businesses, especially those operating online, to be accurately and fairly represented.

“We recognise there are some brands which have reviews that cannot be trusted, as those writing them have been incentivised to do so.

“Implemented for the main purpose of generating favourable online appraisals, the concept of proposing incentives or hosting competitions can be misleading and skew authenticity.

“It’s encouraging to see platforms such as Trustpilot, starting to take great steps to ensure it is a level playing field for all by revising regulations and stopping all consumer incentives – to address a controversial grey area.

“With the prevalence of dishonest reviews online, the seven stages of shopping feels like a sensible way of ensuring a purchase – particularly one of value – is made well.

“You are then not just relying on reviews, but also word of mouth, social media, customer service and brand comparisons.”

The research also found 62 per cent of respondents think of themselves as ‘considered’ purchasers – who don’t buy without thoroughly researching the item first.

However, 14 per cent are happy to describe themselves as an ‘impulse’ buyer, who shops first then asks questions later.

But Brits would not consider something to be a ‘significant’ purchase if it fell below the £163 price point – and the last time they spent more than £100, they deliberated for eight days.

And 31 per cent are more likely to make a significant buy online, while 25 per cent would rather do it face-to-face – with the remainder not caring either way.

Although consumers are more likely to be suckered by an impulse purchase in a real-life store, than by something they see online (30 per cent vs 23 per cent.)

It also emerged that in order to ‘fully trust’ a brand, Brits want to receive their goods in perfect condition (45 per cent), experience super-quick delivery (26 per cent) and be on the receiving end of exceptional customer service (41 per cent).

But while 78 per cent of shoppers leave online reviews after using a company, just under half are more likely to do so if they are offered an incentive like money off their next order, or a chance to win a prize.

However, a huge 83 per cent of those polled via OnePoll believe unscrupulous sites or brands often put up fake positive reviews to try and trick people into buying their goods.

Ashley Mealor added: “Our study found online reviews to be hugely important to lots of people – half say they are important, especially when considering eyewear or eye medication.

“It can be hard sometimes to know whether an online review can be trusted, particularly where your health is concerned.

“This is where the fifth stage of shopping – getting real-world feedback from people you know in real life – can be hugely beneficial.

“If somebody you know and trust is willing to recommend something that word-of-mouth review is worth its weight in gold to any manufacturer.”

THE SEVEN STAGES OF SHOPPING
1. Deciding on a need for something – 35 minutes
2. An online search for the product you want including social media sites – 33 minutes
3. Reading online reviews and going through recommendations – 29 minutes
4. Narrowing down between brands by comparing to other similar products for price and quality – 31 minutes
5. Share links with friends and family – 14 minutes
6. Getting something into your online or real-life basket – 19 minutes
7. Actually making the purchase – 24 minutes
TOTAL – 185 minutes – 3 hours and 5 minutes

Ransomware

47% of employees in Marketing lacking cyber security skills

Cyber security remains one of the most challenging issues for business owners – large and small. And it seems data breaches cost UK enterprises an average of $3.88million per breach – according to IBM. 

And considering much of the global workforce is now remote, it has never been more important for employees to be cyber aware. 

Specops Software recently found that Clickjacking is the most common form of hacking in education at 66%. Whilst Phishing was extremely prevalent among other key industries at 71%.

This prompted the company to investigate the industries without sufficient cyber security training by surveying 1,342 businesses across 11 sectors across the UK. 

On average, just 41% of employees across all sectors surveyed have not been provided adequate cyber security training. 

It is perhaps unsurprising that those working in Travel and Hospitality have not been adequately trained against cyber threats (84%). It comes after EasyJet was recently targeted in a serious cyber-attack whereby email addresses and travel details for around 9 million customers was breached. 

In second place is Education and Training. 69% of respondents who work in this industry claim they have not been trained sufficiently against cyber threats – a worrying statistic as breaches compromise student and staff safety. In fact, cyber attacks have been increasing year-on-year as more instances are reported, with four key reasons attackers target educational institutions: DDoS attacks, Data theft, financial gain, and espionage. 

Other key industries that have not provided sufficient training include Marketing, Advertising and PR (47%), Medical and Health (42%) and Charity and Voluntary Work with 29%. 

Understandably, the sectors with far more stringent cyber security training processes include Legal Services (16%) and Recruitment and HR (19%). 

Specops also sought to find out if the level of cyber security training had changed since the beginning of COVID-19.

Out of the 1,342 respondents, the results revealed the following:  

  • I have been trained a lot more since COVID-19 – 21%
  • I have been trained a little more since COVID-19 – 37%
  • I have not been trained since COVID-19 – 42%
Business Sector% of businesses that have since implemented cyber security training sessions since COVID-19 
Education and Training76%
Medical and Health65%
Computer and IT39%
Travel and Hospitality37%
Customer Service23%
Creative Arts and Design22%
Charity and Voluntary Work15%
Marketing, Advertising and PR13%
Legal Services13%
Accountancy, Banking and Finance10%
Recruitment and HR8%

Specops Software found on average just 29% of business sectors have initiated additional cyber security training. 

94% of respondents claimed it was the responsibility of their company to keep them up to date with cyber security training, whilst 79% could not identify if they were hacked.

To further complement the survey, Specops Software’s Cyber Security Expert Darren James has provided some expertise:

  1. Why is it important for all employees to be trained?

The fact of the matter is that you can put as many security systems and procedures in place as you wish, but usually the weakest link is always the human being involved. Providing cyber security training is essential. Subjects such as password hygiene, email scam/phishing/malware awareness, social media usage etc. are important and the more attention we can bring to it via training at work, the less likely people in general will fall victim to these crimes.

2. Should companies integrate training on a regular basis and how often?

Generally, it’s a good idea to provide basic training to everyone, and to all new employees, so everyone is at least on the same page. Then, it is a good idea to promote awareness through the use of a good password policy, and maybe when IT experience interactions with users e.g. service desk/desktop support etc. provide further reminders where appropriate. Some “high risk” users such as IT admins, HR and finance teams should have regular awareness training.

3. What can companies do to ensure training is kept up to date, especially now everyone is working from home? 

Working from home represents another challenge when providing training. You can send emails out or put something on an extranet/intranet page, but let’s be honest not many people are going to willingly go and look. Try arranging a “working from home cyber security awareness” call if possible – whether it is per team, or with team managers who can then pass on key information. 

Please see the full research here: https://specopssoft.com/blog/uk-business-sectors-lacking-cyber-security-training/

Brands ‘struggled to respond empathically’ to Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter

While most brands want to be more empathic to social change and global issues affecting customers, many have struggled to respond effectively to recent events such as Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter.

That’s according to new research, which says 81% of brand representatives surveyed in July said they adapted their marketing due to Covid-19, while 60% found it difficult to display appropriate empathy when doing so.

The research among 250 senior marketing decision makers in the UK was conducted by Sapio on behalf of marketing AI company datasine

Over 90% of marketers are trying to be more empathic in their marketing campaigns which shows a genuine understanding of the need to respond to issues and societal events impacting consumers and audiences. However, 75% said they were unable to respond quickly enough to rapidly developing situations such as Covid-19.

Empathy has increased in importance for brands and marketers during 2020. 84% of those surveyed said that the need to respond to events with empathy has increased over the past 6 months. The top three empathy focuses identified in the research for brands right now are:

  1. Covid-19
  2. Black Lives Matter
  3. Mental Health

The two most common barriers stopping brands from responding faster and more effectively to change are; the inability to measure and analyse sentiment; and a lack of knowledge around how to use data to predict the success of future campaigns, both at 38%. To help solve these issues and others, 97% of brands want to adopt technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, to help them use data more effectively for predictive analysis and automated decision making.

Emma Bonar, head of digital, Les Girls Les Boys, said: “Now more than ever it’s vital that we are able to demonstrate that we do empathise with our customers – after all these are issues that really do affect all of us. There’s a need to respond quickly and appropriately to changes in sentiment, which is where AI can help us use data to make the right decisions, and make them fast.”

Chris Loy, CTO, datasine, added: “A brand’s ability to respond rapidly and appropriately to external events affecting its audiences and customers has probably never been tested more than it has in the past six months. Truthfully, it’s becoming critical to their success. Digital marketing demands instantaneous response to the things that are happening in the world. That requires marketing professionals to be able to use data to adapt their creatives, message, visual and textual content on a continual basis in line with changing audience attitudes.

Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay 

Marketing spend expected to rebound post-COVID

The latest IPA Bellwether Report asserts that ad and marketing spend will rebound in 2021, following budgets being slashed to their lowest levels in twenty years due to the impact of the coronavirus.

The net balance of firms that cut marketing budgets fell to -50.7% in Q2, down from -6.1% in Q1, with almost 64% of panel members having registered a decrease in spending compared to the first quarter, while only 13% posted an increase. These figures supersede the Report’s previous nadir of -41.7% evidenced in Q4 2008, following the global financial crisis.

The report says anecdotal evidence suggests that many businesses were focused on cutting costs amid the severe declines in revenue caused by the pandemic. Although firms utilised the UK government’s furlough scheme to ease the burden of staff costs, other reductions were required in order for many businesses to survive. Service sector companies faced particularly challenging circumstances, with little-to-no access to their clients amid enforced closures.

With coronavirus restrictions prohibiting anything other than small gatherings, funding for events marketing saw the sharpest reduction in the second quarter. A net balance of -76.6% of panellists registered a decline in events budgets, with more than 80% reporting a decrease. Just 3.6% posted a rise.

Main media advertising, crucial for brand exposure, also reported a steep decline in Q2. In fact, the reduction in budgets was the most severe since the survey’s inception, with a net balance of -51.1% of marketing executives seeing a decline in available spend. Underlying data within this main media category suggested the worst performing sub-category was out of home advertising (-61.2%). This was followed by audio (-50.0%), published brands (-49.2%), video (-39.3%) and other online (-35.1%).

Across each of the seven broad marketing types, direct marketing and public relations saw the joint-softest budget cuts in the second quarter, although with net balances of -41.6%, the downturns were still severe overall. Meanwhile, market research (-42.2%), sales promotions (-51.2%) and other marketing expenditure (-59.2%) each saw historic reductions for their respective categories.

Bellwether panellists remained pessimistic towards financial prospects in the second quarter of 2020, casting more downbeat assessments on both own-company and industry-wide finances.

Sentiment on own-company prospects plunged far deeper into negative territory compared to the first quarter, when the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was only just beginning to become apparent. In the second quarter, precisely two-thirds of survey participants reported a pessimistic outlook for finances against 11.5% that expected an improvement, taking the net balance to -55.1%. The result represented the most severe degree of negativity since the fourth quarter of 2008 when the net balance measured -57.7%.

Reporting on industry-wide prospects, firms were also more pessimistic in the second quarter. In the latest survey period, 72.4% of businesses were pessimistic on financial prospects compared to just 6.4% that were optimistic. As a result, a net balance of exactly -66% of firms were downbeat, eclipsing the recent low of -42.0% registered in Q1. The latest reading pointed to the most negative outlook since the final months of 2008, at the nadir of the global financial crisis, when the net balance stood lower at -71.1%.

Following the global coronavirus outbreak and resulting lockdown measures, Bellwether author IHS Markit anticipates steep contractions in several key economic indicators during 2020. With many businesses temporarily closed throughout the majority of the second quarter, IHS Markit is expecting a -11.9% decline in GDP for the year as a whole. This forecast assumes that the gradual easing of UK lockdown measures continues over the coming months, allowing an increasing number of businesses to fully reopen and begin to claw back some of the lost revenue from the months of March, April and May.

Given the current economic climate, the Bellwether model points to a -11.3% reduction in adspend during 2020. However, this figure is heavily dependent on most sectors in the UK economy remaining open for the rest of the year, with a second wave of coronavirus infections a significant downside risk.

Looking forward, IHS Markit anticipates a robust recovery in macroeconomic conditions during 2021 as businesses move closer to operating at full capacity. This would translate into a predicted +4.9% expansion in GDP and implied adspend growth of +6.0%. Beyond that, it expects the economy to achieve above-average growth during a further recovery phase, before stabilising near long-run rates in 2024 and 2025.

Paul Bainsfair, IPA Director General, said: “As we suspected, these Q2 Bellwether figures reveal the very grave impact of COVID-19 on UK companies’ marketing budgets, financial prospects and employment plans. Understandably companies in the most severely disrupted sectors have had few options but to preserve cash and operations to survive until trading conditions are more benign. We can only hope that the range of Government aid – from VAT cuts to the Eat Out scheme, in addition to the furlough scheme and more, can help to facilitate this.

“While the future trajectory of the economy is unpredictable, however, that of brands starved of marketing investment is much clearer. Our evidence from previous recessions and periods of buoyancy consistently shows that cutting marketing investment weakens brands in the near-term and limits growth and profitability in the long-term.”

Businesses can deliver incremental revenue using variable digital print

Using variable digital print delivered one retailer 128% incremental revenue vs control – that’s according to an industry report from the Go Inspire Group, which also reveals that simply increasing design vibrancy, delivered a 20% uplift vs control.

The research determined that reflecting a customers’ individual preferences, by utilising enhanced personalisation and variability to tailor product imagery, offer and a range of other factors, can deliver a monumental difference in incremental revenue, from direct mail campaigns. 

The study also shares further recommendations for variability including:

• Personalised catalogues and brochure content

• Personalised barcodes 

• Personalised links to digital content

• Personalised offer periods 

• Segmented event invitations 

Visit here for the full paper and all its recommendations.

Coronavirus: ‘Content marketing imperative grows’

Many marketing organisations lack the necessary capabilities and processes to keep pace with a growing content marketing imperative amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to new strategic report from the CMO Council.

Cleary, the impact of COVID-19 on face-to-face business interactions, particularly large gatherings, has been swift and pervasive.

Content will need to pick up the slack, according to Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of CMO Council and author of the strategic brief, Making Content Marketing Convert.

“Marketers must act quickly and decisively to increase the impact, scope, reach and return of their content marketing investments in 2020,” said Manuel Hüttl, Senior Vice President Europe beim CMO Council. “Our research also shows there is a critical need for marketing organizations to bring more discipline and strategic thinking to content specification, delivery and analytics.”

Developed in partnership with NetLine the report provides insights into the problems marketing organisations face in elevating the business impact of content development, distribution and lead conversion. It also provides a concise set best practices, along with a self-assessment check list for lead performance improvement.

Among CMO Council research insights that underscore the problems and shortcomings in current content marketing initiatives:

  • Only 12 percent of marketers believe their content marketing programs targets the right audiences with relevant and persuasive content.
  • Only 21 percent say they are sufficiently partnered with their sales counterparts in developing and measuring demand generation programs.
  • Most view their content marketing process as ad hoc, decentralized and driven by internal stakeholder, rather than customer, interests.
  • While 88 percent of business buyers say online content impacts vendor selection, just nine percent think of vendors as trusted sources of content.

The report offers commentary and advice on the top 10 essentials for effective authority leadership-driven content marketing:

  1. Partner with credible + trusted sources
  2. Produce relevant + compelling strategic insights
  3. Add customer-contributed views + validation
  4. Present authoritative, newsworthy and enriched content
  5. Engage qualified, verified and predisposed audiences
  6. Target the whole influencer, specifier + buyer ecosystem
  7. Embrace multi-channel distribution, promotion + syndication
  8. Authenticate content consumption and buyer engagement
  9. Ensure lead legitimacy and compliance 
  10. Cultivate, Activate and convert prospect flow

It also offers a set of best practices for lead lifecycle management. These practices cover:

  • Functional alignment between marketing and sales
  • Lead qualification—prioritization and scoring
  • Lead nurturing and relationship development
  • Hand-off and optimization of the conversion process
  • Campaign measurement

Download the report here.

Half of small marketing businesses predicting Q1 growth

Two in five small business leaders (39%) predict growth by 31 March – the highest level for 18 months, according to new research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance.

By industry sector, this quarter sees a rise in growth outlook registered across the board in all but two sectors, with a significant upturn of growth projections in real estate (49%), IT and telecoms (49%), legal (47%) and media (46%). 

In recent weeks, there has been widespread speculation on the likely impact of Brexit on the UK business community. The new data suggests smaller businesses are more likely to see uncertainty as an opportunity. Seasonal businesses, those that live with change and the need to adapt on a regular basis, are more likely to predict growth for the months ahead (40%). Also, small firms that invest in their technology assets are more likely to foresee opportunities to adapt and grow (47%).

Regionally, small businesses in the East (43%) join London (47%) and the North West (45%) as having the most businesses with a positive outlook for the months ahead. Over the last 12-months, there has been a significant upturn in growth predictions in London (rising from 36% to 47%), the South West (from 29% to 38%) East (28% to 43%). In contrast, small enterprises in Wales and Scotland were the least likely to predict growth.

Interestingly, older businesses (those that have been trading the longest) demonstrate the biggest surge in growth outlook, suggesting a willingness to adapt to change. The ‘confidence gap’ between younger and mature businesses shows clear signs of closing. 

Percentage of businesses predicting growth to 31 March by age of business (how many years it has been trading)

 Less than 5 years5-10 years10-20 years20-35 years35+ years
Q1 202045%36%38%34%37%
Q4 201945%38%34%24%26%
Q1 201949%34%33%30%30%

Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance said: “As the UK economy enters a new chapter, the latest findings from our quarterly tracking research suggest that UK small businesses are starting a new year, a new decade and a new economic era with a positive outlook. What is heartening is the diversity of this confidence, which spans regions, sectors and older businesses modernising.“At Hitachi Capital Business Finance we are producing a new series of training and support guides to help small business manage their enterprises through the Brexit transition period. In addition, our smart funding solutions give small businesses greater flexibility in the way they manage their cashflow and help their enterprises through seasonal highs and lows. The UK economy is going through a period of uncertainty – at Hitachi Capital Business Finance we are helping small businesses to live with uncertainty and to see it as an opportunity to innovate and grow.”

Additional Tables Percentage of businesses predicting growth to 31 March by sector

Percentage of businesses predicting growth to 31 March by sector

 Q1 2020 Net % that predict growthQ4 2019 Net % that predict growthQ3 2019 Net % that predict growth Q2 2019 Net % that predict growth
Finance & accounting49%47%48%33%
Real estate49%43%32%45%
Retail31%39%34%40%
Manufacturing44%39%30%38%
Media & marketing46%38%37%36%
Hospitality & leisure33%37%27%29%
IT & telecoms49%36%41%38%
Construction33%32%26%31%
Legal47%30%44%41%
Transport & distribution34%29%27%25%
Agriculture29%25%32%27%

Net percentage of businesses predicting growth – results over time

 % that predict net growth (significant or modest/organic) 
Q3 201836%
Q4 201836%
Q1 201936%
Q2 201934%
Q3 201935%
Q4 201936%
Q1 202039%

Percentage of businesses predicting growth by region

 Q1 2020%that predict growthQ1 2019%that predict growth
London 47%36%
North West45%44%
North East44%51%
East43%28%
Yorkshire /Humber39%35%
South West38%29%
East Midlands38%42%
West Midlands34%35%
South East34%40%
Wales30%30%
Scotland30%31%

Instagram ‘attracting a larger audience than Facebook’ among brands

Instagram has a larger audience and nearly 20X more interactions than Facebook among top 50 brand profiles, according to Socialbakers’ new Q4 2019 Trends Report.

Key insights from the report include Instagram overtaking Facebook in audience size, the relative decline in engagement during the holiday season, the popularity of vertical videos, the dominance of women among fans and followers, growing ad spend, and the continuing explosion of influencer marketing. 

“The writing has been on the wall for some time, but now it’s official. When it comes to the top 50 biggest brand profiles, Instagram has a larger audience than Facebook,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak CEO, Socialbakers. “That development was not a surprise. What was unexpected in Q4 2019, however, was the relative decline in engagement during the holiday season. This is a warning sign that brands require a deeper understanding of which types of content their audiences find compelling, and an agile method to get that content in front of them.”

The key findings of the Q4 2019 Trends report include:

·         For the first time globally, Instagram surpassed Facebook in audience size – but for the top UK brand profiles, Facebook still has a marginally bigger audience, but greater engagement is found on Instagram

·         Despite efforts to attract consumers during the holiday period, post interactions for both Instagram and Facebook were lower in Q4 2019 than Q4 2018

·         Women make up the majority of fans and followers of brand pages on Instagram and Facebook, representing over half (56.4%) of the audience engaging with brands

·         Whilst 70% of videos on Facebook brand pages are shot horizontally, viewers are more likely to complete a vertical video than horizontal (29.9% vs. 22.2% respectively)

·         Ad spend on Instagram Stories increased by 40% over the last year, and by 91% over the last two years. Meanwhile, in the UK, brands are still posting more to the Instagram News Feed

·         The number of influencers using #Ad exploded by 90.5% in Q4 2019

·         The Services category (including lawyers, accounting services and IT services) found a 66.7% jump in engagement

Based on the top 50 biggest brand profiles worldwide, there was a notable change in Q4 2019. For the first time, the total audience on Instagram surpassed the total audience size on Facebook. Additionally, the total interactions on Instagram were nearly 20 times larger than those on Facebook. So, even though the top 50 brands published more posts on Facebook, the engagement on those posts didn’t reach the numbers that Instagram was able to achieve.

For the top UK brand profiles Facebook still has a marginally bigger audience. However, while brands are posting roughly the same amount of content to Facebook and Instagram, they are seeing significantly more engagement on Instagram. The lesson here is that UK brands need to focus on their Instagram strategy as by splitting their content between both platforms they are likely leaving interactions on the table. 

Engagement: A surprising drop in interactions

In the UK the industries that are seeing the most engagement across Facebook and Instagram are ecommerce, fashion and retail. The data shows that ecommerce brands are really leveraging the potential of Facebook, whilst Fashion brands are running the show on Instagram. 

Despite attempts to attract consumers during the holiday season, the relative post interactions for both Instagram and Facebook were lower in Q4 2019 than a year ago. This was true even among the most successful industries on social media. Fashion, the top industry on Instagram, decreased by 19.4%, while the top industry on Facebook, Ecommerce, decreased by 9.6% versus Q3 2019. This may indicate that brands need to get smarter about the content they post, and focus on top quality content in smaller volumes to increase engagement.

However, one interesting success story in Q4 engagement is the Services category. It achieved a 66.7% jump in engagement on Instagram compared to Q3 2019. On Facebook, Services finished fourth with 7.6% of total interactions after not making the top eight in the previous quarter. Services is a wide-ranging category that includes lawyers, accounting services, hairdressers, car repairs, IT services, conference and event organisers, and weight loss courses.

Format: Vertical videos pull viewers in

Marketers often wonder whether viewers prefer videos that were shot horizontally or those that were shot vertically. Currently, about 70% of videos on Facebook brand pages are shot horizontally. But according to Q4 data from those Facebook brand pages, vertical videos perform better than horizontal videos across the board. For videos shorter than 30 seconds (which is the most popular video length), vertical videos were completed by viewers 29.9% of the time, while horizontal videos were completed 22.2% of the time. 

Demographics: Women are dominant on social media

According to the Q4 2019 data, women make up the majority of fans and followers of brand pages on both Instagram and Facebook. On Instagram, 58% of brand page followers were female, comprising the majority of every age demographic. On Facebook, women made up 56.7% of the total audience of page fans, although there were slightly more men in the 18-24 age demographic. Women are also the largest group of people mentioning and interacting with brand pages in the prime marketing demographic of 25-34. Overall, women represented 56.4% of the audience engaging with brands in Q4 2019.

Ad spend: Instagram rises but Facebook remains the leader

As in past quarters, ad spend on Instagram Stories continues its rapid growth, although Facebook Feed remains the leader with 58.3% of total ad spend. For the first time, Instagram Stories reached 10% of ad spend in the second half of 2019. Overall, the spend on Instagram Stories increased by 40% over the last year, and by 91% over the last two years.

In the UK the data shows that brands are still posting more to the News Feed. Since Stories are proving to be a highly engaging content format globally, perhaps UK brands need to up their game on Stories. 

Other ad spend trends include the rise of Instagram Explore and Facebook Marketplace as a destination for advertising dollars. In its first five months, the percentage of ad spend on Instagram Explore grew to 1.32%. And over the last year, ad spend on Facebook Marketplace grew from 0.72% in December 2018 to 1.31% at the end of 2019, an increase of more than 80%.

Influencer marketing: No sign of slowing down

One trend that remains unchanged is the skyrocketing growth of influencer marketing. In Q4 2019, the number of influencers using #Ad or the local language version in their posts exploded by 90.5%. For the third straight quarter, the top Instagram brand profile in the world associated with influencers was Walmart, which had 854 mentions from 619 influencers in Q4 2019. Other profiles with successful influencer partnerships included Daniel Wellington, iDeal Of Sweden, and FashionNova.com.

The complete Q4 2019 Social Media Trends Report with supporting graphics is now available for free download.

Influencer marketing in the affiliate sector increases 9%

Influencer publishers drove 610,000 sales to advertisers in 2019 up to September; 5.5% more than 2018, while revenue made from influencer sales in that period totalled £29.7m – 9.2% up from 2018 and AOV of influencer marketing was £48.47, representing a 3.4% increase.

The data was compiled by the team at global affiliate network www.awin.com, who looked at Awin’s top 100 influencer publishers in the UK, combining subnetworks, talent agencies and individual influencers, for the first three quarters of 2019 and then compared results to the same period in 2018. 

2019 saw an increase across all metrics for influencer marketing, which confirmed industry-wide forecasts that predicted advertisers were going to be allocating more marketing budget to influencer marketing for the year. 

In terms of sales, influencer publishers drove a total of 610,000 sales to advertisers on the Awin network for the first nine months of 2019, representing a 5.5% increase on the previous year. This amounted to £29.7m in revenue to advertisers, which was a substantial increase of 9.2% on the year before.

The amount of commission paid out to influencer publishers saw a significant uplift of 18.9% from 2018, amounting to £3.78 million. The average order value in influencer marketing for 2019 was also up 3.4% on the previous year, totalling £48.47.

Retail & shopping continues to dominate the influencer sector, accounting for 99.2% of the top 100 advertisers, whilst there has been an increase for those in the telecoms sector, who made up 0.6%.

Fashion is the sector investing in influencer marketing the most, with eight of the top 10 advertisers operating in this industry, with the remaining two in the beauty sphere. The dominance of fashion & beauty retailers is maintained in the top 50, but there has been an increase of advertisers in the health supplements space entering into this list.

Commenting on the findings, Carina Toledo, Influencer Partnerships Manager at www.awin.com, said: “Influencer marketing has increased massively in popularity over the past few years, and has come to form a key part of marketing strategies, particularly in the fashion and beauty sectors. The practice is certainly set to continue increasing, and the rise in its use in the telecoms and health supp

Two-thirds of consumers ‘Don’t understand how their data is used’

Over half (58%) of consumers want long term relationships with brands, but 33% saw irrelevant retail offers as the biggest marketing mistakes, indicating a personalisation disconnect.

That’s according to the latest APEX report from Valitor, which reveals the key marketing challenges brands will face in using customer data to build relationships.

The study also found that almost half (48%) of consumers think that when it comes to relationship ‘building’, all they see after-sale are spam emails.

In fact, it seems personalisation across the board does not meet expectations. 68% do not know how their data is being used by brands. Valitor says this knowledge gap, combined with the implementation of GDPR and the ongoing discussions of data being used in political discussions, has spiked consumer interest in data use and privacy.

However, while interest has increased, the actual use of data by brands is creating uncertainty, confusion and setting unachievable expectations about the sort of interactions customers should expect. 

Halldór Lúðvígsson, Managing Director, Omni-channel solutions at Valitor, said: “The latest APEX report reveals that consumers want a long term relationship with brands, which is clearly an opportunity that needs to be pursued. To succeed in establishing relationships, brands need to show customers that by having their data, they are able to create the long term value they crave. Currently, though many consumers feel brands’ efforts are missing the mark, which is risking weakening customer retention.”

The good news for brands, however, is that consumers are still happy to provide them with personal data, as long as it is used in the right way. In fact, 75% of consumers are comfortable with the concept of a brand holding personal information in order to improve the services and relationship. Consumers also revealed that they are most willing to share email addresses (42%), followed by clothing size (29%). But in order to keep consumers happy, brands need to ensure that they use this data wisely if they are to encourage the sharing of more types of information. 

Meanwhile, the outdated practice of getting data and then taking a “spray and pray approach” has clearly had negative effects on consumers. For example, over a third (34%) of consumers say that they have been made to feel like a brand no longer wants to impress them once they have parted with their money. Another third (33%) aren’t convinced brands still care about them after the sale is done. While a quarter (25%) highlight the fact that occasional offers are not the same as a proper customer service relationship. 

Other key report findings:-

  • The 18-35 age group is far more confident in their understanding of how brands use their data (18-25 were 40%; 26-35 were 43%) compared to the 66+ age group (19%).
  •  44% of consumers take notice of marketing communications from a brand:
    • 56% take notice of emails 
    • 46% notice free samples/trials 
  • 52% of 18-25 years – the highest proportion of all age groups (and the emerging customer base for many brands) – are receptive to messaging from brands. 
  • The oldest consumers, 56-65 and 66+ are the least likely to pay attention to brand marketing.

Download the full report here.