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Monthly Archives

August 2018

netflix

Lessons From Netflix About Content Marketing

By | Netwoking Bizz Brand development | No Comments

Lessons From Netflix About Content Marketing

netflix

Netflix didn’t become the most popular streaming video subscription service by accident. Clearly, it hired smart people to run its analytics, content strategy and customer-experience initiatives to grow its subscription base, all the while reducing churn and cancellations.

This media services provider has also mastered the use of social media to gain attention for its shows (sometimes controversially so) and connect with fans.

But before getting to five social media marketing takeaways from Netflix that entrepreneurs can use to expand their brands’ presence, consider some important numbers about the media giant’s place among what’s sometimes called FANG  (FANG being the acronym for the four high-performing technology stocks: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.)

These are the numbers that have transformed Netflix into a video-streaming juggernaut:

  • As of July,17, Netflix had more than 130 million paying subscribers, according to Statista. It added over 7.5 million new subscribers between Q4 2017 and Q1 in 2018.
  • Amazon Prime, Netflix’s closest streaming competitor, has only 100 million subscribers.
  • In just one quarter, Netflix added half as many new subscribers as another streaming competitor, Hulu, has total subscribers (pretty incredible).
  • Netflix has made a growth push into new markets: It has customers streaming and watching content in over 190 countries.

Along the way, Netflix has pushed the envelope and made some controversial moves. Its original series 13 Reasons Why was boycotted and slammed by reviewers for what they said romanticized suicide and depression. Then, last December, Netflix generated negative publicity with its Big Brother-esque creepy Christmas movie tweet in which it shared detailed information about its customers’ viewing habits, while cruelly poking fun at 53 people who watched a Christmas movie 18 days in a row.

Let’s not forget the company’s price-hike scandal of 2016, after it had promised certain customers lifetime subscriptions. The result: lawsuits and nearly 500,000 cancellations.

Perhaps the company’s biggest controversy was the ban it issued against people who wanted to use location-masking software such as virtual private networks (VPN) to stream content from the app.

The Netflix VPN ban caused quite a few customers to call for a ban, via social media, and say they were deleting their accounts. People use VPNs to access content that isn’t available or hasn’t launched in their region from Netflix. And while Netflix has tried quite hard to enforce the ban, according to data from the site The Best VPN, around 70 percent of VPNs have found ways to bypass the Netflix ban. The company is still fighting this.

At the same time, the company’s growth and success despite these backlash events and scandals has been impressive:

  • Since 2015, over 30 million subscibers have been logging-in and streaming the service using VPNs or other location-masking software, according to The Guardian.
  • Since enacting the price hike and VPN ban, regardless of the associated uproar, Netflix has added over 40 million new paying monthlty subscribers.

So, you may be wondering, what does Netflix do differently to achieve these kinds of results? What is the special sauce or secret to this growth?  Aside from the fairly obvious factors, such as its having built a useful and popular (some say addictive) product, and constantly reinvested its profits into creating new content and licensing deals, the company has mastered marketing to what I consider a genius level.

And its investment in social media is a big part of those marketing strategies. Accordingly, while you may not be in media, here five things your company can learn from Netflix about marketing across social media channels:

1. Even great social media will not save a crappy product.

Besides maybe Google or Facebook, Netflix has made it through more scandals than most companies. The events I’ve described have brought a barrage of litigation, loss of subscribers and discontent among portion of its customer base. Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, known for taking risks, hasn’t been fazed by the backlash.

In a 2016 earnings call he called the protestors of the VPN  “a very small but quite vocal minority” and called the scenario “really inconsequential to us, as you can see from our Q1 results.”

Of course, marketing approach is one thing; then there’s the actual product. Recently, Digital Trends conducted an in-depth comparison of the streaming service providers and Netflix came out on top, winning in five out of seven categories (price, content library, supported devices, ease of use and video quality).

This confirmed Netflix’s position ahead of its competitors in terms of subscribers looking for binge-worthy content. Even though recent data has suggested that 80 percent of Netflix viewership comes from licensed movies and TV content, original breakout hits like Stranger Things have caught the big news headlines and accounted for the remaining 20 percent.

2. Don’t fear showing a real and authentic voice.

Netflix is a brand that shows you can make connections with an audience using an authentic voice. While some legacy brands have strict policies about interacting with followers on social channels, Netflix takes a different approach and likes to have fun by taking a more casual and playful voice.

Here are sample tweets that show this inclination in action:

#Daredevil  Season 2. All night, every night. See you in a few hours. pic.twitter.com/O1fdynSrLa

— Netflix US (@netflix) March 18, 2016

“One more episode” – You, lying straight to your own face.

— Netflix ANZ (@NetflixANZ) Aug. 5, 2017

brb changing my name to Netflib

— Netflix US (@netflix) June 11, 2018

Hey @ayenalambat! Is the birthday boy around? Chief Hopper has something to say. https://t.co/kzqP3P5fkz

— Netflix Philippines (@Netflix_PH) March 27, 2018

Apparently, the @Netflix account is positioning itself as one of its subscribers’ friends in its posting and retweets — as opposed to being like a brand trying to sell you something.

To its fanatical audience, Netflix doesn’t feel like just another huge, untouchable corporation afraid of lawsuits. If you roast Netflix, it will roast you back.

3. Social listening should be an important part of your strategy.

Ever hear of Netflix socks back in 2015? This was a project Netflix created when its data showed that many of its users were falling asleep while binge-watching a show — I’ve done it myself.

Netflix then worked with an agency called Deeplocal to cement its position as an industry innovator, and communicate to viewers that they controlled the company’s programming: It developed smart socks that used an accelerometer to detect when users fell asleep.

The technology sent a signal to the user’s TV and paused the show so that the watcher did not wake up several episodes ahead. The project was a hit and won a Shorty Award in 2016 for its creative use of technology.

The gimmick was also written about by major news sites and went viral on social — generating an average 1,175 tweets per day from over 20,000 accounts — resulting in totally 300 million social impressions.

In this way, Netflix further reinforced how innovative and cool an entertainment company it was, and is. It also showed its role in active social listening, having heard complaints from annoyed customers falling asleep during its shows and posting about it.

4. Every company cares about the numbers, but successful companies look beyond them.

Of course, marketing and social media can seem like a numbers game, and all successful brands try to interact with their audience and post regularly.

But in 2018, it takes more than just showing up on these platforms to succeed. Another key takeaway from Netflix’s approach here is its focus on quality over quantity. That means its clever and witty style on posts, how it responds and engages its audience and the quality of its tweets.

It’s pretty obvious that Netflix is not simply tweeting to meet a target.  A lot of creativity goes into these tweets, which are crafted with thorough understanding of the company’s audience. See for yourself.

5. Find a way to encourage sharing of your content.

Another Netflix strategy for social media success is how the company makes it so natural to share its content across social media.

Aside from creating interesting content that lends itself to social sharing, Netflix makes that content easily shareable and encourages people to share it with friends.

Entrepreneur contributor Dennis Williams wrote on Entrepreneur how the company “is known to provide content that pairs well with social media, helping insert itself into everyday conversations.”

The article highlighted how Netflix had even created a landing page of funny gifs, with the title “Give your friends that extra push” to encourage sharing. Its Twitter accounts are also funny and relatable, which makes people enjoy following them.

Conclusion

Netflix takes a different approach on Instagram and Facebook, since these platforms are more visual. And, a lot of the content created for those accounts shows either interviews, actor selfies taken during filming or behind-the-scenes photos of original shows — all intended to be teaser ads and promotions.

The bottom line is that Netflix does a lot of things well, and it did not become the streaming industry leader by chance. It has a rock-solid marketing strategy that prioritizes relating to its fans and target demographic.

Startups and established businesses can learn from these takeaways and siimilarly engage their own audiences on social media. The key here is that millennials, and in fact all demographics, like brands that are fun and approachable.

gated content

What Darth Vader Can Teach Us About Gated Content

By | Netwoking Bizz Brand development | No Comments

What Darth Vader Can Teach Us About Gated Content

gated content

Gating content – or putting a piece of marketing behind a paywall – is a contentious issue. On the one hand, marketers are often asked to demonstrate the ROI (return on investment) of content beyond stats such as social engagement, article views, or reach. Implementing a gate can add an extra layer of value.

For example, one of Unbounce’s gated content campaigns managed to achieve a conversion rate of 45% – leading to more than 23,000 leads.

On the other hand, an incorrectly implemented content gate can cause huge issues – alienating customers and sending them searching for somewhere else with ‘free’ content.

Although the subject of content gates can be very divisive in our industry they are, at heart, a strategy. Similar to any other strategy, they can succeed with the right planning and foresight. When it goes really wrong though, we can learn vital lessons about how to improve our own content gates. Just look at what happened when EA (Electronic Arts) tried to restrict access to Darth Vader.

A long time ago…in a strategy meeting far away

Although many would equate content gates to written pieces, anything which puts something behind a paywall can be considered as one. When EA announced the video game Star Wars Battlefront 2, they made the controversial decision of restricting access to ‘hero characters’, such as Darth Vader.

To play as the iconic villain, Star Wars fans would have to play the game online for 40 hours. Alternatively, they could pay extra money to speed up the process. However, this only unlocked one hero, they would have to repeat the process to gain access to the other fan favourites.

The reaction from fans was overwhelmingly negative – especially on Reddit. A representative of EA even commented on the forum stating the high unlock times were to provide a “sense of pride and accomplishment”.

That comment is the most downvoted in Reddit history.

Behold the power of this fully armed and operational PR crisis

Often internet-based anger doesn’t have many repercussions. However, this began to affect EA when fans started cancelling their pre-orders in the thousands. Eventually, the company announced they were reducing the unlock times of hero characters by 75%. Although an attempt to placate the fans, the damage was very much done.

Less than two weeks after the game’s release, EA’s stock value had declined by $3bn. Furthermore, compared with the first game released two years previous, physical game sales of Star Wars Battlefront 2 were down by 61%.

Even worse for EA, Walt Disney – which owns the Star Wars brand – weighed in on the controversy. Company executives were keen to express their “unhappiness” at how the incident “reflected on their marquee property.”

Months after the release of Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA relented. The company removed the content gate and purchasers would now only be able to pay real money for cosmetic items. Furthermore, the incident has sparked a worldwide debate about the ‘loot box’ system (where gamers pay money for additional in-game items) and some countries have even decreed the practice as illegal.

What can we learn from EA’s content gate?

This is an example in how content gates can go very wrong. However, it could have been avoided if company executives followed the main rule when deciding whether to implement one:

Understand your audience

It is vital to understand your audience before implementing a gate. As well as deciding if these people will accept it and how useful it will be to them, you must put yourself in their shoes and determine if you would adhere to the content gate yourself.

For example, I doubt EA’s executives would have been willing to play an online game for 40 hours – per character – or pay extra to get them unlocked.

As for the audience itself, this decision doesn’t work for the game’s two main customer groups:

  • Star Wars fans have grown up with the franchise. Although its legacy has led to a new generation, the average fan is a 34-year-old male. They have commitments, jobs, families. They definitely won’t want to spend 40 hours on an online game to gain access to a character.
  • In a similar fashion, generations have grown up with video games and – although a popular hobby, the average age of a gamer is 35. Again, they have commitments.

This generated such a backlash because the restrictions of the content gate weren’t compatible with the audience. Otherwise, there are two main considerations to keep in mind:

Is my content good enough for a gate?

Content gates only work if they are barring access to something truly sensational. If there is something better out there, which is free, your customers will go to that alternative.

It’s time to be honest with the finished product and decide if it deserves a gate. Just remember there is no shame if it doesn’t. It can still perform admirably as free content. Alternatively, it can be improved.

What is the purpose of my content gate?

Although EA implemented a content gate for the purposes of income generation, there are several purposes to content gates. For example, it can capture emails, focus on lead generation, or advertise other articles of interest.

Not all content gates have to be about generating income. Whichever option you decide just has to be the right fit for your audience.

As well as these, consider how a content gate fits into your wider strategy, think about what to do with sign-ups, and decide if a content gate is going to completely or partially prevent access. Just, whatever you decide to do, always consider your audience.

Otherwise, your content gate could go terribly wrong, potentially affecting your partnerships, bottom line, and customer trust.

landing page

15 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Publishing a New Landing Page

By | Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

15 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Publishing a New Landing Page

Landing pages are an important part of most online marketing campaigns. They are a great way to tailor the page that people see after clicking on your ad to your target audience and actual ad content.

Unfortunately, while there are a lot of great articles out there about how to test, tweak and refine your landing pages, not every tip or trick works for every page. To make things even more complicated, it can be hard to know where to start with a new landing page:

  • Do you just guess?
  • Do you put together a page and hope for the best?
  • Do you give it your best shot and then tweak once you have some data?
  • Do you create multiple pages and start testing from day one?

While all of these are certainly viable options, an inadequate landing page can cost you a lot of potential conversions and sales while you figure things out, so it’s worth it to do your best to create a decent landing page the first time around.

To help with that, I’ve put together a list of 15 questions every marketer should ask themselves before pushing a landing page live. If you can answer “yes” to every question on this list, your landing page might not be perfect, but it should provide good results.

landing page

1. Does my above-the-fold experience feel consistent with my advertising?

Your ads set expectations for your landing page. If you’re advertising personal injury services, but your landing page talks about divorce litigation, you immediately create a sense of confusion and unmet expectations for your site traffic. That’s not a great way to get people to convert on your landing page.

Instead, your landing page should match the advertising that brings people to your page. Keep in mind what your ad looks like and promises, along with who you are targeting and what platform your ads are running on. The more seamless your ad-to-landing page transition is, the more likely people are to stick around and potentially convert.

2. Do I have a headline that clearly defines my business and/or offer?

One of the easiest ways to establish a sense of ad-to-landing page consistency is with your headline. Your headline is the first place people look for confirmation that your page matches their expectations. This is the ideal place to confirm what your business does and what your offer is.

Remember, your main goal here is to maintain momentum and build confidence, so keep your headlines clear, concise and focused on the messaging that convinced someone to click on your ad in the first place.

3. Am I communicating value with my headline and subheading?

A good headline and subheading should make a strong value proposition to your potential customers. After all, if you want people to stay and convert, you need to give them a reason to stick around and consider your offer.

The best way to do this is to focus your headline and subheading on how your business or offer will improve the lives of your potential customers. So, instead of saying something generic like “industry-leading software,” it’s better to say something more along the lines of “Close twice as many deals with our sales software.”

4. Is my CTA immediately obvious?

The whole point of a landing page is to help transition potential customers from interest to action. For this reason, landing pages tend to work better if you make the next step immediately obvious. In some cases, you might want an above-the-fold call to action (CTA) encouraging people to convert directly. In others, you may want an above-the-fold CTA that leads people to read more content farther down on your page.

Additionally, it’s almost always a good idea to make your CTA stand out (contrasting colors, smart placement and so on). The easier you make it to find and follow the next step in your conversion path, the more likely people are to do what you want them to do.

5. Is my CTA clear?

Most good CTAs require an investment of some sort. And, like all investments, your CTA comes with a measure of risk. So, if you want to get people to give you their contact information, money or something else, you need to be clear about what they’re going to get in return.

Whether it’s in your button copy or at the top of a submission form, it’s usually best to explain exactly what people get in exchange for what they’re giving you. That way, they understand the exchange and feel more motivated to do what you want them to.

6. Do I have any unnecessary links?

Unlike your home page, you know exactly why people are on your landing page and how they got there. As a result, you can give them the content they need, and you really shouldn’t have any reason to send them to another page. Unnecessary links to a site or social media profile pages simply distract people from what you want them to do on your landing page: Convert!

7. Are there distracting elements on my page?

While there might be a lot that you want to communicate about your company or offer, too much information or too many images can distract or discourage your potential customers. Remember, the goal of a landing page is to help people take the next step toward becoming a paying customer. If elements on your page aren’t an important part of helping people take that next step, you probably don’t need them.

8. Does my copy focus on things that matter to my customers?

Along the same lines, many businesses fall into the trap of creating landing pages that focus on how great their business or offer is. The problem is, your potential customers don’t care how awesome you think you are. They care about what you can do for them.

Instead of focusing on why your company is great, it’s best to focus on how your product or service will help your potential customers. How will it change their lives for the better? What value will they get from buying from you? If you can give them convincing answers to those questions, they’ll be a lot more likely to convert.

9. Are my testimonials compelling and relevant?

The right testimonials are incredibly compelling. The wrong testimonials undermine the credibility of your business. This is just as true on a landing page as it is on a third-party website.

On your landing pages, you have the advantage of picking which testimonials to use, but your potential customers know this, so your testimonials need to be particularly compelling. A great testimonial should be specific to you and your business (or offer, ideally) and should come from a reliable, verifiable source.

10. Are all my form fields necessary?

As I mentioned earlier, your CTA represents a degree of risk for your potential customers. The less you ask for, the lower that perceived risk will be. So, if you don’t need a piece of information at this particular stage of your funnel, don’t ask for it!

11. Does my page have a page title?

A page title might seem like a fairly simple thing, but our brains are designed to associate inconsistency with danger. Most reputable websites and landing pages come with a page title, so if people don’t see a page title on the tab for your landing page, they may immediately become more suspicious about the legitimacy of your business.

12. Has my page been proofread?

Ideally, reading through your landing page should be an effortless experience for your potential customers. When someone has to think to figure out what you’re trying to say or make sense of a misspelled word or poor grammar, they enter a state of alert. Something is wrong with your page, which automatically makes them question everything you are saying on your page.

As a result, they’re a lot more likely to question whether or not they need what you’re selling, which is bad news for you.

So, apart from simply creating a professional-sounding landing page, proofreading (especially if you get someone else to proofread for you) can also improve the overall performance of your landing page. The less people have to think while reading through your content, the more likely they are to be swayed by your pitch and convert.

13. Have all of my forms and buttons been tested?

Of course, the most compelling page isn’t worth much if people can’t actually convert. Any time you make a change to a button, form, integration or another interactive element, you should retest your whole process. Make sure that lead info ends up in the right place, buttons work and links direct people to the right place before you launch your page.

14. Have I mobile-optimized this page?

These days, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that a lot of people will view your landing page on their mobile devices. It’s a bit of a pain to have to design a desktop-friendly and mobile-friendly version of your page, but that’s just the world we live in.

15. Will this page make my customer feel like ‘This is for me’?

As people progress through your marketing and sales funnel, they are constantly asking themselves, “Is this for me?” In other words, your potential customers are looking for a business and/or offer that fits them and their needs.

We’ve touched on this point throughout this article, but it’s so important that it’s worth specifically mentioning here. If you can convince people what you’re selling is a match for who they are and what they need, it will be hard for them not to convert.

This can be tricky to do on your home page, where you don’t really know who is visiting or what their motivations are. But a landing page is different. With a landing page, you control who sees your page. Only people who match your targeting and are interested enough in your advertising message to click will see your landing page, so you can create an experience that is personalized to them.

Conclusion

After 10+ years of building and testing landing pages, I’ve found that these 15 questions are a great way to evaluate the quality of a new landing page. If you can answer “yes” to all of the questions on this list, your page might not be perfect, but it’ll be a great asset to your online marketing campaigns from day one. Over time, you can test and refine things, but the fundamentals will all be there.

ihob

IHOP to IHOB: Will the New Marketing Strategy Work?

By | Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

IHOP to IHOB: Will the New Marketing Strategy Work?

Three weeks after the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) launched a teaser campaign to call itself IHOB to draw diners to its burgers, marketing pundits are still debating the wisdom of the rebranding move. However, investors of Glendale, Calif.-based Dine Brands Global, Inc. — IHOP’s parent organization — should be happy to see their stock gaining 30% in that period to $80.

For nearly 60 years, IHOP has positioned itself as a breakfast destination for its pancakes. But it clearly saw hidden value in another, ignored item on its menu – its burgers – and with a single tweet, opened the doors to the lunch and dinner markets. IHOP’s tweet spawned a viral discussion on social media, drawing both praise for what many saw as a bold move, and criticism for what others saw as a flop.

According to experts at Wharton and the University of Maryland, IHOP could see big gains if it can invest in product improvement (read: better burgers) and ensure quality control at its 1,650 locations. It also has to find ways to overcome the declining popularity of sit-down casual food restaurants and compete more effectively with fast-casual and quick-service restaurant chains like Chipotle, Shake Shack and Five Guys Burgers, they said.

The Long View

Judging IHOP’s rebranding strategy calls for “a long term view,” according to Wharton marketing professor Americus Reed. “Remember the [consumer] purchase funnel — awareness, consideration, evaluation, liking, intent to buy, actual purchase, and post-purchase loyalty,” he said. He cautioned against rushing to write off the campaign as a flop. “There are many second- and third- and fourth-order effects — word of mouth — that may create lagged sales.”

In order to work out well, repositioning of brands takes “time, effort, and message discipline,” said Reed. “Target did not become ‘Tar-jay’ overnight. Hyundai did not become a higher cached brand overnight.”

More immediately, the social media momentum IHOP has gained is of course a boon that money cannot often buy. “Just the sheer volume of talk about IHOP and IHOB is a fantastic win for that company,” said Wharton marketing lecturer Jason Riis. IHOP should find profit in the talk about it, even if what’s said is not always complimentary.

In the days before the “B” in IHOB was revealed to represent “burgers,” “it created all kinds of speculation, and the new social media environment thrives on that kind of thing,” Riis said. “They got people guessing, and lots of people making fun, but their campaign has been goofy and playful and lighthearted from the beginning. On the manipulation or playing with social media, they did that brilliantly. I don’t think there’s any way they could have predicted this level of success.”

Building on the Buzz

One worry for IHOP would be that the buzz in social media ends up becoming short-lived, according to Henry C. Boyd, clinical professor of marketing at the University of Maryland. “The buzz … is great for now. But what’s going to happen when all of the dust settles and we look up and say, ‘Well, what was that all about, and did it really move the needle as far as sales are concerned for the burgers?’”

Riis and Boyd discussed the IHOP campaign on the [email protected] show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

“People are talking about it, and social media accounts of competitors are weighing in, so there is a lot of earned media for IHOP,” Reed said. “The question is: Will all this hype trigger people wanting to try the IHOP burger offering that would not otherwise do so?” IHOP’s strategy may also include an attempt to get more people to come in during non-breakfast hours, promoting the idea that they could have pancakes for lunch or dinner or late night supper, he added.

Another worry for IHOP is that it is getting into the more challenging part of the burger market. “A lot of the headwind they’re facing is that broad category of fast-casual where you can go in and just pick up a burger or a meal without table service that’s reasonably high quality,” said Riis. That category is growing, he added, and cited Chipotle and Shake Shack among the chains in that space. “Casual dining is where you sit down and order, and that category is declining – that’s where IHOP sits.”

That said, it does make sense for IHOP to make a bid to enter that market and compete with the entrenched brands there, Riis said. “They don’t have to win. They just need a basic level of parity [with the other brands] that gives people another reason to go in there.”

Changing long-held perceptions among patrons is also an “uphill battle” for IHOP, said Boyd. “When you say IHOP, most people think pancakes,” he explained. “When it’s time for breakfast, I go IHOP. When it’s time for burgers, I go to In-N-Out Burger, or Shake Shack or Zinburger or some other establishment along those lines.”

Living Up to Expectations

Any meaningful impact on IHOP’s sales “is not going to happen unless there has been some kind of substantial change in the product,” said Riis. “All good rebranding programs, brand refreshes and rebrands start with a fundamental and also symbolic change in the product.”

Boyd said IHOP has to serve up burgers that compare well with competition, or else it could lose customer patronage. “That is the real concern,” he added. “It becomes a bit of a risky campaign where you’re saying, ‘We’re willing to change our name from pancakes to burgers and yet we didn’t live up to expectations.’” In order to avoid that situation, “the big stumbling block is quality control,” he added. It may be relatively easier to produce “a gourmet hamburger” at a few locations, but replicating that across a chain of 1,650 stores would be tough, he said.

“Maybe now that they’ve got enough momentum, they can start to put their marketing dollars into product development and find ways to get a better, more consistent burger than they’ve had in the past, and find ways to compete better on a product basis with some of these successful chains,” said Riis.

Reed noted that the company is trying to position its burgers as better than those of Wendy’s, McDonalds and Burger King, “but not quite a gourmet offering as Shake Shack or Five Guys or Bobby’s Burger Palace.”

Understanding IHOP’s Strategy

IHOP needed to do something to address declines in casual dining restaurants, pancake consumption and in revenues at its own chains, Riis said. Dine Brands Global, which also owns the Applebee’s chain, posted losses of $330 million for 2017 on sales of $605 million that were a big drop from $681 million in 2015. The company expects IHOP revenues to stay flat or grow 3% at most in 2018, but it has to contend with longer-term trends that aren’t exactly helpful. Riis noted that “pancakes are all about carbs, and the low-carb diets are up.” And for a chain that counts on families with kids, it isn’t promising when “people aren’t having kids as much as they were in previous [years].”

IHOP’s “Ultimate Steak Burger” is priced at $6.95, with unlimited fries. Rees found that pricing policy smart. In their “mental accounting, people may attribute the cost to endless fries.” He said it might be a smart idea to offer unlimited fries because margins on those may be small in any case, like with unlimited refills in sodas, and “there are only so many servings of fries a single person can eat, anyway.” The $6.95 price also sets higher expectations of quality on par with a Five Guys, so that it is not seen to be in the same space as quick-service restaurants like Wendy’s, Burger King and McDonald’s, he added. “Of course, now IHOP has to deliver on that value proposition in terms of how consumers perceive the actual quality of their burgers.”

Riis noted that a handful of others have attempted rebranding, such as Pizza Hut calling itself Pasta Hut a decade ago. With IHOP, “it really was a fundamental play on the name, and the part that they got right was creating a little bit of suspense and a teaser,” he said.

According to Riis, rebranding generally brings positive results. “Brands have to do some amount of refreshing on a regular basis to slightly change the meaning or tinker with what it is that consumers are coming in for and having new offerings,” he said. He recalled a case study about Red Lobster he wrote along with Harvard professor David E. Bell about a decade ago when the brand underwent a relaunch.

Riis recalled that at the time he did that study, Red Lobster was battling declining sales and negative customer satisfaction levels. The company changed its logo, changed the interiors at its restaurants, “but most fundamentally they improved the product,” he said. It brought in a new grilling system at all of its 800 locations, retrained its chefs and prepped its servers to pitch the menu to diners in a new way. “Those are big and expensive changes to make. But you have to get those in place before you start talking about it,” he added.

The experts agreed that IHOP’s core business of pancakes would stay unaffected if it fails to capitalize on the current social media buzz. At best, the chain’s patrons might shrug off the burger experiment as unwise, they felt. “They will be lauded for trying something different” and loyal IHOP customers will continue visiting its restaurants, Reed said.

“It’s not like the pancake narrative has been lost,” Riis said. “Lots of the social media discussions [about IHOP] still revolve around how great or how lousy the pancakes are, but a lot of people are having nostalgic feelings for the chain. And that’s all money in the bank, at least short term.”

whatsapp

WhatsApp Launching Pay-to-Use Tools for Brand Marketers

By | Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

WhatsApp Launching Pay-to-Use Tools for Brand Marketers

Facebook looks to monetize WhatsApp with new Business API & ads that open chats in the messaging app

The new Facebook ads that click to WhatsApp open a pre-filled chat so that users can easily message the business via the app.

whatsapp

Facebook has launched a new WhatsApp Business API designed to help businesses communicate with consumers via the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging app. Along with the new WhatsApp Business API, Facebook advertisers will soon have access to ads on Facebook that click to WhatsApp, automatically opening a pre-filled WhatsApp chat between the user and business.

WhatsApp Business API

The WhatsApp Business API will allow businesses to send end-to-end encrypted messages to people who start a chat with the company via the app and to message people who have requested information. Businesses will be able to customize notifications that can be sent with “relevant, non-promotional” content (e.g., shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets).

“When someone messages your business, you can also use the WhatsApp Business API to respond to questions or comments for free within 24 hours,” writes Facebook on its Business blog.

If a business waits more than 24 hours to send a response, they will be charged for the message. The non-promotional content messages sent to customers will also be charged at a fixed rate.

A WhatsApp spokesperson sent the following explanation to help clarify the charges for messages sent via the Business API:

WhatsApp will charge businesses to send messages such as a boarding pass or delivery confirmation. When a customer reaches out to a business with a question such as how do they book their travel or when their order will be delivered, the business will be able to respond for free within 24 hours. If/when the customer responds, that restarts a 24-hour cycle. WhatsApp will charge for messages sent by the business outside of the 24-hour window.

According to the spokesperson, there is a fixed rate per country for messages delivered via WhatsApp and that prices vary significantly per country: “In general, the range for these messages [is] roughly half of $0.01 to $0.09 per message delivered.”

An announcement on the WhatsApp blog covering the new API says that users will be able to block any business and have full control over the messages they receive. It also reported WhatsApp is currently working with a select number of companies that specialize in managing customer communications to bring the API to more businesses over a period of time. Facebook’s announcement reported more than 90 large businesses have had access to the WhatsApp Business API for months now, including Uber, Singapore Airlines and the Indonesian e-commerce company, Sales Stock.

“Tapping into WhatsApp has had a big impact on our business and customers, with lots of potential yet to be explored. The delivery rate, engagement and ease of integrations can’t be compared to other channels,” says Sales Stock’s head of product, Wahyu Saputra. The company claimed that WhatsApp has become its largest source of inbound traffic, with 90 percent of the messages delivered via the app read by customers.

Facebook Ads that click to WhatsApp

Along with the new WhatsApp Business API, Facebook will soon be offering ads via its Ads Manager that open a WhatsApp chat.

“When a person taps on an Ad that clicks to WhatsApp, they will be transferred to a pre-filled WhatsApp chat where they can message your business quickly,” writes Facebook. Businesses will also be able to include a “click-to-message” WhatsApp feature on their website and Facebook Page.

Advertisers using the Facebook ads that click to WhatsApp will get metrics for the number of conversations started using the ad and the total number of messages people sent the business via the ad. (The reports will be included in the advertiser’s Ads Manager on Facebook.) Facebook says these ads will be rolling out over the coming weeks to most countries around the world, reports Facebook.

Earlier this year, WhatsApp launched its first business app, a no-frills tool designed primarily for small and medium-sized businesses that wanted to take advantage of the messaging app to communicate with customers.

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