The Role of AI in Your Lead Gen Strategy

Digitization has transformed lead generation. No longer limited to traditional approaches of in-person events and painful cold calling, businesses are now using omnichannel outreach via e-mails, websites, apps, and social media to reach highly targeted customers who are ready to buy. 

With the addition of more communication channels, sales cycles are now longer and more complex, adding to the marketing and sales workload. In addition, despite best efforts, HubSpot reports nearly 79 percent of leads never convert. So, it’s no wonder more than 40 percent of salespeople and 60 percent of marketers report they see lead generation as a major pain point. Enter AI. AI is the perfect tool to improve lead generation and lead nurturing. 

Businesses are increasingly leveraging AI-powered tools for lead generation in their sales and marketing operations. These tools automate the once mundane and/or time consuming tasks of finding and qualifying leads, creating customer profiles, personalizing content, and nurturing leads. For example, through the use of AI platforms and other algorithms that collect and analyze data like sales and the performance of different marketing strategies, CRMs can function at a much higher level with business insights that improve sales and ROI with enhanced intel that aids customer management. According to reporting at Cience:

  • Enterprises that used AI-enabled lead-generation tools saw a 15% to 20% increase in sales productivity and 20% in order management throughput.
  • More than 40% of sales leaders using AI tools have seen major improvements in their lead prioritization, use of their salespersons’ time, and understanding of customer needs. 
  • About 84% of business executives believe AI can give them a competitive edge. 

Here are some of the ways using AI as part of a comprehensive lead generation strategy can help a business grow.

1. Make Better Predictions

Using AI learning helps marketers make informed predictions by providing insight on the data collected and determining patterns in behavior. 

2. Develop Lookalike Audiences

AI and machine learning enable marketers to identify and target audiences that are the best fit.

3. Gather And Analyze Sales Data

AI can extract intelligence from huge market research data sets, but that’s not all it can do. Using the data in your CRM and other data warehouses, AI examines profiles of customers, transactional data, and behavior data to provide invaluable insights.

4. Make Real-Time Decisions

AI can take real-time data from your CRM and other data warehouses like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to help with lead scoring to determine your ideal customer, where they are in their journey, and the targeted message you should put in front of them. 

5. Create Targeted Lists

AI can be used to help create targeted lists such as a contact database grouped by industry, companies, and other factors with real-time updates. AI can then be used to manage updates, ensuring the data is always current. It also works well for creating e-mail lists and then tracking clicks, open rates, and other engagement.

6. Create Content

Content creation can be greatly assisted by AI, using it to generate subject lines, messaging, and design. However, there are still some hiccups with this. For more on this topic, read this article.  

Now is an exciting time to take advantage of AI technology to improve your lead generation. There is no denying its ability to help marketers gain greater insights that can be used to target and nurture leads through their journey all the way to the end of the funnel and increase sales.  

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Your Guide to the New ChatGPT

In November 2022 the artificial intelligence startup OpenAI launched ChatGPT, a viral online large language machine that has the tech world and marketers giddy with excitement…and full of questions. ChatGPT was free to use, but now there is a fee, a necessity to triage capacity issues brought on by the free access that drove huge user numbers. 

It seems everyone has an opinion about ChatGPT. Engineers and  entrepreneurs tout it as a welcomed new frontier. It’s predicted to fuel new products, services and solutions, but not everyone is on the bandwagon. Social scientists and journalists are worried because they see the potential this technology may have to wreak havoc. Don’t worry. According to experts a full AI takeover isn’t imminent. ChatGPT doesn’t speak with sentience and doesn’t “think” like a human. There is an intrinsic difference between how humans produce language versus large language models. 

What puts this chatbot in the spotlight is how close it gets to replicating human-like language abilities thanks to generative AI, which uses statistics, reinforcement learning, and supervised learning to index words, phrases, and sentences. It’s a revolutionary technology that has been trained to learn what humans mean when they ask a question. It can also produce essays, solve coding problems, provide customer service, translate, and more. This is possible because it’s powered by large amounts of data and billions of words scraped from the web and other sources along with computing techniques to mimic writing styles, avoid certain types of conversations, and learn from questions. ChatGPT can access a vast vocabulary and database of information and understand words in context, helping it mimic human speech patterns to dispatch its encyclopedic knowledge. 

OpenAI is not alone in its use of large language model tools. Other well-known tech companies like Google and Meta use the large language model tools to develop programs that respond to human prompts and devise sophisticated responses. 

The technology is spreading to virtually every field – health care, marketing, law, you name it. But, it’s not a magic bullet. Open AI has acknowledged as much, sharing on its website that “ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”  As with any technology, there are deficiencies and limitations. Here are a few in the spotlight now:

Plagiarism and Cheating

Plagiarism and student cheating are a valid concern. Thankfully, there is software that can be used to detect OpenAI text. However, due to the learning nature of the AI chatbot, it will keep learning and getting smarter, which may make it harder to identify plagiarism using the prescribed software.

Racism, Sexism, and Bias

ChatGPT fell under scrutiny when racial and gender biases were associated with the chatbot. Implicit bias built into technology is not a new discovery. UC Berkeley psychology and neuroscience professor Steven Piantadosi stated on Twitter in early December 2022 his concerns, “No, OpenAI has not come close to addressing the problem of bias. Filters appear to be bypassed with simple tricks, and superficially masked. And what is lurking inside is egregious.” He used queries based on race and gender, and ChatGPT produced results that favored white males over women and people of color.

Inaccurate Information

Despite the ongoing hype over ChatGPT, it also has ongoing issues with accuracy that have been well-documented since its inception. OpenAI has conceded that its chatbot possesses “limited knowledge of world events after 2021.” If there is insufficient data on a particular subject, the chatbot gives replies that contain incorrect data. This has started a much-needed discourse on the use of AI as a reliable source to create content – especially among news sources.

Clearly, some refined, deep content is necessary to address this problem. While it’s one thing for the chatbot to work “just ok” to relieve writer’s block, let’s say, this level of performance isn’t acceptable when using the chatbot to source valid, deep, and expansive domain data. If the information programmed is inherently flawed and the algorithms aren’t constantly regulating for reliability, then this new technology is just a big disinformation machine. Other issues with inaccuracies include:

Phrasing Sensitivity – ChatGPT is sensitive to tweaks to input phrasing or multiple attempts with the same prompt. It can claim to not know an answer, but when rephrased can answer the questions correctly.

Excessively Verbose – The model can be unnecessarily wordy, overusing certain phrases and being repetitive due to biases in the training data that favor long answers that are believed to be more comprehensive.

Inaccurate Guessing – Ambiguous queries should be questioned;  however, the current models usually guess at the user’s intention.

In the tech world, more data is always better. That philosophy is at play here as well, with OpenAI suggesting the system will “learn” from invalid data as long as the data set gets bigger. Fixing issues with inaccuracies is a challenging assignment that will garner more attention as the technology matures.

Not Original Content

A limitation is if more than one user asks the chatbot to write on the same topic, everyone making that request will get the same response. Therefore, the content created isn’t unique or original – all users will end up with the same copy. Thus, personalization is an area that still requires a lot of development.

No Mobile App

Currently, ChatGPT is strictly a browser-based platform with no mobile app feature available as of yet; however, I’m certain one is coming, but there has been no confirmation of this by the brand. This lack of cross platform availability has given rise to copycat apps charging exorbitant prices. Beware of ChatGPT fakes not associated with or supported by OpenAI. A popular workaround for this is to load the chatbot on your smartphone browser. 

Looking to the Future

As with most new technologies, pioneers usually take most of the heat for early misses. However, the market will grow and advance, fueled by eager VC firm funding. Financial investors predict ChatGPT will spawn new companies and products moving forward. Some also foresee a new form of Internet search coming from this technology.

Competition is certainly on the way, as all of the players will enter the ring, perhaps introducing industry-specific and domain-specific offerings, new products, and other creative solutions. Just yesterday OpenAI announced version three of ChatGPT is out, unveiling “an entirely new user interface” complete with:

  • Five new creative sizes for those who do display or programmatic ads
  • A new version of AI that can generate more and better creatives even faster 
  • An OpenAI-supported startup with  several copywriting methodologies

The opportunities this technology presents is staggering. Rather than replacing vast amounts of workers, the technology will be used to enhance and upgrade the systems we use to do our work so we can do that work more effectively and efficiently.

Video Drives Sales – Here’s What You Need To Know

Study after study has shown that video is the easiest and most effective way to engage customers and drive them to take action. Video works exceedingly well to create brand awareness, activation, onboarding, and retention. Effectively using video as a component of your marketing strategy helps you gain a competitive edge in an  increasingly crowded market.

According to a Wyzowl State of Video Marketing Report and Hubspot surveying:

  • Online video watching has almost doubled since 2018.
  • Nearly 93% of brands reported new customer acquisition came from videos posted on their social media.
  • 87% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI.
  • 85% of consumers report wanting to see more videos from brands. 
  • Video usage in ad campaigns increases conversion rates by 34% according to Vidyard.  
  • Unbounce reports including a video on your landing page can boost your conversion rate by up to 80%. 

Clearly, video is no longer a nicety; it’s a necessity to ensure your brand is responsive to consumers’ growing desire for efficient and informative self-service options along their buying journey. More consumers than ever before are digesting content before reaching out to sales. Video enables marketers to target different personas to deliver the most relevant and compelling information at various stages in the sales funnel. Video has been shown to be superior at explaining information and building momentum, so it’s a great choice to keep moving prospects further into the buying journey and down the funnel by directing them to the next relevant video. Avoid the pitfall of the “request a demo” option. It works much better to use wording like “watch our demo now.” Simple changes like this will boost your conversion.

In order to take full advantage of video content, you need to understand the best strategies for using video as well as how to track and quantify its impact. The importance of video will only grow as we move further toward enterprise self-service. Let’s take a look at the four most common types of videos you should be creating.

Explainer Videos 

As the name alludes, this approach is best when you need to explain a complex product or service or differentiate your brand. 

Onboarding Videos 

This is typically a series of videos that welcome new customers and work to get them more familiar with a product or service by addressing key areas. Often these videos will include screen captures and audio instructions to show actions the customer will need to take.

Demo Videos 

This video approach allows you to demonstrate your product or service to show prospects exactly how it works. This type of video also makes use of screen captures and audio instructions. 

Testimonial Videos 

These videos are your opportunity to showcase satisfied customers to positively influence prospects. 

Top Tips For Maximum Results

These tips will help you achieve your video marketing goals and track your results. 

Shorter Is Better – The goal is to deliver relevant information as quickly as possible. Follow these time guidelines:

Explainer Videos: 45-90 seconds
Demo Videos: Maximum of 10 minutes
Onboarding Videos: 1-3 minutes
Testimonial Videos: 45-90 seconds

Using More Videos Is Better – Don’t think of your videos as a one-stop shop. Instead, realize that the most effective approach is to drip your content over a series of videos. Prospects are more likely to watch more short videos. 

Use Videos To Address Pitfalls – Use what you know about your sales funnel and any of its possible pitfalls and address them with videos that pull prospects down your funnel. 

Track the ROI Of Your Videos – You’ll want to track who watched what and how those views impacted your KPIs, influenced new leads, the amount of new pipeline, and new revenue generated. 

For marketers looking to deliver on the new self-service buyer journey, maximize their sales efficiency, and increase conversions, video is a must in your marketing strategy. Video delivers a full-funnel strategy that is proven effective. 

The Future of Digital Marketing

The digital marketing landscape has changed tremendously, and we can expect more of the same in the years to come. Our ability to work with user-level audience data will continue to evolve, creating obstacles and presenting opportunities. As always, marketers will be asking themselves questions like:

Addressability – What is the best way to reach my audience?

Segmentation – How do I differentiate my audience as needed?

Measurement – How do I determine the success of my marketing?

Growth – How do I keep my CPM down and grow?

Looking Beyond Just Sales To Measure Success

A critical component of digital marketing is measuring the cost per lead. However, moving forward, marketers will seek to measure the effectiveness of digital campaigns using a variety of changing metrics. We’ve already seen that process begin, thanks to recent changes with the elimination of cookies and other perishable IDs, browsers blocking ads and cross-channel targeting, etc.

Moving forward there will be a greater focus on the overall sales picture. Of course, sales are a critical measurement for the success of a campaign, but they are not the sole measurement. It’s increasingly important to also look at brand affinity, content engagement, e-mail/newsletter/membership/offer sign-ups, and shopping cart behavior to name a few. There was a time not long ago when CPMs were the sole gauge to measure the success of campaigns against chosen outcomes, but that will be less prevalent moving forward. 

Consumers are more particular than ever about what they are willing to consume in terms of content. They will continue to expect high-quality content. Marketers will need to find new ways to tell stories that connect them with their consumers who are seeking information and value in anything they listen to, watch, or read.

Studying Collected Data To Drive Sales And Strategy

Businesses collect more and more data on their audiences, but it’s what they do with that data that really counts. As targeting gets more complicated, data becomes more valuable. It will help dictate how marketers go about reaching a targeted audience. Marketers able to reach their targeted segment through digital platforms are able to justify paying a higher cost per lead. Digital marketing will continue to be built on data – even more so going forward. Marketers will be focused on the following priorities:

  • Data Quality
  • Valuation
  • Monetization

Data Quality Still Rules The Future Digital Marketing World

Data will only become more critical to digital marketing in the future. Marketers need quality data to make the connection between audience and value. With third-party cookies going away, some marketers are shifting to using first-party data to collect information about consumers. Zero-party data is also gaining attention. Zero-party data comes from customer surveys and polls, but first-party data comes from customer web activity. Marketers can use both data types to personalize their ad campaigns. 

Effective CRM management will also become more important to enable faster data access and analysis.

Marketers who improve their data quality and connectivity will be in a position to create more impactful campaigns and thus develop deeper relationships with their audience.

Valuation Methods Will Continue To Evolve And Improve

Now that the dust has settled on losing some digital identifiers that enabled marketers to target audiences (like cookies), we see that today there are even stronger tools for making identity connections with audiences that enable marketers to find extra value in the data that is collected. Marketers must remain open to change and stay abreast of changes. With heightened consumer expectations, new end-to-end experiences will need to be developed that are relevant, immersive, and frictionless at every touchpoint – from acquisition through engagement and retention.

Data Is The Future Of Monetization

Limits to third-party tracking have led to an accelerated need to access granular user data and powerful algorithms to drive effective targeting in order to personalize and monetize content experiences. Marketers must evaluate data collection methods and results on an ongoing basis, making adjustments when necessary. Having a good understanding of the data collected primes marketers to be able to monetize it by creating effective digital marketing. When marketers improve their data quality, they can build better campaigns, which leads to better relationships, which leads to sales. Also, marketers who feed their funnel with better data have higher user satisfaction and retention rates and more effective audience acquisition strategies.

We’ve seen major shifts in the digital marketing ecosystem, and more are certain to come. As marketers, we must view them as an opportunity to do our job more effectively and efficiently. What’s to come in digital marketing will help marketers enhance and connect first-party data in the evolving digital platform. Advanced tools will aide marketers in valuating audience data and unlock new ways to monetize it.

Subscribe to my monthly LinkedIn Newsletter: Digital Marketing Snapshot.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2023 

It’s difficult to stay up on all of the changes and new opportunities in digital marketing. Yet, with 1.5 billion social media users around the world, the demand for digital marketing only continues to grow – and consumers’ expectations right along with it. Consumers want increasingly rapid response times, a stellar user experience, and options for how they do business with the brands they choose.

Digital marketing, like never before, enables marketers to deliver what consumers want when they want it, using multiple platforms. The benefits of digital marketing on growing the bottom line cannot be overstated.

  • Target The Right Audience
  • Optimize And Improve Conversion Rates
  • Increase Customer Loyalty
  • Build Brand Credibility

Here are eight digital marketing trends you should plan for in 2023. It’s never too early to retool your strategy and transform your marketing efforts going forward.

1.  Gather Data Using Forms 

Our dependence on big data is as inescapable. It also has the power to be transformative, making it significantly more important to businesses. However, privacy laws have affected how marketers gather data. 2023 will bring with it a shift toward businesses being even more proactive in gathering data, using varying methods. Businesses will continue to implement savvy collection methods and analysis of the information gathered, integrating their findings into their digital marketing campaigns and using it to steer marketing decisions. 

The use of forms will continue to grow in 2023 because they are quick and easy and work so well to gather useful information on customers. Forms are a highly effective way to keep users engaged.

2. Include E-Mail Marketing

E-mail marketing will continue to be popular in the coming year because it’s so effective at generating leads. Nearly everyone in the world has an e-mail account, so that makes this platform a continued must for marketers looking to connect with customers and give them access to their brand. The success of any e-mail campaign ultimately relies on the list you are sending to. Make sure it’s highly targeted and cleaned up regularly.

3. Implement Real-Time Messaging Platforms 

Real-time messaging platforms enable marketers to reach customers quickly and directly, right when they are read to communicate with your brand. It’s also a great way to collect data so you can know as much about your customers as possible. Today’s customer is impatient, often seeking instant gratification. Empowering marketers and sales to be in contact with those eager to do business when they are ready to talk is powerful.

As these platforms mature, they’ll offer brands the mechanisms to capitalize even more on customer data for digital marketing initiatives.

4. Add Ease of Doing Business With Chatbots 

Chatbots have grown increasingly more popular with marketers – in fact, they are the fastest growing brand communication channel. That trend will continue in 2023. Chatbots enable a business to be available 24/7 to engage with customers who need assistance outside of standard business hours, which is a huge asset. 

5. Rethink Old Ways

According to a recent Drift survey, the most common frustrations reported by consumers include:

  1. Websites being hard to navigate (34%)
  2. Not being able to get answers to simple questions (31%)
  3. Basic details about a business — like address, hours of operations, and phone number — being hard to find (28%).

Clearly, the online experiences businesses are used to providing may no longer match with evolving customer demand and changing preferences in the ways customers prefer to buy. Customers increasingly want all of the information they seek at the touch of a button. If they have to work to learn about a brand, they will likely look to the competition.

6. Put Attention Into Details

Consumers are inundated with information. It is imperative that marketers put as much thought into their content and creative as they do in choosing the platforms they will run on. Marketers want their content to work to increase clicks and engagement. Pay close attention to creativity, making your brand stand out in the very crowded online market.

7. Be Strategic About Influencer Marketing 

What was once used by only a handful of brands has now become common practice. It is estimated that more than $16 billion will be spent on influencer-marketing programs by 2023. It’s no wonder then that influencer marketing will continue to boom next year and in the coming years. 

A huge word of caution here. Businesses must understand their vertical and know the type of influencer who will help promote their brand. Choosing the proper influencer can generate a great ROI. However, marketers frequently fall short in this area because they’ve chosen the wrong influencer who doesn’t have the relevant audience or reach for their brand. Marketers want to choose an influencer who can create a trust relationship between customers and brands through transparency and authenticity. To aide this process, marketers must have a thorough understanding of their target audience and then design campaigns that resonate with them. 

8. Consider Outsourcing to Digital Marketing Agency 

Outsourcing some or all of your digital marketing remains a great way to get more done, using the expertise and resources of an agency. An experienced digital marketing agency can help businesses get better overall results by developing strategies that leverage current technologies and best practices across all channels. 

Keeping these forecasted digital marketing trends on your radar and implementing those that work for your business will help you successfully grow your business in 2023 and beyond.

Subscribe to my monthly LinkedIn Newsletter: Digital Marketing Snapshot.

Technology Trends To Ignite Your Lead Gen in 2022

Quarter four is upon us. The numbers don’t lie. A majority of industry experts reported that weak technology infrastructure was the main reason businesses struggled so hard to survive during the pandemic. How about you? Is your technology where it needs to be? Technology isn’t a trend that is going away. There will be a continued move next year away from sales-centric models and toward working with digital lead resources—website, social media, content marketing, e-mail marketing, and others.

As you begin your allocations for next year’s marketing budget – and your lead generation, to be specific – keep the following information in mind. I’ve outlined the trends we’ll see next year and highlight what they mean for you and your lead generation strategy and budget. 

Digital Channels for Sales and Service

As we continue to try to distance ourselves from the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects it has had on our traditional lead gen activities, such as travel, conferences, tradeshows, lunch meetings, and other offline marketing and sales events, we must admit that some of the changes weren’t so bad. Marketers were forced to turn to automation to drive leads while still providing the best customer experience. Inbound and outbound lead generation saw the continued use of artificial intelligence in sales operations. Increasingly, more and more marketers used digital and online channels like video conferencing and live chat offerings to achieve their lead and sales performance targets. Lead generation activities will still be performed through offline channels, but increased emphasis will be placed on digital channels. 

Value-Based Selling to Secure Customers

An increase in digital business strategies means an increase in data available for your use. 2022 will see a movement toward better use of data to shape a value-based selling approach. This trend has marketers responding to their data in real time as a way to slowly build to a sale, showing prospects over time the value of their product or service. 

Artificial Intelligence to Increase Value

AI is becoming more widely used across a broader platform now. That will continue in 2022 and well beyond. More and more companies are looking to AI to improve lead generation and sales because this technology helps gather valuable data on existing as well as potential customers. This data then helps marketers develop  more effective marketing strategies to increase sales. AI is also an effective way to influence future behavior based on prior transactions or interactions and helps identify hot leads that are more likely to convert.

Also on the rise is the use of chatbots. This is a relatively easy way to enhance communication with prospects and customers and to provide better overall service. Chatbots allow companies to be available 24/7 to answer common questions and respond to typical issues. Customers report they love this option.

Better Customer Experience to Build Customer Loyalty

Nothing makes you value a personalized experience more than a global pandemic. Companies will use 2022 to continue work to enhance and personalize their brand’s customer experience. 

Social Media to Generate Better Leads 

Using social media to generate leads is nothing new. Companies will use 2022 to look for ideas to develop better ways of using social media platforms that make sense for their brand. Content will become more personalized using the data available. Video content marketing will continue to dominate, with experts predicting it will account for 82% of total Internet traffic. E-mail marketing is another hot area for 2022. That is because it is highly effective at influencing prospects. Researchers found that interactive e-mails increase their click-to-open rate by 73% and videos boost it an amazing 300%.

Marketers looking to grow in 2022 will want to capitalize on these trends to maintain a competitive advantage in the market.

The Producers Network is a digital media company specializing in franchise development marketing.  We’ve developed  first-party data, cookie-less advertising products and historical data analytics to deliver results.  Learn more at producerdigital.com

Clubhouse: How to Navigate and Stand Out Using the Newest Online Communications App


As I mentioned in my last blog, Clubhouse is the hot new app that is on everyone’s radar – especially now that it is no longer invite-only.  Clubhouse is a networking platform that enables users to start or join audio-only “rooms.” There are rooms for just about every topic, making Clubhouse a great hub for thought leadership, targeted networking, and industry insight.

As with any new platform, there is a bit of a learning curve. The Clubhouse app is pretty straightforward, but they are making changes to it pretty regularly. The app uses a lot of lingo, so here’s a quick guide to help you decipher all the new terms coming your way: 
 
Hallway – This is where you will be when you open the app. This is your hub where you can see rooms from your followers and the people you follow. If you want to load more rooms, scroll to the bottom of your screen and click on “🌍  Explore.”
 
Stage – Speakers are often on a stage, so that’s where you’ll find the speaker in this app. When you enter a room, the stage is at the top of your screen. It shows all of the moderators and speakers. 
 
Audience Members – If you are curious to see who all is in the room with you, look under the stage and you’ll see a list of muted listeners. Audience members can leave the room at any time without disrupting the talk. There is an icon to raise your hand to speak or you can send the moderator a text. 
 
Moderator – This is the person in charge of the talk. They will be indicated by a green and white asterisk on the list of people in the room. They control the Stage and who talks and when. 
 
PTR “Pull to Refresh” – The moderator will say “PTR” when they want the audience to refresh their screens by putting their finger at the top of their screen and swipe down. 
 
Ping – You can click on the “+” button right next to the Raise Your Hand button to invite a user into a room that you are in.
 
Once you are familiar with navigating the new app, it’s time to work on your brand and content on Clubhouse. As with all other platforms you use, you will need an engaging content strategy in order to gain organic traffic and build awareness. Here are some ideas to get you going:
 
1.     Follow clubs that your target market is interested in.
2.     Better yet, start a club and speak to your target market directly.
3.     Create an engaging and searchable bio that promotes your brand.
4.     Consider connecting your Instagram and Twitter accounts to Clubhouse so you can receive a direct
message in Clubhouse – and encourage those on Clubhouse to follow you on your social media.
 
That’s a quick run through of Clubhouse to get you going on this exciting, new platform. As I mentioned, Clubhouse is still growing and changing, so the best way to learn all of the newest ins and outs is to download the app, jump on, and start exploring.  

Clubhouse 101: Understanding the Newest Social Networking App

I’m guessing most of you have heard the buzz about Clubhouse. Maybe you’re even one of the people who had been clamoring to gain access by gaining an invitation to join? Well good news! As of July 21, 2021, Clubhouse is out of beta and open to everyone – no invitation to join is necessary anymore.

For those of you who haven’t heard about Clubhouse, it is a free social media app that is voice based rather than text based. It’s more like a private, interactive podcast. Clubhouse members join virtual rooms to have live, unscripted discussions. Topics cover just about anything you could ever want to talk about and with thousands of different rooms going on an any given night, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. 

“If you have a club, you can post your link far and wide. If you are a creator with an audience, you can bring them all on,” the company said in a recent blog post. “If you’re hosting a public event, anyone can attend. You can bring close friends, classmates, family members, coworkers, and anyone else you like — on iOS or Android,” the post added.

Just over a year since its launch in April 2020, Clubhouse has attracted 10 million users worldwide and is currently reportedly worth $1 billion. Currently, Clubhouse is available as an iOS or Android app. 

Once you join a live conversation on the app, the Host will moderate the conversation, so everyone “in” the room has an option to virtually contribute to the conversation, with the Host in charge of turning attendees’ mics on and off. New in July, hosts can now send and receive questions from the audience via text, and listeners can submit questions without wanting to speak.

Picture a semi-private ZOOM with everyone’s cameras turned off, which makes following who is talking difficult at time. Also, because of its audio-only format, there are some inherent challenges with content moderation, not too dissimilar to the same challenges faced by platforms that offer text, video and images, but the “live” element adds another layer of screening difficulty.

Founded by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, both of whom are well connected in the tech industry and worked at top companies, Clubhouse wasn’t developed to be exclusive. The founders said their goal with Clubhouse “was to build a social experience that felt more human — where instead of posting, you could gather with other people and talk.” In order to achieve that end, controls on membership needed to be created in order to build a new social ecosystem with a small team. With membership no longer invite-only, their vision for Clubhouse is fully underway. And, the recent deal Clubhouse struck with TED to bring exclusive talks on its platform means the Clubhouse reach is even broader.

Clubhouse is a unique way to gather a broad range of people in one place to discuss a specific topic. It’s no wonder that its membership reads like a who’s-who list of venture capitalists, tech leaders and celebrities. 

With this kind of success, competition is inevitable. Twitter has begun experimenting with a new feature called “Spaces,” which will be a live audio experience that enables multiple Twitter users to communicate and discuss or debate a topic. 

There are differences among its competition. On Clubhouse there’s no pressure to participate. Users simply listen to interesting people speak on interesting topics. The platform has both business and non-business topics, connecting diverse voices and global communities. Conversations on Twitter and Facebook groups can become free-for-alls, not so on Clubhouse. The moderator is in charge and can call on people who wish to speak, muting them if necessary. Any Clubhouse user can start a room and set it to be “open,” which indicates other users can pop in. A “social” room, however, indicates the room is only available to the people you follow. A “closed” room is for invited guests only. The app also has “clubs,” which can create reoccurring rooms and have members.

While it experienced explosive initial growth, Clubhouse is now at a tricky stage of growth. With all success comes hurdles, and Clubhouse has its share: user complaints about unclear moderation policies, failure to invest adequate resources in policing harassment or hate speech. Concerns have been raised, mostly by women and people of color, about cyberbullying, anti-Semitism, misogynoir, misinformation on COVID-19, etc.

Clubhouse says any hate speech and bullying are against its Community Guidelines, but users want more action.

As a growing number of people engage online, social media platforms need to adapt and grow to enable more people to connect in even more diverse and varied ways. Clubhouse is an exciting (though somewhat flawed) new platform that has many online users pretty excited to use it.

In my next blog, I will discuss more specifics of Clubhouse to help you get the most out of this new platform.  

The Producers Network is a digital media company specializing in franchise development marketing.  We’ve developed  first-party data, cookie-less advertising products and historical data analytics to deliver results.  Learn more at producerdigital.com

Three Things to Do Right Now to Get New Customers in a Cookie-Less World

I mentioned on this blog already that Apple and Google will no longer support tracking technologies like third-party cookies. This move has undoubtedly left many marketers scrambling to find good alternatives to enable them to continue to effectively communicate with their prospects. 

When change occurs, it’s easy to focus on what you have lost. However, I encourage you to focus on what you may still have or what you may still do. You could be sitting on a wealth of first-party data that customers have agreed to share with you.  And if you aren’t in that fortunate position, I encourage you to begin now to consider how you will generate new customers without cookies.

Here are three ways to help you get new customers without cookies.  Think of this as an initial plan that will help you prepare for a cookie-less world. 

1.  Audit how you are currently using cookies 

In order to prepare for a cookie-less marketing world, start with auditing how you use cookies now.  Study how cookies are used in your current digital strategy and if they are necessary. What is your retargeting strategy? You should seek to have a full understanding regarding how you collect data now and how the loss of retargeting will affect how you collect data moving forward.

2.  Focus on first-party data

Since you can’t borrow data from Facebook and Google, you need to own it.  In most cases you already do or you are working with a media agency that can gather it for you.  So, what does this mean for advertisers? Here’s what it means:

Focus your marketing efforts on capturing more data from your current customers. Try to acquire e-mail addresses with their consent.

3.  Rethink your data sources

Third-party data will help you better understand your target market, their interests, demographics, etc. More traditional data collection like surveys will help you better predict audience behavior from samples.

The changes from a cookie-less world can be challenging.  If you need help determining the best approach to defining your customers’ identity and how to use first-party data to grow your revenue, please contact me.

The Producers Network is a digital media company specializing in franchise development marketing.  We’ve developed  first-party data, cookie-less advertising products, and historical data analytics to deliver results.  Learn more on our website.

No More Cookies and Retargeting…Now What?

How to Target Customers Under the New Digital Advertising Privacy Rules

The phase-out is well underway with regard to the changes Apple and Google made to each of its longstanding ad targeting practices.  Add to these the new privacy regulations that are quickly gaining momentum, and it’s no wonder advertisers are looking for ways to shake up how they target and measure their ads’ effectiveness.

There’s no denying the industry is changing. As e-commerce accelerates and platforms continue to clamp down on ad targeting, companies must master data and digital technologies. To facilitate this long-term competitive advantage, companies should consolidate insights collected from first-party data such as marketing and social media, as well as retail,  e-commerce sales, and lead generation. This valuable information can then be used to design tailored messaging to your different audiences. Big brand companies have begun doing this and are reporting impressive sales increases, higher ad recall, and increases in consumers’ likelihood of buying its brands versus benchmarks.

All that data you are likely already collecting must be well organized to produce optimum insight so you can leverage it at a scale that works for your needs. Keep in mind that not all data is created equal, some will be better predictors of behavior than others. For example, purchasing history and geographic location work well to predict behavior – like someone living in a hot environment is likely to buy a cold beer – than traditional demographics. Also, compare your data to that of your competition. Chances are your first-party data will outperform other media platform’s consumer segments.

Regional marketing programs also enable you to gather useful information on consumers because it gives you an opportunity to collect more nuanced first-party data, which helps improve your targeting, ROI, and research and development. This data can help you determine how much to spend on each platform, the success of each ad, and the point of diminished returns. This decreases your reliance on any one media platform.

Both Facebook and Google are working with digital advertisers to help determine the best way to utilize first-party data.  Facebook’s Lookalike program is a great use of generating the right impressions, traffic, and lead generation opportunities.