7 Tips For Creating An Award-Winning Case Study Video



Women smiling on an interview set with a bookcase behind herHere’s a compelling statistic: 69% of B2B marketers use case studies to help generate leads. Pair that with the 88% of video marketers reporting that video gives them a positive ROI, and the business opportunity for a case study video really comes into focus.

Here, we outline seven tips that have helped Karbo Com create videos that won over the minds of target audiences, (and the hearts of judges and award committees!).

Most recently our client, Penguin Computing, came to us to help promote the company’s involvement in Director Ang Lee’s blockbuster film Gemini Man in advance of the film’s world premiere. Karbo Com harnessed the power of a video case study to highlight the company’s solution and convey how it was essential to making the film a reality. 

Managing the entire video production process from conception to completion, the Karbo team developed a project plan and led the initiative smoothly, ahead of schedule and within the scope of the budget. The final videos were strategically released on social media, online, and at Penguin Computing’s biggest trade show event of the year. In recognition of the Gemini Man case study videos, Karbo Communications was awarded a Gold 2020 Hermes Creative Awards and won the 2020 Silver Telly Award.


1. Define Your Target Audience

The foundation for any case study starts with clearly defining who that target audience is and what drives their decision making. Honing your message to cater to a clearly defined audience will propel your case study video to have the greatest impact possible. 

Don’t know where to start? Ask your comms team to assist in developing personas to outline actionable insights about your target audience. Communications teams are experts at understanding where your message should land and how to get it to stick. 


2. Precisely Outline What You Want to Accomplish

The next step in the development process is crystalizing your communication goals and objectives. Begin by understanding what compels your target audience to take action by answering the following questions:

  • How do we outperform competitors in our market?
  • What are the key messages that will most clearly convey our benefits?
  • What do we want the audience to know, feel, and do after having watched the video?
  • What key elements of our messaging lend themselves well to video?

Once you have a firm grasp of what your goal is and what your objectives are, gather assets such as white papers, customer testimonials, and statistics to help illustrate your points. Having a specific goal and clearly articulated objectives allows you to evaluate materials you can use to support your “case,” and eliminate what’s extraneous. With those materials in hand, your communications team can begin crafting questions that guide your subjects to tell a compelling story.


3. Ask Leading Questions To Craft Your Story

When spearheading the development of a case study video, you’ll need to coax the right answers from sources. Guide your subjects to help tell your story by developing questions that cut to the chase. 

Ask questions that provoke your subjects elaborate on the following aspects of the project:

  • The situation
  • The problem
  • The solution
  • The outcome

Keep in mind that questions should always remain open-ended to stimulate interview subjects to expound on their thoughts. Follow that protocol and you may find yourself with some additional soundbites you didn’t even know you wanted!


Director Ang Lee filming Will Smith in Gemini Man

Behind the scenes at Karbo Com’s video for Penguin Computing showcasing how our client’s technology enabled director Ang Lee to bring Gemini Man to life.

4. Storyboard & Script the Narrative

A storyboard is a visual representation of a film sequence and breaks down the video’s elements into individual panels. Storyboarding your case study video will allow you to clearly establish the flow of the narrative and visualize how shots will flow and work together. It’s important to keep your visual brand identity in mind throughout the process to keep the video’s look and feel consistent with your brand. Ensure you have complete internal alignment on language, tone, and visuals before starting on the storyboard. The last thing you want is to discover the need to pivot halfway through production, wasting both time and money.

In the script, clearly articulate the opportunity, the solution, and the positive outcome. Support those key components with exciting and engaging visuals that illustrate, give color, and provide visual context to the story told by your interview subjects. Substantiate your successes by including data points in the script that highlight the impact your solution provided.

Lastly, include a “call to action” in your case study that drives your target audience to engage with your brand or your product. Remember, the greater goal of your case study video is to support marketing efforts, ultimately contributing to your bottom line.




5. Project Management is Critical

Assign a project manager to lead the planning process and handle day-to-day coordination to streamline production. Their role will be crucial in developing a production schedule and anticipating any roadblocks that could hinder progress. There are many moving parts from scheduling interviews and securing b-roll, to managing budget, location and props. It only takes one broken link in the chain to disrupt the entire production. Avoid that unnecessary headache by setting a realistic production schedule, emphasize production design and experienced direction, and secure buy-in from key stakeholders.

For the case study we orchestrated for Penguin Computing, the Karbo Com team assumed the role of project manager, setting the project budget, developing the storyboard and scripts, hiring a production team, and creating a launch plan that was ultimately executed and measured. Organizing all those components under one management umbrella allowed for a seamless production.


6. Keep It Brief

Video length matters! In fact, there’s a significant drop in viewer retention for videos longer than 2 minutes. Of course, length will vary depending on the content and the platform you are publishing to, but keep in mind that less is often more. 

Graph of average engagement vs. video length from Wistia

Average engagement vs. video length courtesy of Wistia

The best practice is to create cuts of varied length to best suit your website and social platforms. We’ve aggregated the optimal lengths per platform:

  • Instagram — 30 seconds or less
  • LinkedIn — 30 seconds to 5 minutes
  • Facebook — 2 minutes or less
  • Twitter — 20 to 45 seconds
  • YouTube — 2 minutes or less
  • Website — 5 to 10 minutes

For Penguin Computing, we developed a number of videos at varying lengths — allowing us to optimize each video for the specific platform it was published on and maximize engagement.


7. Launch Strategy

You’ve just finished your video. How do you decide when, where and how you’ll use it in your marketing efforts? There are a couple of ways you can boost visibility right off the bat:

  • Use company social accounts to promote the launch (you can even create a specific hashtag)
  • Optimize the video content for SEO by ensuring an SEO-friendly headline and appropriate meta descriptions and tags
  • Encourage internal teams and relevant contacts to share and engage with the case study from their own social accounts

To drive further visibility, work with your PR team to gauge where, when, and how content like a video case study should be promoted. Leverage your PR team’s expansive network of relationships with reporters, analysts, and influencers to get your message in front of the right people at the right time.


Thinking about creating your own case study video? Get in touch with us and see how we can work to develop a video that will help you achieve your goals.

How To Create Unbeatable Brand Positioning That Moves Markets | 5 Tips from Karbo Com’s CEO Julie Karbo


WITI Virtual Summit Banner for Julie Karbo's presentation on "Creating Positioning That Moves Markets"

Last week, our CEO Julie Karbo led a Coaching Circle at the 2020 Women in Technology International Virtual Summit. A marketing expert who has helped thousands of craft successful brand narratives, Julie shared pages from her playbook on how to successfully move markets.


Branding & Positioning: Why It’s Important

Why is branding important? If you’ve got a better product it will sell itself, right? If only it was that easy. The streets of Silicon Valley are littered with failed companies that had great products, but didn’t tell their story in a way that moved hearts, minds and wallets. We’ve all seen examples of messaging that fails to accurately communicate a company’s value, differentiation and vision.

Branding exercises lay the foundation of a company’s communications with customers, partners, investors or any other entity that has a stake in what they do. The branding exercise itself is complex, time consuming and rigorous. It requires a commitment from the CEO to participate wholly and she or he must mandate the same from other members of the C-Suite. It’s critical that there be a commitment to unflinching honesty and self evaluation, with an exercise leader that asks the right questions, keeps the process productive, moving forward and free of arrogance and power plays. Those are just table stakes. Then comes the hard part.




Nailing Your Message

Branding is never a one-meeting-and-you’re done proposition. It takes a great deal of internal and external research, the ability to audit key audiences, collaboration across the highest levels of the organization, and a willingness to test its efficacy. Without this commitment companies can fail to craft the right narrative. It’s not as rare as you think. According to Forbes, only 1 in 4 corporate brands is perceived as different from their competitors.

Effective positioning: 

  • Speaks to the needs and motivations of key stakeholders
  • Demonstrates strong, specific differentiation
  • Includes compelling language that is tied to current trends
  • Accurately describes the company’s mission, vision and products/services
  • Drives results


Know What You Need to Know

Where does it all begin? With the customer. Do you have robust persona(s) of your target customer(s)? What are their demographics? What do they read? How do they make product purchase decisions? What do they do in their spare time? What keeps them up at night? What’s causing and alleviating their pain and what’s not?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. A quality persona profile reflects the prism by which your customer judges you. Many executives believe it’s based solely on their product features. This is partially true, but remember your solution isn’t simply your technology platform and product, it includes the quality of your management team, what reporters, influencers, partners, your support teams and the competition say about you and more. At Karbo Com we call it the Whole Product Prism.


“Executing the branding exercise flawlessly is one of the most important things you will do as a company. Devoting resources is important. But just as critical is making a commitment to truth, introspection and collaboration.”


Getting Branding & Positioning Right

Once we have our foundational research done, we begin to craft the narrative. At Karbo Com, we manage the overarching process, and will craft the first draft of straw man messaging according to three categories: market, technology/product and company.  These straw man messages are discussed with the whole team and once these narratives are finalized they are tested with customers, partners and other influencers.


A slide from CEO Julie Karbo's presentation on "Creating Positioning That Moves Markets"

A slide from Julie’s presentation outlining a few markers of good positioning.


How Do We Know It’s Working?

Measuring branding efficacy requires accountability, and accountability starts with the identification of qualitative and quantifiable KPIs. Karbo Com then uses analytic platforms to help determine success metrics. One size doesn’t fit all. Measurement is a function of the unique needs of each company. Key components can include sales leads, sentiment, competitive response, influencer concept tests, share of voice and a host of other metrics. 

Executing the branding exercise flawlessly is one of the most important things you will do as a company. Devoting resources is important. But just as critical is making a commitment to truth, introspection and collaboration. Finally, you have to pledge loyalty to your narrative — to tell your unique story in a way that moves markets.


Looking to up-level your branding & positioning? Contact us. 

Creating Business as Usual in Unusual Times: 5 Communications Tips for Navigating COVID-19 Fallout


Technology marketing is unlike any other. It demands a different way of thinking and rapid adaptability. Tech marketers, like Apple’s famous tagline, ‘think different’.  In the past, tech’s expansive influence on the world granted us the ability to thrive, even in hard times. But we’ve moved from the Wild West to Westworld. While we crave normalcy, nothing may ever be the same.   

How can brands and PR teams create an island of calm for employees, customers, partners and prospects when the environment around them is tumultuous?  How can we help ensure that our relationships continue to work? Nimble PR and communications are a critical element of a company’s HR, marketing, sales and new business strategies and actions. Here are five communication tips to consider in these unprecedented times:



Be transparent

The current climate has affected many companies’ ability to operate at full capacity. If the pandemic has affected your team’s ability to deliver services or products, communicate with your customers and community immediately. Set expectations for delays while confirming your ongoing commitment to the quality of your relationship. Regular updates will likely buy you much needed patience.


Be responsive

With inquiries from the media, customers, and prospects alike, don’t leave anyone hanging. A quick acknowledgement of receipt to confirm that you’re working through requests can go a long way for brand sentiment.


Avoid the urge to overdo communication

Continuing marketing activities is a priority, but keep in mind that everyone is receiving communication from what feels like every vendor they’ve ever had contact with and a host of new ones. Many simply ask if there’s anything they can do to help. Limit your communications to what is necessary and focus on relevancy and targeted solutions over concerned platitudes.


Ensure your PR focus is nimble and reflects understanding

The news cycle will be heavily focused on global health for some time. This is to be expected for a once-in-a-hundred-years event. While different industries, including the media, adjust to what may be the new normal, their priorities and interests have shifted. The major announcement that you’ve been planning for months may not be able to be a top priority for reporters at the moment. Consult with your PR team on messaging — does your product have impact and new relevance for your customers and their customers? If so, recast your messaging for greater impact. If not, assess your timeline. Be realistic about releasing company news right now, and whether revisiting your timeline or new vehicles for these announcements makes more sense and means better results.


Be a resource

While your company news might not make the most sense for media right now, identify other  ways your team can be a resource. For example, do you have insights or data that validate a market trend the media is seeing during these challenging times? Package them in a way that is clear and poignant.


As tech marketers, we’re used to adapting to and creating change.  While we’re not driving this revolution as we have others, we can control the way we respond. We can help make sure our relationships continue to function and grow as we navigate this ‘new normal.’

Three Overlooked Secrets to Social Media Success


Increasingly, brands are realizing the value of brand storytelling on social media, yet countless tech companies continue to use their channels exclusively to shout product announcements and updates into the ether. Don’t get us wrong: promotional content can be an important part of the equation—but if your company’s editorial calendar consists only of announcements and CTAs, you’re failing to embrace the full potential of your brand’s social media presence.

Purposeful and effective social media content strategy begins with a clear understanding of how shared content supports company objectives. We’ve identified three essential—yet often overlooked or underutilized—types of social media content designed to support key objectives whether your tech company is B2B or B2C, including instructive examples from those companies doing it right.



When designing your content marketing strategy, be sure you’re leveraging social media to:


1. Educate

Educational social content provides your audience with informative, relevant content—it’s not about making a hard sell, it’s about building a relationship and positioning your brand as a trusted authority. The key to producing educational content that resonates is knowing your audience and addressing their pain points by connecting them with the information they need.

Take a cue from: Cloud-based HR platform Gusto


What they did:
  • Gusto created informational videos on Facebook to help small businesses get educated on relevant, timely topics in their areas of expertise.


The R&D Tax Credit for Small Businesses, Explained

Do you know about the new R&D tax credit? If not, you could be leaving $250,000 on the table. Here’s how it works and how to claim it. #AskGusto

Posted by Gusto on Wednesday, September 12, 2018


Why it works
  • Gusto services businesses by assisting them with payroll, so they position themselves as finance educators to drive B2B marketing.
  • Unlike other platforms, Facebook’s video run time is unrestricted, making it the perfect social media platform to post longer informational videos.
  • These videos aren’t longer than 3 minutes and include helpful graphics to illustrate their points.
  • The main objective of these videos is to position Gusto as an active company whose main mission is to help small businesses accomplish their goals.
  • These videos are not directly about their product. They aren’t selling, there is no CTA—they are building a relationship with their customer


  • The videos depict Gusto as a dedicated company intent on building strong B2B relationships through education.
  • Positions Gusto as a thought leader by helping small businesses navigate some of the situations that arise when growing a business and expanding.


2. Attract talent

The ongoing talent shortage continues to pose major challenges—a recent Gartner report ranks the global talent shortage as the top risk today’s organizations face, above accelerating privacy regulation, cloud computing, and the rapid pace of change. Social media is a great place to communicate the benefits of working at your company that aren’t adequately captured in a job description alone. If your hiring-focused content is limited to job opening announcement posts only, consider broadening your social strategy to include content that highlights important aspects like your company’s culture, ethos, and perks.


Take a cue from: Food-tech company Eat Club


What they did
  • Eat Club posted a photo on LinkedIn of the company at a company-sponsored event to promote their success and celebration of their employees.



Why it works
  • Eat Club’s post highlights fun events they participate in which can be an attractive prospect for potential hires.
  • It’s not a run-of-the-mill hiring post with a stock image, it includes a candid photo of smiling employees enjoy the perks of Eat Club.
  • It uses specific hashtags to land on the feeds of those looking for work or looking to switch up their company culture.


  • The LinkedIn post received 55 likes which is significantly more than their average of 20 likes per post.
  • It positioned them as a company that doesn’t just care about their own bottom line but promotes employee development through bonding.


3. Humanize

Your job isn’t just about showcasing your company’s innovations—it’s about showcasing the people behind those innovations. In tech we often deal with abstract ideas that need to be molded into human-facing concepts, and companies that need to be transformed from purely transactional entities to institutions people can connect with emotionally. All too often organizations lack humanity in their messages, and when this happens it can be difficult to create a meaningful connection with your audience. Part of your social content strategy needs to be dedicated to forging and nurturing that connection by telling those human stories about your people and the people they serve. 


Take a cue from: Marketing platform Mailchimp


What they did
  • Mailchimp promoted the company’s presence in 3 U.S. locations by making socks featuring the colors of each city’s transit system.
  • Here, Mailchimp employee Estela models a pair of the socks while a quote from her is featured in the tweet.



Why it works
  • While Mailchimp is a digital marketing automation company, the brand focuses heavily on the humans behind the service they provide, making it relatable.
  • The tweet includes a bright and colorful, eye catching photo of Estela.
  • Mailchimp allows Estela to speak for herself, telling part of the story. We get to hear her voice, which adds a degree of authenticity.


  • The post garnered 40 retweets, over 300 likes, and slew of comments from people interested in getting their hands on a pair of Maillchimp’s socks



Interested in upping your brand’s social media content next quarter? Karbo Com can help. We specialize in creative PR services including:


  • Social media strategy
  • Social media content production
  • Brand messaging

Contact info@karbocom.com to learn more.

Why Executive Positioning Matters


Who has time for the seemingly trivial and vanity-fueled pursuit of personal branding when you’ve got a business to run? Executive positioning, or the strategic art of defining, promoting, and leveraging an executive’s personal brand, rarely tops the C suite to-do list. The ROI on executive positioning is indirect; dollars and cents logic might dictate that it’s a luxury businesses just can’t afford.

Yet now more than ever, executive positioning is crucial.

Consider today’s sociopolitical climate. The ubiquity of social media has set new precedents for personal visibility and self expression; today it’s normal to actively and publicly share your point of view. And now more than ever it feels important to speak up. Polarizing politics and social issues amplify our differences, moving us to define and defend our beliefs in the public arena. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that many of the most profound, socially impactful, culturally altering moments in recent history have started with someone coming forward to speak up.

This new era belongs to the visibly purpose-driven.

This applies to brands just as it applies to individuals. In today’s world of brand activism, companies are expected to define their beliefs, to be vocal and transparent about those beliefs, and to act in accordance with them. Purpose-driven companies like Patagonia, Google, and Nike are setting the standard. Consumers now expect brands to be purpose-driven, and are less trusting of those who are not. The enlightened consumer doesn’t want to be sold to, they want to share a set of principles and beliefs. In the aftermath of recent, serious breaches of public trust, customers are rightfully skeptical. In order to trust brands, consumers must agree with the brand’s principals.

And companies are recognizing that brand purpose is more than a stunt, it’s a driver of business growth. Increasingly, consumers are making purchase decisions based on a brand’s political position and stance on social issues. Purpose-led brands report higher customer and employee acquisition and retention rates.

Now, in order for a company to be genuinely and successfully purpose-driven, that purpose must first be embraced by the company itself—its employees, starting with the company’s leadership. Successful purpose-driven companies are led by leaders who embody company principals. These leaders act as the primary brand evangelists both within the company and externally, effectively communicating and representing the brand’s position. They are visible and apparently aligned with and invested in the company’s core values.

In today’s cultural climate, executives who are not strategically aligned with the companies they lead, who are not visible, active proponents of company causes, and who are not outspoken risk compromising brand trust and, to that end, are a liability. Only when a company’s purpose is aligned with the purpose of its employees and the purpose of the consumers buying the company’s products can you have an authentic brand movement. And that alignment is contingent on successful executive positioning.

Executive positioning isn’t about inflating an executive’s sense of self importance; it isn’t an exercise in vanity, nor is it an exercise done in vain. If ever executive positioning was a nice-to-have, in today’s world it has certainly become a need-to-have.

A few tips for doing it well:

Craft your story

  • Determine where you stand on relevant subjects. The stronger and clearer your stance, the better. In order to gain public trust, it’s not enough just to stand as a company representative. You’ve got to be relatable, human. Your interests must include, but also extend beyond company values.
  • Build in time and establish an active channel of communication with your PR team for sharing your evolving thoughts and opinions. Often times, executives have great thoughts that never end up being leveraged. Share your ideas with your PR team in real-time so they can pick out the gems, decide which ideas to share, and determine where to dig deeper.

Master your storytelling

  • Work with your PR team to polish your presentation, prepare for interviews, and train for interactions with the media. With preparation and training comes confidence.

Tell your story

  • Many executives are advised to only speak to the media when you have good news to share and to stick to the script. We take a different approach. We help executives exercise transparency when things aren’t going as planned, fostering a better, more genuine relationship with the media that pays off in dividends in the long run. This kind of media relationship builds a shared sense of understanding between executives and members of the press; when things do  go wrong, the press is more willing to be understanding.
  • Work with your PR team to develop a strong social media presence. For executives who are too busy for active social media, consider letting your PR agency manage your accounts for you.


Interested in learning more about what executive positioning can do for you and your brand? Get in touch. Karbo Com specializes in executive positioning services including:

  • Executive storytelling
  • Executive media relations
  • Media training
  • Presentation/speaking opportunity prep
  • Executive social media management
  • Executive thought leadership campaigns
  • Executive byline articles

Contact courtney [at] karbocom [dot] com to learn more.


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Old Websites Are Bad for SEO. Here’s How to Fix Yours

Search engine optimization is constantly changing. What worked last year (or even last month) may no longer be an effective strategy.

Just look at the way SEO has changed in the last decade.

Ten years ago, keyword-dense pages were viewed as the surest path to the top of search results. In response, marketers started stuffing keywords everywhere — on the home page, in half-baked blog posts, even on the background of pages in white (read: hidden) text.

After that it was backlinks. Google no longer trusted marketers to be honest about their sites, so it turned to external sources as a form of social proof. The more links pointing back to a website, the more relevance and value Google assigned it.

Of course, enterprising marketers quickly found a way around this as well. Websites full of spoofed content sprang up overnight, providing hundreds (if not thousands) of fake backlinks to companies.

Today, Google is taking a new approach to SEO. Instead of relying solely on content to determine results, the search giant is also looking at user experience.

The logic behind this is fairly simple — a search engine’s primary function is to serve people the best results. If a page is slow to load, riddled with pop-up ads or hard to read on mobile devices, it negatively impacts the user experience. Google views these pages as “poor” results and penalizes them in its search algorithm.

Making sense of the latest trends

Right now, the prevailing thought among SEO experts is that the following issues negatively impact a website’s ranking:

  • Pages that are slow to load
  • Pages that are “top heavy” with too many advertisements above the fold
  • Pages that are not mobile friendly
  • Pages with duplicate content
  • Pages with outdated content
  • Pages with low-quality content, e.g., spun articles or pages with 1-2 paragraphs of text

As a content marketer or web designer, this presents a unique challenge. How do you optimize your website for the future if the rules are constantly shifting?

Fortunately, everyone has to play by the same rulebook. The brands that find success are the ones that:

  1. Pay attention to the latest SEO trends and best practices.
  2. Are willing (and able) to quickly implement content and design updates, based on the latest best practices.
  3. Understand the needs and motivations of their target audience.

That last bullet point is especially important. It doesn’t matter if you rank highly for keywords your audience is no longer searching for — you need to meet them where they are already located.

If you want to rank higher in search results, your website needs to be optimized for the current best practices. That means a responsive design that works on all devices. It means pages that load quickly and aren’t bogged down by too many ads. It means informative content that’s easy to access and gives people a reason to stay.

Why does my bounce rate matter?

Imagine opening a report on your website’s traffic and discovering that your home page has a bounce rate of 50 percent.

In simple terms, this means that every other person who visits your home page leaves without clicking anywhere else on the site.

Are alarm bells ringing in your head?

They really shouldn’t be. As a general rule of thumb, a bounce rate below 40 percent is considered excellent. Anything between 40 and 60 percent is considered average. It isn’t until you hit rates of 70 percent and higher that there is real cause for concern.

Of course, no marketer worth their salt is going to be happy losing half of their potential customers. If 40 percent is considered excellent, why not push for 30 percent?

Lowering your bounce rate is one of the most effective ways to improve your website’s ranking in search results. If your rate is too high, Google assumes that you were a poor result for that search query.

How do I lower my bounce rate?

There are three things you can tweak to lower your bounce rate — your content marketing, your demand generation strategy and your website’s design:

  • Content Marketing: Content marketing is great for driving traffic to your site and giving people a reason to stay. For SEO purposes, try to display recent content or updates near the top of your page. Not only will this give visitors something to click on, but it will make your site appear fresh to Google’s search crawlers.
  • Demand Generation: Are your paid ads and outreach efforts attracting the right audience? If the wrong people view your website, it doesn’t matter how strong your positioning is or how modern your site looks — your conversion rate will suffer. It’s also important to point people to the right place. If you are targeting a particular segment of your audience, you may want to create a dedicated landing page that addresses their unique needs and pain points. You can point your paid ads, marketing collateral and social links to this page, saving your visitors the effort of finding it themselves.
  • Design: The way your content is presented has a huge impact on its ability to capture attention. Make sure your positioning statements are prominently displayed and visible as soon as someone visits your page, on any device. Don’t ask your visitors to scroll too far down to see relevant information. Whenever possible, avoid nesting content on sub-pages — people have a hard time navigating multi-level menus on mobile devices.

If all three of these elements are working in lockstep, your brand should have a content marketing program that is targeted, easily accessible and front of mind for any website visitors.

At Karbo Communications, we specialize in content marketing programs that increase visibility and drives sales. Our team of marketers and search engine experts can help your brand cut through the confusion around SEO and deliver lasting results.

Hyper-Personalized Marketing That Won’t Land You in Front of Congress

Oh, to be an ad man in the 1960s.

If you believe everything you see on TV, marketing back then was a simpler game. Successful ad campaigns looked something like this: one perfect slogan, jotted on the back of a cocktail napkin and delivered en masse to a single audience.

Marketing segmentation? Not needed when your “ideas guy” was equal parts intuition, good looks and whiskey. Hyper-personalization? Heck, they hadn’t even gotten to personalization yet.

Halcyon times, indeed.

Fast forward to today’s marketers, who understand that effective messaging requires a more personal touch. Modern consumers want to be recognized – and treated – as individuals. The success of most campaigns is determined by a company’s ability to interpret consumer data and predict future behavior.

Getting up close and hyper-personal

A big trend in content marketing is hyper-personalization, or campaigns tailored to an individual’s past behavior. Modern consumers expect companies to get them on a personal level, and they prefer nuanced, relevant messaging that speaks to their interests.

In fact, Marketo found that 79% of consumers will reject an offer from a company if it isn’t tailored to their previous brand experience.

Today’s personalization goes far beyond yesterday’s tricks of inserting a subscriber’s name into the body of an email or sending a reminder about the toaster sitting in their shopping cart.

Hyper-personalized campaigns can predict when a person is most likely to open a message, whether they respond better to emails or push notifications, and even where in the customer journey to send a discount code or BOGO offer.

Target the right people… the right way

Few things are more frustrating to consumers than the kind of “spray and pray” marketing that led to the creation of junk folders.

According to a recent Accenture survey, 75% of people are more likely to buy from brands that provide recommendations based on their unique wants and needs.

Data-driven marketing that drives hyper-personalization campaigns can help brands reach consumers more effectively by answering these questions:

  • Who should I target?
  • Where in the customer journey should I target them?
  • Who should I filter out of a message?
  • How often should I contact each consumer?
  • Which channel should I use?

To answer these questions, marketers are collecting data at every touchpoint — and using artificial intelligence to help make sense of it all.

There and back again: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

In March 2018, The New York Times and other newspapers reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that counted former Trump aide Steve Bannon among its board members, improperly used Facebook data to build voter profiles before the 2016 presidential election.

The scandal – and resulting fallout – landed Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress and brought “big data” into the national zeitgeist. This event triggered millions of people to start to realize just how often their private information was being used by businesses.

By May 2018, a number of companies and public figures had paused their Facebook marketing campaigns or deleted their profiles outright. Additionally, Facebook suspended 200 apps amid an ongoing investigation into whether services on the site had improperly used or collected personal data.

The long-term effects of the scandal are still unknown, but it has forced companies to re-evaluate their data collection practices — and how they communicate these policies to consumers.

What’s next for data-driven marketing?

The age of big data and personalization is upon us.

A recent study by Frost & Sullivan concluded that customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator within three years.

Unfortunately, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has cast a pallor over the industry and raised questions about data-mining practices going forward.

How do companies deal with privacy in a world of readily available personal data? How should they collect information that will help them make better business decisions, without betraying customers? Most importantly, how do they communicate this to consumers in a way that builds trust?

Getting people excited about hyper-personalization

While it would be a stretch to draw too close a parallel between most hyper-personalized campaigns and Cambridge Analytica stealing private data, there’s little doubt that people want to know when, where, how and why their information is being used.

As a brand, how do you build trust and communicate the value of your data-driven marketing efforts? Try some of these best practice guidelines from your peers:

  • Be transparent: Being honest and upfront about how you collect – and act on – user data is a great starting point. You don’t have to share your marketing team’s secret blend of metrics and personas with the world, but you also shouldn’t act like you have something to hide. Whenever possible, use clear, simple terms to describe your brand’s data mining and use policies.
  • Avoid marketing fatigue: No one likes to waste time deleting unread, barely relevant messages from their inbox. Knowing who to filter out of a message can be the difference between a successful campaign and a lost subscriber.
  • Be engaging: If your brand is able to turn user data into content that is engaging and personalized, you’ll have a much easier time convincing people to share their personal information. Just make sure they understand that hyper-personalization can only happen when you know what they like — and why.
  • Follow the rules: The topic of data rights has been a hotly contested issue for years. With the May 2018 implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the conversations surrounding data protection and privacy will continue to evolve. Even if your company does not do business within the EU, you still need to be aware of the rules surrounding your website and online presence.

The ability to send more relevant, better perceived messages is changing the way brands and consumers interact.

As companies gain new insights into the way people think and behave, they have a growing responsibility to use this information in an open, honest manner. Failure to do so – as demonstrated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal – can have disastrous effects.

So how should you communicate your brand’s data-mining practices?

Like all the best marketing campaigns, the right strategy will be uniquely tailored to your brand and audience. As long as you pay attention and listen to the data, you’ll be able to share this information in a way that builds trust.