Who Is a Hot Surprise? Never Use Your Worst Photo!

Welcome to the Silly Season! In the UK, that’s what they call this hot, sleepy time when there is less real news. This is the time of year news media publish light, fluffy, off-beat stories that would never make it past the editors during the rest of the year. In the U.S. they call this The Dog Days of Summer. This is the time of year when half your emails get autoreply “Out of the office on vacation” responses, and you may find yourself with more time to read ClickZ!

So in the spirit of summer, enjoy the silliness!

Silly Stuff #1: Who is a Hot Surprise? Never Use Your Worst Photo!

As marketers, we all set out to optimize the effectiveness of our campaigns, and determining which words generate the highest rates of engagement is a good place to start. According to content syndication platform Outbrain, these words are the best for engagement (in descending order): “who,” “hot,” “surprise.” Negative superlatives such as “never” and “worst” are also powerful, as is the word “photo.”

So here’s a tip for your next Outbrain campaign – make the headline “Who’s a Hot Surprise? Never use your worst photo!” It may have nothing to do with your product or service but it should engage like crazy.

Silly Stuff #2: Digital Declines in Popularity, Interest in Sex Grows

There seems to be an endless flow of articles, blogs and speeches at conferences telling us how the digital revolution is changing everything, and how digital is a game changer for every industry and aspect of society from business.

Assuming that conventional wisdom is true, then you would expect the references to digital and the use of the word digital to increase over time. In fact, that’s not true, and references to digital from 2005 to 2015 actually dropped by 50 percent over that decade. The source is none other than Google Trends data, and Google knows a thing or two about counting words and delivering insights.

google-trends-digital-v-sexAs a comparison, during the same time period, references to the word “sex” nearly doubled. So one immediate conclusion is that digital is declining in popularity, and interest in sex continues to grow.

There is always a statistical danger in confusing correlation with causality, so it’s too early to say that interest in digital drops as interest in sex increases. One likely reason for the unexpected statistic is that as digital becomes ever more pervasive, people are less and less likely to use the word digital, as it becomes the new normal. As an analogy, air is everywhere but we don’t spend a lot of time talking about air.

Silly Stuff #3: Spam-tastic Spamalot!

Social media and email provide opportunities for greater levels of personalized communications than have ever been possible before. Audience segmentation, customer profiling, opt-in lists, content engagement algorithms, and test-and-learn strategies are just a few of the ways to help make sure your marketing and communications is targeted and relevant.

So if there are so many resources available, why do so many companies and organizations get it so wrong? They make a half-hearted effort at personalization that ends up being worse than doing nothing at all. Here’s a look at some real-life examples of personalization gone wrong:

1. We have all received emails that start “Dear X” and then go blank, with no name included. That’s an immediate fail, unless of course, your name happens to be X.

2. The line between personal and creepy is a fine one. Here’s an example of a non-personal attempt to be engaging: “Call me a fan girl, but I love what you guys are doing, and would really love to help.” Would you read on?

3. How about: “I think there is a strategic partnership we should explore!” Would you explore?

4. “I hope you are well.” That’s an attempt at personalization gone horribly wrong, but that is used very frequently, as well as: “I hope you are very well” and “I hope you are having a great day.”

5. “I’d like to check if your company would be interested in getting new clients or expanding your business?” No, thank you.

The immediate lesson is obvious: either personalize or don’t. The long-term importance of personalization is to make sure that the irresponsible minority of marketers don’t degrade the channel for the rest of us.

Hope you are well and enjoyed these silly season snippets and see you in Serious September!

*Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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