merkle-report:-personalization-gains-wide-adoption,-but-marketers-can-do-better

Performance marketing agency Merkle has released the latest edition of its quarterly report, the Q4 2019 Customer Engagement Report (download required). The report addresses results from a Merkle survey of over 200 marketers from North American brands spanning across industries including retail, high-tech, financial, travel, media and entertainment, health and nonprofit.

The Q4 report explores the various data types marketers use to enable personalization, along with the emerging tools and tactics that drive ongoing marketing improvements. The survey found that while there is broad adoption of personalization across marketing organizations, there is plenty of room for growth.

Why we should care

The survey discovered that 86% of marketers have the budget, solutions and infrastructure in place to drive personalized customer experience across digital channels. Despite having all the right tools, respondents indicated that the use of individual data sources for personalization is low. According to Merkle, 70% of respondents reported that third-party customer demographics are used in email, 40% in digital media, and less than 30% on website.

Source: Merkle’s Q4 2019 Customer Engagement Report

Merkle also analyzed loyalty program tactics used by marketers. The study found that despite respondents indicating an increase in investments in loyalty platforms and emerging technologies, spend on loyalty program management, email marketing and operational resources have stayed the same or decreased. 81% of survey respondents reported they have a defined loyalty program in place.

Additionally, Merkle identified a gap between high-level reporting on data use and available and the use of specific data sources for loyalty programs. 62% of respondents indicated they have loyalty programs that are fully integrated with their CRM data, but are using less of the available data in loyalty efforts compared to wider marketing initiatives; 38% indicate using third-party demographic data to personalize loyalty programs compared to 86% in overall marketing efforts.

More on the news:

  • 60% of respondents reported that a majority of their revenue was driven by data-based triggers but only 28% of messaging is based on one-to-one behavior triggers.
  • Nearly 90% of marketers use personalization on at least one channel, but most have not adopted advanced tactics.


About The Author

Jennifer Videtta Cannon serves as Third Door Media’s Senior Editor, covering topics from email marketing and analytics to CRM and project management. With over a decade of organizational digital marketing experience, she has overseen digital marketing operations for NHL franchises and held roles at tech companies including Salesforce, advising enterprise marketers on maximizing their martech capabilities. Jennifer formerly organized the Inbound Marketing Summit and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing Analytics from MIT Sloan School of Management.



icon-designer-report-q4-2019


Let’s first take a look at what are the most popular keywords that customers have been using when searching for icons on Iconfinder. The table below lists these keywords in order of popularity, from most searched to least.

The column called Supply-Demand ratio shows how competitive the Iconfinder market for that keyword is:

  • A ratio lower than 1 means that there is space for more icons.
  • A ratio higher than 1 means that the market is very competitive — there are more icons than searches for that keyword, so sales are not guaranteed.

The last column shows whether the searches for that keyword have been increasing or decreasing as compared to the same period last year.

Keywords ordered by the number of searches, from most searches to least (Dates: Jan 1, 2019 to Sep 15, 2019). Data can be accessed here.

It is not surprising to see keywords such as “arrow”, “phone”, “download”, “search” or “user” ranking as the most searched in 2019 so far. These are the basis of UIs and websites and most customers will be looking for these. They are a good place to start if you are new at icon design.

As an icon designer, you are probably asking what are the icons that customers buy together. This is useful information when deciding what icons to include in the same set or the same icon family. To answer this question, we looked at what keywords customers search for successively.

For example, a typical case is to search for “facebook” and then right afterward search for “twitter”. Depending on how many times this exact combination of searches happened, we can intuit how likely it is for a customer to buy the two icons together. Another example of this kind could be a search for “arrow up”, followed by a new search for “arrow down”.

The table below lists the keyword combinations used to search on Iconfinder, from most to least popular. The first keyword is the one that the customer used in the first search. The second keyword is the one the customer used in the second search, immediately after the first one. Most cases are complementary keywords.

Subsequent keywords used in searches on Iconfinder (Dates: Jan 1, 2019 to Sep 15, 2019). Full data can be accessed here.

This list should be taken with caution, however, as some examples could be interpreted differently. Sometimes, the customer might make a typo and then search for the correct word in the second search. For example, a typo such as “cofee” in the first search would be followed by a second search with the correct spelling of the word: “coffee”.

Synonym keywords — a hint for better tagging

Another very important scenario is when customers cannot find what they are looking for with the first keyword and then try with a second one. This corresponds to words that are synonyms. For example, if you cannot find the right icon using the keyword “remove”, you might try using the word “delete” instead. These are important clues for tagging — they should help you come up with better tags.

Knowing that there were 791 times when people searched for “remove” and then, immediately after, searched for “delete” tells you that those are two very important tags to add to your relevant icons. This way, you help the customers find your icons more easily.

If you need help finding synonyms when tagging, a good idea is to use an external tool such as this one: https://www.powerthesaurus.org/. When uploading icons to Iconfinder, our tagging tool also suggests other tags based on what you enter. Note that the recommended number of tags is between 4 and 7 per icon. Read Iconfinder’s guidelines for tagging.

The process of tagging

Tagging icons is the most important thing that you as a designer can do for your business. It should be an integral part of your design process. It is equally important to get the tags right as it is to create good quality icons.

After you have decided on what the right tags are — hopefully also with the help of our tips above — you need to do tagging in a systematic manner. Read about this in our tutorial How to use artboards export to auto-tag icons.

We looked at what keywords gain popularity in Q4 by looking at the searches in October, November, and December last year. We compared those to the previous 3 months and selected only the keywords that had a large increase in searches.

We noticed mostly searches related to the main festivities during fall and winter: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Diwali. The chart below shows at which time of the year the searches for each type of keyword reach a peak. For a complete list of keywords and their increase in popularity, check the Seasonal trends for keywords in Q4.

Searches per week and month for different keywords in Q4 2018.

Searches per week and month for different keywords in Q4 2018.

Searches per week and month for different keywords in Q4 2018.

Here are some of the seasonal sets that we consider as high quality, which can hopefully inspire you.

Left: Halloween set in Outline style / Right: Halloween set in Glyph style

Autumn set in Flat style

Left: Autumn set in Filled Outline style / Right: Halloween set in Flat style

Winter set in Filled Outline style

For more ideas on what icons to create and when keep an eye on Google Trends. It is a good source of popular topics that people are presently searching for online and a good indicator of what customers are searching for on Iconfinder too.

Here are the campaigns we plan to run in Q4, for which we often promote icons that match the theme of the campaign. We recommend designers to upload the themed icons before the campaign begins, in order to have a chance to be featured.

Marketing campaigns planned for Q4 2019

Here is an example of the Halloween campaign (which is running until the end of October) where we offer discounts on the Iconfider Pro plans. For this campaign, we featured beautifully-drawn Halloween icon sets.

Example of our Halloween campaign running in October 2019

The list below shows the category-style combinations in order of sales, from most sales to least. The best-sellers are Business & Finance in outline, glyph, and flat styles, followed by Avatars & Smileys in flat style, and UI in outline style.

You should pay attention to the last column (Supply-Demand ratio), which shows how saturated the market is in each category-style pair.

  • A ratio lower than 1 means that there is space for more icons.
  • A ratio higher than 1 means that the market is very competitive — there are more icons than searches for that keyword, so sales are not guaranteed.

Note that these category-style pairs are very competitive, so it is important to try to stand out from the crowd and differentiate yourself.

Category-style pairs ordered by sales, from most sales to least (Dates for demand: Jan 1, 2019 to Sep 15, 2019; Date for supply: Sep 15, 2019). Full data can be accessed here.

To make this list easier to grasp, we’ve added a few examples of sets that correspond to the category-style pairs from the top of the list.

Example of Business & finance sets in Outline style (left) and in Glyph style (right)

Example of a Business & finance set in Flat style (left) / Avatar set in Flat style (right)

Example of a UI set in Outline style (left) / Business & finance set in Filled Outline style (right)

From the list above, we have selected only those category-style combinations that offer opportunities to add more icons. These are the ones with a supply-demand ratio lower than 1, which means that they sell more icons than the total number of icons available on Iconfinder.

Pay attention, however, to the number of icons sold in each category-style pair. These are not among the top seller ones, which means that you cannot expect that many sales. Yet, creating icons for these is a good idea because there is less competition.

Category-style pairs with a Supply-Demand ratio lower than 1. (Dates for demand: Jan 1, 2019 to Sep 15, 2019; Date for supply: Sep 15, 2019). Full data can be accessed here.

To illustrate what the list means, we are adding a few examples of good sets for the first few category-style pairs.

Example of a Network & Communications set in Smooth style (left) / Avatars & smileys set in Smooth style (right)

Example of a Transportation set in Smooth style (left) / Computer & Hardware set in Smooth style (right)

Here we are listing a few examples of what we consider as bad practices when it comes to designing icons. We take the point of view of the customer by thinking in terms of the usability of the icon.

Directly-converted glyphs

Over the last few months, we have noticed an increase in the popularity of a certain style of glyph icons. It is the practice of creating an outline icon and then inverting it so that it looks like a glyph.

This is an example of what we mean by glyph icons that have been directly converted from their outline versions:

Icon set in directly-converted glyph style

As you can see in the example above, the icons become very difficult to recognize, especially in small sizes. Icons are meant to be used in small sizes, so simply creating a style conversion, without reinterpreting the icons, makes them lose their entire functionality.

Let’s look at a few examples together.

Bad glyph icons (directly-converted)

In all these examples, the designer made a direct style conversion, mostly because it only takes a second to do. However, the icons do not look good and Iconfinder does not accept them anymore.

When designing a glyph icon, the icon needs to be rethought based on the style limitations, making sure that they are easy to understand. Glyph icons are characterized by the use of negative space.

Good glyph icons

In the examples below, the icons are not simply converted directly to glyph. Instead, the designer has paid attention that the concept that the icon represents is still very clear.

Gradients in outline icons

We also noticed a trend of gradients in outline icons. In general, using colors in outline icons needs to be very well thought out. Colors need to play a role in the icon, like highlighting the important parts of the icon itself.

You might think that adding a gradient to an outline icon makes it cool and appealing. In reality, customers will have more trouble if they want to change the color of the icon, as gradients are not so easy to manage, especially for customers with no graphic design knowledge.

Outline icons with gradient effect — not recommended

In the example below, using a 3-color gradient is definitely not going to make the icons more appealing. Instead, the icons lose their usability, as very few or no customers will want to buy them. Usually, customers look for icons that fit a certain color scheme (their brand’s colors, for instance) and these icons would bring more work for the customers when trying to change the colors.

Outline icons with gradient effect — not recommended

Remember to always keep the customer in mind when designing icons. We recommend staying away from bad practices — such as directly-converted glyphs and gradients in outline icons — that can ultimately hurt sales.

We hope this report will help you identify the opportunities in the icon market and will inspire you to create beautiful icons.


This report is part of a series that are released every quarter. It crunches data on supply and demand on the Iconfinder marketplace, hoping to lead designers to create the right icons.

Drop us a message at support@iconfinder.com if you have any questions or feedback.

Are you interested in becoming a contributor on Iconfinder? This is the place to start: How to sell icons on Iconfinder

report:-facebook-news-feed-getting-60%-of-total-ad-spend-across-facebook,-instagram
Instagram ad spend was booming compared to ad spend on Facebook. Not only did Instagram outshine its parent platform on ad spend, Facebook’s daily active user growth rate remained flat during the second quarter of this year — but neither of these data points appear to be impacting Facebook’s standing as the ad giant among social platforms.

For marketers charged with delivering high performing CTRs — while keeping CPMs and CPCs in check — Socialbakers data confirms Facebook continues to prove itself, delivering strong and sturdy ad results.



About The Author

report:-there’s-almost-no-correlation-between-online-and-offline-consumer-conversations

Online and offline consumer conversations are largely separate. That’s the conclusion of a large, recent study from Engagement Labs, which affirms earlier data and analysis by the company, as well as others.

Analysis of conversations about 500 brands. Engagement Labs performed what it describes as “a comprehensive analysis, lining up the week-to-week trends for the online and offline conversation trends” of 500 brands across multiple product categories. The company examined “conversation volume, sentiment, brand sharing (talking about and sharing brand marketing), and influence (connecting with everyday influencers).”

Engagement Labs uses a mix of surveys and online social media monitoring to gauge consumer sentiment and actions. It determined that across these multiple metrics there was not “a meaningful correlation between online and offline discussions for brands.” The top-level takeaways for marketers and brands are the following:

  • Brands can’t rely on “social media listening” as a proxy for broader consumer sentiment or to evaluate the complete impact of any decision or campaign
  • Online and offline conversations need to be measured and managed separately
  • Brands need to clearly understand the differences between these distinct audiences
ordered the forced removal of an uncooperative passenger from one of its planes in 2017 in a highly publicized incident. That drove negative sentiment universally. However, recovery of the brand occurred at different rates online and off.

The general proposition here is that “monitoring social media cannot reveal what is happening in terms of offline conversations.” This may sound counter-intuitive because “everyone’s online except people over 65, right?” But this is what Engagement Labs’ data show. It’s also what location intelligence company Gravy has shown in other contexts.

Gillette and Herbal Essences prove the rule. There are multiple examples cited in the report of divergence or discrepancies between online and offline sentiment. For example, Herbal Essences received considerable negative social media attention in 2018 for being a Fox News advertiser. However “the anti-Fox News campaign hardly registered in the offline conversations.” The company also points out that ” in May 2018, a sponsorship of ABC’s coverage of the Royal Wedding . . . coincided with a drop in offline sentiment that did not occur online.”

Another high-profile example is Gillette’s 2019 “toxic masculinity” campaign, which drove a roughly 4000% increase in online mentions according to Engagement Labs. A large percentage of those were highly negative or critical. However, “real-world conversations about Gillette were decidedly different and did not experience a similar negative reaction,” although they increased in volume.

What to do about it. When brands take political stands or controversial positions, as Gillette did or as Nike has, they must be thoughtful about the potential impact on their various audience segments. Brands must also recognize that online sentiment may be more extreme than in “the real world.”

Sometimes a controversy that flares online will flame out quickly and have virtually no impact offline. Conversely, in some cases, offline reaction (positive or negative) won’t be mirrored online. Marketers should, therefore, treat online and offline word-of-mouth separately, with distinct tactics and monitoring tools for both sets of audiences.

As Engagement Labs has previously said, “Success in one ecosystem does not
translate automatically into the other. Only a marketer prepared with a good
map, a smart strategy, and the right gear can expect to thrive in both the online
and the offline ecosystems.”



About The Author

Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.




report:-email-engagement-benefits-from-less-send-frequency,-subject-line-keywords

Email marketing provider, GetResponse, has released its latest global email marketing benchmarks report, which analyzed over four billion email marketing campaigns sent from 126 countries and spanning 19 industries. GetResponse analyzed emails sent between from January through June 2019.

Why we should care

The report findings detail the effectiveness of different email marketing strategies and campaigns and shares unique insights from email marketers across different industries. Among the findings, subject lines, email volume and time-sensitive offers are among the most effective approaches to engaging email marketing.

Subject lines need to express value. According to the report, the three most effective words also focus on value. “Newsletter,” “PDF,” and “ebook” ranked as the top three keywords for subject lines. The analysis revealed that the average click-to-open-rate for emails including the word “newsletter” in their subject line was 31.43%, including PDF was 30.31% and ebook was 27.84%. We can infer from these results that customers are becoming increasingly open to content that drives them down the marketing funnel.

Fewer emails drive higher engagements. Email marketers who send one newsletter per week see the highest campaign results. According to the report the highest open rates (33.4%), click-through (4.65%) and click-to-open rates (13.91%). Triggered emails, like confirmation emails and welcome emails that contain link to download content had an 88.7% open rate.

Urgency and time-sensitive offers are most effective within the first hour. Time-sensitive promotions and flash sales had open rates of 19% within the first hour of the email landing in the recipients’ inboxes.

“Email continues to be the foundation of an integrated marketing campaign because it provides a low-cost, high ROI channel to engage subscribers that are already primed to hear from you,” said Ola Korczynska, marketing director, GetResponse. “While our latest benchmark report shows what’s currently working in email marketing, it also provides insight into the actions that attract, engage and convert customers using a variety of marketing channels including content, video and landing pages, as well as preferences and customer behaviors around the globe.”

More about the Managed Inbox

More on the news:

  • With GDPR in full affect, more marketers are implementing double-opt ins which drive stronger results. Double opt-ins also serve as a strong security measure for preventing spam traps or sending bad emails to your lists.
  • The report analyzed unique values for email open, click and unsubscribes to ensure that each customer action was only counted once.


About The Author

report:-instagram-story-ad-share-doubles-while-overall-ad-growth-levels-out
four times the rate of ad spend growth than Facebook. This trend appears to be leveling out, according to Kenshoo’s quarterly trends report for the second quarter of 2019. The ad management platform reports Instagram ad growth is “now roughly at parity” with Facebook ad growth.

What’s remarkable from Kenshoo’s findings is that advertisers’ share of spend on Instagram Story ads doubled year-over-year from 9% to 18% in the second quarter of 2019.

“The hypervisual format [Story Ads] grew 186% in spending compared to the same quarter last year, while Instagram Feed ad spending slowed to just 21%, slower than Facebook News Feed,” writes Kenshoo in its report.

Are default placement selections driving Story ad adoption? For marketers wanting to fine-tune their Instagram social ad spend, it’s worth noting when a specific ad format experiences exponential growth. But, the question is whether or not Instagram Story ad growth is a result of the ad unit’s performance or Facebook’s own prodding to get more advertisers to run Story ad campaigns.

“I think that a big part of this lift in spend is people placing ads in Instagram Stories without knowing it, i.e. running automatic placements,” said Jessica Budde, a digital marketer at digital marketing agency Cypress North, “In chatting with several Facebook reps about how to improve campaigns in recent months, I’ve been told on several occasions that letting campaigns run with automatic placements is the best way for Facebook to learn about your audience and get you the best results.”

Budde said she has never done that for any of her clients, but believes a lot of advertisers may be following that advice from Facebook, thus driving up the number of Instagram Story ad placements. Budde’s agency has also noticed Facebook pushing Story ads when an advertiser deselects it as a placement option.

“After creating a video ad, an auto-created story pops up already cropped to vertical dimensions along with a message that notes how to go back and turn Instagram or Facebook Stories on as a placement to use that creative,” said Budde.

More visibility into Stories may be impacting Story ad growth. Akvile DeFazio, president of social media agency AKvertise, said Instagram announced earlier this summer it was planning to show more ads on the platform, in Stories, in particular.

“As a user and an advertiser, I can certainly attest to that, as I’ve seen more and have noticed impression share increasing in most of our client accounts,” said DeFazio, “With increased visibility, we’ve had more clients create Stories-specific content, which has helped increase CTRs and overall conversions for some e-commerce clients.”

She reports her agency has seen success when intentionally placing ads in Instagram stories (versus running automatic placement campaigns).

“While using automatic placements is common among advertisers and is efficient, I can only speak for certain about our strategies as we are intentionally planning Stories campaigns with our clients to give them the best chance for success,” said DeFazio. “If we’re in a pinch and need to run promotions, then we allow automatic placements to do their job.”

Why we should care. Instagram Story ads have been around for more than two years now, but this current trend shows their popularity is quickly growing. If you’re not testing Story ads yet, they may be worth another look depending on your campaign objectives and resources to create ads tailored to the format.



About The Author

report:-amazon-prime-day-isn’t-just-for-prime-members-any-more

Amazon’s days of owning the biggest shopping day(s) of the summer may be numbered. Large retailers, companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, experienced a 64% increase in sales during the first day Prime Day this year, compared to their average Monday sales, according to Adobe. That’s up from last year when the same retailers saw a 54% lift in sales.

“The first day of Prime Day saw a substantial increase in online spending the U.S., suggesting that Amazon is no longer the sole winner of the summer shopping holiday,” says Adobe.

Sales lisfts for small retailers

Adobe reports small, niche retailers are also benefiting from Amazon’s Prime Day. Businesses with less than $5 million in annual revenue saw a 30% increase in online sales during the first day of Prime Day 2019.

Overall, retailers outside of Amazon experienced an increase in web traffic to their sites during the first 24 hours of Prime Day, accounting for 66% of revenue lift.

Email driving revenue

Email marketing efforts delivered big for brands on Prime Day, according to Adobe: “Brands that delivered excellent email experiences saw a 50% lift in revenue. In comparison, those that lacked a good email strategy saw only a 17% lift.”

Adobe said that, overall, email campaigns accounted for a 7.6% higher share of revenue.

Amazon’s results so far

Amazon reported Monday’s Prime Day was the “biggest 24-hour sales day” in the company’s history. This is the first time Amazon extended Prime Day to two days, so there is still another day to go.

“Prime Day is off to a tremendous start for Marlowe with sales up 2,000% over Prime Day last year. Our Pomade – launched yesterday – is the fastest growing product we’ve ever had,” said a representative from Marlowe, an Amazon seller offering a line of men’s facial and hair products. Sweet Water Décor, another SMB on Amazon, reported a 255% lift in sales during the first day of Prime Day.

Why we should care

Adobe’s data shows that Monday’s Prime Day represented the third time e-commerce spending exceeded $2 billion in sales outside of the holiday season. Labor Day 2018 and Memorial Day 2019 were the other days that passed $2 billion. Prime Day is also now considered the kick-off to back to school shopping season according to many in the industry.

Many online retailers find themselves competing with Amazon year round, but the company’s summer shopping extravaganza has proven to be a boon for savvy advertisers who have figured out how to take advantage of Prime Day promotions.

A survey from Adlucent showed 68% of online shoppers plan to comparison shop outside of Amazon on Prime day — giving retailers an opportunity to pull consumers away from Prime Day sales.



About The Author