Julie Meredith, Dash Hudson: Why video and authentic content are vital

Julie Meredith, VP of marketing at Dash Hudson.

Julie Meredith, Dash Hudson: Why video and authentic content are vital Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

Could you tell us a little bit about Dash Hudson and what makes it unique?

Dash Hudson was founded back in 2015 with the mission of helping the world’s most important companies deepen engagement with their consumers through photos and videos. Our goal is to close the loop on all key visual marketing channels for brands, by focusing on the performance of photos and videos. Our software helps brands to choose the right image, inspire their audience to action, and measure the results so they can ultimately make better business decisions.

We are fortunate to work with global brands such as Zalando, Estee Lauder and Harrods, and provide them with the tools that enable them to increase engagement and drive ROI by analysing trends and predicting the performance of photos and videos across their marketing channels. We provide actionable insights to our customers, ranging from influencer ROI measurement to audience conversion.

Dash Hudson’s ‘Vision’ feature is one of the tools that distinguishes us. Our proprietary technology combines the power of computer vision and artificial intelligence to support strategic and creative marketing decisions throughout the customer lifecycle. Vision is an ever-learning AI technology that analyzes a brand’s library of owned, earned, and paid content to build a brand specific algorithm, and identify top-performing content and recommendations on which photos and videos to use. 

As a company, we take great pride in providing our customers with unrivalled service, which I believe sets us apart. We know the world of social media can be unpredictable and difficult to navigate at times. So it is critical that we give our customers the tools they need to navigate the landscape and make data-backed decisions in order to make sure they’re creating the best possible content for their brand.

How would you describe the current brand marketing landscape and how do you see it developing?

The brand marketing landscape is in the midst of a large-scale transition. The global pandemic significantly increased social media consumption and, paired with the emergence of new channels like TikTok, shifted the entire digital ecosystem from a social-led environment to a content-first approach. One of the most notable changes marketers are facing today is the explosive growth of video on social media.

Video, once considered a costly endeavor reserved for tentpole and marquee campaigns, is quickly becoming the primary means by which consumers – particularly those in younger generations – express themselves, communicate, and even make purchasing decisions. An Instagram study found that 50% of consumers have visited a website to buy a product or service after seeing it in an Instagram Story. This signals a significant shift, and at the heart of this shift is short-form video. 

It is no longer possible to ignore the widespread popularity of this format, which has taken the world by storm and added new layers of complexity and creativity to social media strategy. Looking ahead, I see this trend continuing to grow as more and more brands make short-form video a priority. As a result, many businesses will need to solidify their brand video strategies in the coming year.

How do you think the pandemic has impacted the digital ecosystem?

With an average +23% growth of monthly active users among social media platforms worldwide, it’s undeniable that the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on consumption, and brands have had to quickly shift their focus to digital channels in order to engage with consumers online.

In the absence of physical touchpoints, consumers’ shopping habits shifted in response to the pandemic, with social media serving as the new storefront for brands. Smartphones accounted for 75.8% of online retail sales in the United States and Europe in 2020 alone, and Forrester expects smartphone online retail sales to reach $2 trillion by 2024 – a significant change! This also influenced advertising because more people are spending more time on mobile devices, which means they are engaging with more online ads. According to one study, during the pandemic, online ad engagement increased by 15%.

For many brands, the pandemic has enabled them to integrate social e-commerce and in-store experiences to deepen customer relationships. The savviest social teams and retail teams have in some cases coordinated efforts to ensure that products going viral on social media are also available in-store – providing consistent experiences to customers. Because of the success of social media e-commerce strategies, other brands have opened physical stores for the first time, recognising that people are enjoying getting back out in the world after spending time online, and are now bringing their social media habits with them.

To what extent do you think marketing strategies should prioritise content?

Content is a superpower that brands have to cultivate and harness. There are no shortages of brands that can create content and distribute it on several channels – but the key to success lies in creating quality, relevant and consistent content that will resonate with a brand’s unique audience.

Nowadays, social media pages are frequently the first place a person visits during the customer journey. In fact, 72% of social media users state that they discover new products on social media. With this in mind, brands should ensure that the content on their digital shelf will engage their target audience in order to make an impact and convert them into customers.

Ultimately, content bridges the gap between what you offer as a brand (your products and services) and what customers are looking for. Instead of pushing products with little purpose, it allows you to tell a story, entertain, and educate your audience. It should not be viewed as merely another marketing activity, but rather as a long-term business strategy. Gartner recently stated that content marketing will cease to exist as a term within the next ten years since all marketing will be powered by content – emphasising the importance of prioritising it as a strategy.

How important do you think it is to create authentic content?

Authentic content can have a variety of positive effects on a brand’s marketing strategy, such as increasing attention, building trust, and creating loyal consumer relationships.

Let’s start with the point about attention. We live in a time when social media feeds are extremely crowded, and consumers are bombarded with an infinite number of options and brands to choose from. Having discussed the significance of relevant content in capturing an audience’s attention, it is also critical to note that content must be authentic in order to stand out. 

When it comes to building trust, consumers can tell if brands are not being transparent for the right reasons. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, but the most effective method would be to provide direct value to the audience and prioritise this over promotion.

Overall, creating authentic content is no longer an option, but rather a necessity due to rising consumer demand. They want to feel like they are part of a community, and that the brands with which they interact are both transparent and value-sharing. Whether it’s the influencers a brand chooses to work with, the way a brand engages with fans online, or the causes a brand chooses to support, authenticity should be at the forefront of every piece of content and branded interaction.

What advice would you give to brands that are striving to create authentic content?

I previously discussed how authentic content can help to increase attention, build trust, and create loyal consumer relationships. Being aware of consumer trends, developing a voice that resonates with them and reflects your own brand values, and giving your content personality can all assist you in accomplishing this. 

Understanding your target audience is the first step. If your main demographic is actively engaging with your content and converting into buyers, you’re on the right track. Brands have to be able to segment and measure their content pillars in order to fully understand which styles of content achieve the goal of engaging and retaining their audience. Keeping an eye on metrics like engagement rate and reach will allow them to determine whether their content is being seen and eliciting a positive response. 

Audience growth and engagement can follow naturally if a brand keeps its core values at the heart of all digital brand touchpoints and content.

How can brands use content to form lasting customer relationships with consumers?

Establishing emotional connections can truly have a positive impact on a brand. One way to achieve this is by creating content that aims to add value to the audience.

People want to know that their opinions are being heard and that their questions are being addressed. Brands can create content that adds value and goes beyond selling a product by keeping their finger on the pulse of trends and directly engaging with consumers. If they believe they are being heard and the content is beneficial to them, they should form a bond and return frequently over time.

Furthermore, it is critical to tell a brand’s story in a way that will resonate with customers on a value level. Allow them to understand the organisation’s mission and the role they can play in that journey. Consumers are looking for brands with a purpose, which can range from social responsibilities or environmental commitments to reinventing an industry.

Creating lasting relationships can also be achieved by participating in discussions in the comment sections of posts, repurposing high-quality user-generated content, or simply listening to what your audience wants to see in terms of both content and brand offerings. 

TikTok, Reels, and Instagram Stories, Live and IGTV offer video formats that allow users to see an unfiltered version of your brand. By creating a brand world that is engaging, informative, and entertaining for consumers, you are fostering long-term brand loyalty.

How can brands best measure content marketing performance and ROI?

Historically marketers have found it really difficult to measure and monetise content. But things have changed.

Today’s top brands are marrying their content strategy with data-driven insights. Brands need to have data at each step of the creative process, from storyboarding, to shooting the content, to publishing and measuring performance in the form of real-time insights and visual AI. Dash Hudson is proud to offer brands a one-stop solution that supports social and digital marketing initiatives in a time where creative insights are a necessity. 

As previously noted, Dash Hudson’s ‘Vision’ feature is a lot like having your target audience in the room with you. By embracing new technology, our customers have been able to take a data-driven approach to their creative and drive performance across channels. They can now engage their audience more effectively by serving them more of what they enjoy.

In addition, our Dashboards and Reporting tools provide brands with the context needed to understand content performance and audience preferences at a glance while customisable reports eliminate the need for manual calculations. 

Using a software like Dash Hudson removes the guesswork when it comes to content decisions and provides you with the data you need at your fingertips, saving marketing teams valuable time and resources.

What plans does Dash Hudson have for 2022?

​​In the world of brand marketing, we understand that combining creativity and insights is the way of the future. We strive to enable our customers to make data-driven decisions easier every day, and we will continue doing so in 2022.

It is important for us to continue working closely with our customers to help them to uncover their marketing pain points to ultimately help them solve their problems and achieve their goals. That is pretty much how Dash Hudson has evolved over the years and catered to our customers’, and the markets’ growing needs. We listen, we observe, we learn and we grow.

As the current marketing landscape leans heavily into video and community engagement, we will continue to build solutions that support the top brands’ data-needs across these areas. We’ve talked about how quickly the digital landscape shifts and changes throughout this interview, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. So 2022 will be another year of expansion and innovation, and Dash Hudson will be working behind the scenes to intelligently inform our customers’ strategies with relevant data, while always being available to support them.

You can hear more from Dash Hudson when the company’s director of international growth, Elise Ngobi, gives a presentation at DMWF Europe. Her talk, titled The Future of Digital Marketing: Merging Creative & Insights, will take place at 12.40pm CET on November 30 as part of the conference’s Influencer & Social Media Marketing track.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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