Online Marketing 101: Identity Economics

ONLINE MARKETING 101-

The marketing industry comes with a myth attached to it. You’re told to focus on your customer as an individual. You are told to know the individual as well as your favorite shoes, profile them, study their thoughts, find out their wants, and match your advertising accordingly. Except – as the latest idea in economics goes – there may be no individual. There is only group. Or to put it in another way: The individual buys according to what the group says. Knowing more about this idea can give you another handle on how to market your wares. And maybe sell them more effectively.

Identity Economics: It’s The Group That Buys Your Products

Our marketing principles come from traditional economics. Reasoning goes that people have their wants and needs. You’ll sell your product if you find out what those wants and needs are and show your targeted client how you can help him better than anyone else.  This way of thinking assumes that the targeted client knows his needs and chooses independently.

Marketing is based on this traditional economic view. Almost every single marketing modality from customer-centric to relationship marketing pivots the customer as an individual.  Personalized marketing says draw up a thorough profile of your desired customer – clothes, breakfast, schools, and so forth – so you know exactly whom you’re reaching.  Social media marketing tries to forge cozy interactions with the client. That’s what surveys are for! They ask the desired client, “Pray pretty please. What do you want and how can I help you achieve it?” Metrics measure whether or not your customer has bought. If so, supply more. If not, repeat the process.

Only the decision-maker may not be the individual. It may be the group. In which case, your marketing may flounder unless you consider that angle.

Identity Affects Your Health, Wealth, And Success

Sixteen years ago, economist and Nobel Prize winner George Akerlof and professor of economics in Duke University Rachel Kranton, launched their theory of identity economics. The model says that our identity affects our health, wealth, and success – and everything in between.

Identity refers to the different groups that we belong to, such as religious, gender, national, class and so on. People identify with different groups at different times.

How can we relate identity economics to marketing?

People buy according to their group because they want to conform. This makes them feel good and gives them some sort of social status. So they eat what their group does, dress as their group does, send their children to the same schools as the group does, ad infinitum. Kranton and Akerlof concluded: If you want to motivate someone don’t look into every nitty-gritty about the person. Scrutinize the norms of the group.

For instance, I run a site that offers hidden jobs to freelancers. Recently, a person tweeted: “Thanks but doesn’t look secure … this site is flooded w/shady gigs…The site isn’t safe for any legit freelancer.” The visitor explained: “Indians don’t pay well/on time.” (Note: 5% of the ads are from companies that carry Indian names).

Ordinarily, I would have have rejected this visitor’s feedback as prejudiced. The theory of Identity Economics made me look beyond her as being an individual and made me consider her opinion as Group. I looked into whether or not she was my typical client. If so, I would have to reluctantly use her feedback as cue to restructure my marketing because I wanted to sell.

This case also made me wary of using my bounce rate as a metric of site success. Marketing analytics urge you to monitor your site’s statistics. But maybe visitors leave because aspects of your site conflict with their social beliefs. Maybe you retain only two or three people but these are the people you want.

Looking at the prospective client as reflecting the opinions of a group rather than the opinions of him or herself give you a different handle on your marketing.

On The Other Hand…

Identity economics has its limitations. Marketing research recently found that advertising backfires when it scrunches the person into a group. Cases include Jif peanut butter that targets mothers by noting that “Choosy moms choose Jif.” or DirecTV that advertises, “If you call yourself a sports fan, you gotta have DirecTV!” or Gamefly.com that urges video gamers, “You call yourself a gamer? You have to have it!” or when Chevrolet asserts that real Americans drive Chevys.

In each of these cases, those who were surveyed protested that they have a mind of their own. They disliked being lumped into a group!

So, social context is an answer, but not the whole. Our self-concept is made up of both a personal identity and a social one and, when marketing, we can profit by considering both.

How Can You Use Identity Economics To Improve Your Marketing?

  1. Target marketing to the group – I work for a solar company that markets itself on price and environmental concerns. Research, however, shows that people put solar panels on their homes when other solar-powered homes are nearby. I adjust my marketing accordingly.
  2. Boost the signal strengthCustomers tend to tend to select products that most clearly broadcast membership in their specific group. Subtly highlight those signals or omit them. For instance, blood donation levels go down when blood donors are paid to give blood. The social identity of giving is core to the motivation and this is the aspect that needs to be highlighted.
  3. Ignore bounce rates – Rather focus on how you can improve your product so that it helps your customers. People are always going to be influenced by their cultures and there’s nothing you can do about that. Focus on the product and keep on marketing. Your clientele will grow.

In short, people buy according to a variety of reasons. Social context is one of them. Knowing how group comes into the buying can open up cost-effective ways of improving your marketing. It is individual as well as group that decides.

Look into both to sell.

 

Cracking the Deep Web: How to Get Steady Customers Fast and Free

Hi Guys, Mika here!

As you know, we’ve been increasing our team to include a few new bloggers varying in expertise. The newest member of our team, Leah Zitter, has a wealth of experience in SEO and the deep web. This week’s article is an introduction to just that. Enjoy! 

visible web

Three years ago, I used the Deep Web to promote my website that offers hidden jobs for freelancers. As far as I know, I was and remain the first person to do so.

I invested three hours a week using Deep Web engines.

Within that first month, I gathered 375 visitors.

What is the Deep Web?

The Deep Web consists of all sites that are hidden from search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, or DogPile. Regular search engines can only retrieve information from pages that are accessible to it or that are large enough to be discovered. But there are many other groups on sites such as Twitter, Behance, Ryze, forums, password-protected business sites, Tumblr, Reddit, or up-and-coming blogs that are inaccessible because they are too small, password-secured, or not registered with search engines.

The science journal Nature notes that Google only indexes 16 percent of the surface Web and misses all of the Deep Web. This means that about 3000 out of 1 web pages are hidden from engines. Think of the ocean and the hiddenness below. The ocean is your worldwide web. Underneath is your deep or invisible web. This is where your clients chat.

I sought tools that could probe this hiddenness so that I could connect with them.

Why I used the Deep Web

Part of the reason I turned to the Deep Web was because I was looking for other ways to conduct free surveys. I also wanted to probe my targeted person’s subconscious needs. I wanted to connect with them in as real a way as I could and show them I could help them. For that to occur, writing articles was not enough. I wanted to talk with them; to capture their words for help so that I could refer them to my service. Along the way I sought their opinion. The engines that probe the deep web helped me do this. They helped me make some of my posts viral.

I collected 78 FB followers from zero in 2 months and gathered references from those who tweeted their thanks.

Method

I spent 8 months tracking down uncommon engines that dated since 2000. I investigated those that survived. Engines dip in and out of existence regularly, so, for instance, I wrote a few articles on MetaSearch.org only to have that amazing search engine die within months of those articles  being published.

I also read books on the deep web such as The invisible Web: uncovering information sources search engines can’t see by Chris Sherman and kept up-to-date with events on the Deep Web via researchbuzz.me.

Thirdly, I probed and used some of the methods of certain HR recruiters who had devised their own systems for spooning out hidden names.

Most important, I am a research scientist with an advanced degree in logic and formal training in Search Engine Marking. I used that training to fiddle with different keywords and algorithms running some for a few months before adding or replacing with others to see which terms, posts and sites were most popular and effective.

Here are the results.

Deep Web Engines: Top 3 for advertising and marketing on forums and groups

Boardreader – You’ll want to use the ‘Advanced Search’ to help you make the most of this site. Few engines need as exact keywords as this does. Surprisingly, I found the Imbd option helpful.

Omgili –‘Oh My Gosh I Like It’ really does help you find communities, message boards, and discussion threads on any topic. Type in your key words (I used ‘looking for freelance _’) and access Discussion Posts or Blog Posts. You may find News Articles helpful.

Webring – Find people and groups who share your interest. It is small (because its relatively new) but its members are more earnest than on FaceBook and you can engage with them at greater length than you can on Twitter.

Deep Web Engines: Top 3 for advertising and marketing on social media

Socialbearing.com – This engine helps you drill Twitter. It is excellent for tracking real-time conversations.

Twazzup.com – This is a new all-in-one Twitter search engine. Twitter has other search engines that you can use such as OneRiot and Louis Gray, but the helpful thing about Twazzup is that you can type in whatever interests you and Twitter returns all – noise and all.

Smashfuse.com – Terrific. Smashfuse travels FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Vimeo, Tumblr, and Flickr among others. It is also fast. Minuses: It lacks advanced options. (I add date or country to the keyword or I simply use general keywords. The latter option is probably best).

Deep Web Engines: Top 2 for advertising and marketing on blogs

Blogsearchengine.org – This engine swims through stumbleupon and delicious. Minus: It lacks advanced options.

MeltwaterIceRocket.com – This is one of the most powerful blog search engines. It searches blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and sites on the worldwide web. I  use the advanced search options to type in certain words such as ‘ paying submissions’, the date (‘today only’) and tag – which searches for words in the post. Example [tag: writer telecommutes].

Deep Web Engines: Top 3 for getting eyeball-boggling content

Dotmos.com – It helps you dig news in your field that you may less likely see on the common search engines. I use it for real-time conversation and for creating content.

GigablastGigablast is an open source engine. You’ll find its advanced search options below the blue border of its title. I sometimes also use ‘Ixquick’.

Tiptop insight engine – This engine captures news. If you’re savvy with your keywords, it can help you capture real-time conversations. The engine needs permission from Twitter to grant you access but it digs up from pages that are well beyond Twitter.

Interesting, right? Feel free to reach out in the on twitter, via email, or in the comments below with any questions, comments, or if you need help implementing. We look forward to hearing from you!