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June 24, 2019

China’s Omni-channel Marketing Boom

Why is Omni-channel marketing so important? 

Omni-channel marketing provides a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. This allows customers to engage with a company in a physical store, a website, mobile app or social media.

With more than 600 million internet users and more than $US899 billion in online spending, China is the world’s biggest online shopping market and one of the most digitised countries. As the e-commerce market continues its meteoric rise, it’s now more important than ever for businesses to implement omni-channel marketing strategies that deliver a consistent experience across online and offline platforms.

Whether it’s insurance or luxury brands, the omni-channel marketing experience is essential for businesses looking to thrive in China.

A look at the e-commerce landscape in China today

report by EY found that in 2010 only 23 per cent of China’s urban population shopped online. Last year, China’s consumers accounted for 42.8 per cent of the world’s e-commerce sales and this is projected to rise to nearly 60 per cent in 2020 – almost triple what it was a decade prior.

The increase in smartphones in China has contributed to this growth in e-commerce. The same EY report found that in 2014, there were more than 780 million active smartphone users across the nation, and around 25 per cent of customers made purchases through their mobile phone on a weekly basis. Even in rural areas, which have less than 20 per cent internet penetration, more than 60 per cent of consumers are e-commerce users.

Tips on creating a successful omni-channel marketing strategy

Given the prominence of e-commerce in China, it’s essential to have a strategy in place that creates a seamless experience across third-party websites, your own website and any bricks-and-mortar stores you may have.

If you want to implement an omni-channel marketing strategy for your business in China, here are a few tips to help it thrive.

1. Be on third-party websites, but do it well.

China’s top 10 favourite websites are all e-commerce sites – including TMall, JD, 51Buy and Amazon China. In order to reach the maximum number of consumers, it’s important to be on third-party websites. To protect your own brand identity and image, it’s vital to collaborate with third-party providers to make sure your brand’s merchandising, pricing and product descriptions are consistent with your other sales channels.

2. Ensure a consistent customer service experience.

As customers access your business through multiple touchpoints, it’s essential that their experience is the same no matter where they go. Whether a customer orders from TMall, receives their product from a third-party delivery company or complains over the phone, it’s imperative they receive the same level of service to avoid conflicting experiences with your brand. To do this, identify the key touchpoints with customers in your business, and focus on creating processes and controls to ensure these experiences are up to your business’s standard. It doesn’t hurt to try a mystery shopper either, to help you identify any holes.

3. Focus on the data.

Consumers behave differently on third-party websites than they do in stores, over the phone and at an online store. In order to ensure you’re getting the most out of your different sales channels, dive into your data to see which channels are performing best and where further investigation or improvement needs to be made. Key insights to look for include abandoned shopping carts on your own website versus on third-party websites, which products are popular on different channels, satisfaction rates and exchanges or returns on third-party sites versus your own.

Ultimately, China’s growing e-commerce market holds an incredible amount of promise for local and global businesses.
With the right omni-channel strategy and attention to market innovations, businesses stand the best chance of capitalising on the booming online shopping industry.
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Another year draws to a close and 2018 fast approaches, but it's business as usual at Isentia offices across the globe. Mediaportal is now available in Korea and Taiwan, and Asia Pacific continues to be a highlight for Isentia’s Media and Intelligence business.

We spoke with David Liu, Chief Executive, Asia, and Sean Smith, Chief Executive Media & Intelligence, to get their insights on how Isentia will continue their expansion into Asia.
Isentia's growth in Asia Pacific has been positive for the business for some time. With the recent launch of Mediaportal in Korea and the addition of Taiwan to the portfolio, can you share your thoughts on the journey in Asia so far?

David: From my point of view, if any company wants to launch in a new country, the key is a flagship brand, or product. What we would like to see is Isentia moving from more than just a company name but to a strong and recognisable brand. The exciting aspect about our future in Asia now is that we have a product that can really help us to build our presence in the market. The launch of Mediaportal in Korea and Taiwan really marks the beginning of a new chapter in the launch of Isentia in Asia.

Mediaportal is a very powerful tool that provides a lot of clarity to our clients on what our capabilities are. Anybody can say ‘we monitor media’ but with Mediaportal, what we can do means so much more and it’s going to make it easier for us to continue to build the brand in the region.

Especially with the capabilities Mediaportal brings:
• Metadata applied to local sources
• Multilingual content when it’s available
• A user interface in English, Korean and Traditional or simplified Chinese

Having this portal in very unique countries like Korea and Taiwan, where the media landscapes are not in line with any other international market, gives us the insight and confidence to expand our services further and faster. As a business we haven’t actually changed anything that we can do at the core, but it’s much easier for the team to tell the story of what we can help clients achieve.

How have clients received Isentia’s new product offering in Korea and Taiwan?

David: The reception in Korea has been incredibly positive. The fact is, the decision making processes in companies in these markets are typically longer than most countries, so there’s still a lot of opportunity there for us to sign on more clients than we already have. I’m confident it’s going to be a real breakthrough for us.

Taiwan is just as promising! We’ve recently launched and already signed our first round of clients. They’re coming over from competitors after seeing a demo of a prototype. So you can see that there was already a buzz building there. Of course, the client services team are really excited about Mediaportal, too.

Sean: The other key point to add to this is that this is the first time we’re taking a single platform approach to Asia. We’re simplifying what we do by retiring a series of smaller platforms and outputs & providing a superior, whole-of-company approach. In doing this we will give our clients the best media intelligence service and make it more seamless to our clients to go get regional or global servicing.

The important thing to emphasise again is that we’re delivering a Mediaportal experience which has been adapted to the client needs of each market. Mediaportal will have a multilingual UI and be able to receive content and data from any Asian language.

Sean, I know you’re heading over to Hong Kong and China really soon, can you tell us a bit more about what that trip will entail?

Sean: My time in Hong Kong and China will focus on getting both these markets ready for Mediaportal. There’s a big change management process that David and I need to work through in order to enable our teams and ensure a successful release of Mediaportal.

Launching in Korea and Taiwan was exciting because both were new markets, and there was no legacy to contend with. This isn’t the case when we go live in Hong Kong and China. We’ll introduce a new platform, and a key challenge will be enabling our people and clients so that Mediaportal is easy for them and improves the service. We already deliver the market leading media intelligence service in Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. We now want this to be the reality in Hong Kong and China.

So we are coming together to build the internal culture and knowledge. What David brings is the skills, expertise and leadership in doing business in Asia, while I bring my experience in Media and Intelligence – we meet in the middle and will work towards a shared goal of releasing Mediaportal in Hong Kong and China and all other markets. Isn’t that the plan David?

David: [laughter] We’re really happy with the way we have structured this because what we have is someone who really understands Mediaportal through his experience and leadership in Media and Intelligence. The support in implementation, positioning and communicating the value of Mediaportal is fantastic and will really help our teams to expand their knowledge.

As we see digital connectivity continue to grow across the region, it’s easy to see the potential in this diverse and unique region. What’s your take on the media landscape and the growth in Asia Pac.?

David: Well as you you’ve already pointed out, the landscape has been rapidly changing and becoming more digitized. I think the difference in Asia is that the capturing of data is actually easier than before because there is less print (print media requires more complexity to capture and costly) and maybe less in broadcast. A notable change in the media landscape is that there is more online news and social –with the digital growth, everything is moving on to the cloud. If you’re not using a platform with the power of the cloud, how will you contain all the data?

Another key point, as well as fast paced growth, is the demographics across the Asian population. For the most part, it is a younger subset. For example the median age of the Vietnamese population was 30.4 years in 2015. This has a big impact on the adoption curve to digital and how media is consumed now and into the future.

What does it take to succeed? And what can we do to bring all that together?

Sean: We know Mediaportal is a great product and that our clients in other markets use it successfully every day to help manage the media and stay informed. Getting the change process right will be critical. We need to make sure our people become experts at using Mediaportal and understand how to show case to our clients so that they can see the benefits it will bring to them as professional communicators.

Secondly the media market is very different in Asia, not just as a region, even as we look country to country. As David has pointed out it is more digitally driven – so online news and social media will be key. Isentia has always had depth of content and data and in Asia this will be no different. In addressing this, we have got to be smarter – the volumes of data in Asia are infinitely bigger. Managing volume and noise for our clients is that we do, by getting the relevant sources to our clients at the right time.

Can you outline what each of you view to be the key competitive advantages that Isentia have over other key players in market?

Sean: We have the greatest reach and can provide our clients with the relevant content and data that they need to stay informed. We do this through a single platform (Mediaprotal) and clients can access this through the web, mobile apps or any device. Importantly Isentia monitors any media type - whether it is print, broadcast, radio or online news - we cover it all. Our clients will have the confidence that they are fully informed. This is unique, as what I see of most other players in the market is they only cover one or two media types.

Another key difference is what Isentia does with all that content and data, through our relevance engines. We make sure that we get the right information to our clients at the right time. We shield them from the noise!

Lastly, it is the strength of our people, we are local and operate in every country. Our teams will understand the media landscape and clients in each country individually.

How do you both collaborate and come together to bring some of Isentia’s strategic objectives to life?

Sean: We talk all the time! We have regular meetings and when needed I spend time in Asia. We stay connected and touch base on all the important points and have very open and robust conversations about what we need to do.

Again, we both bring different strengths to this partnership. David has the Asian knowledge, like people and sales, whereas I bring a range of experience across media intelligence, and that’s how we build a better business.

David: I think we have only one goal and is to make sure that we deliver the best client experience – that is how we really grow Isentia. We understand the client needs locally and I think Sean and his team contribute different industry knowledge and product insights so that our teams can deliver.

“Powered by Technology. Inspired by people” – What does this mean to you?

David: We’re in the business to help clients solve problems. We need our people to understand the client problem and the approaches we can take to help them solve it. But when it comes to implementation, we need technology to help with the complex media landscape world. I doubt any company successfully performs without technology and people going hand in hand.

Sean: I think it’s getting the best out of both. Our service is powered by technology, especially when you talk about the scale and volumes we now encounter. Our people help guide our clients through that busy 24/7 media landscape, and add value to what technology cannot already do.

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Blog
Breaking Boundaries In Media Intelligence

Another year draws to a close and 2018 fast approaches, but it’s business as usual at Isentia offices across the globe. Mediaportal is now available in Korea and Taiwan, and Asia Pacific continues to be a highlight for Isentia’s Media and Intelligence business.

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Earlier this year, Kris Wu, 27, a Chinese singer and actor made history by becoming the first artist from mainland China to perform at the Super Bowl. The NFL also named him official Super Bowl LII ambassador for China. As one of the most influential young celebrities in China, Kris is also the first non-British brand ambassador for Burberry, and ambassador for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans.

To target the world’s most populated market and to be better engage with over 200 million millennials in China, more and more multinational brands are collaborating with young Chinese celebrities.  Especially those with high commercial value and significant social media influence. For example; Michael Kors partnered with Yang Mi, while Bally is working with Tang Yan, and Lancôme choose Zhou Dongyu as a brand ambassador.

Isentia’s recent social media analysis report “The hottest young Chinese celebrities that luxury brands should be following” reveals some of China’s young rising stars that may be next on the brand collaboration watch list, given their commercial value, reputation and highly visible lifestyle.

Download the full report now or read on for a sneak peek!

Case study:

SK-II partner with Leah Dou (窦靖童)

Leah Dou, born in 1997, is the youngest brand spokesperson for SK-II. Known for her rebellious, edgy but also cool attitude, including a distinctive chin tattoo, Leah is somewhat of a departure from the Japanese skincare brands traditional brand representatives.

As the daughter of China’s famous musician Faye Wong and Dou Wei, Leah is a unique Chinese celebrity and according to Isentia’s analysis, after a month from the launch of the “Your statement, your bottle” SK-II campaign, it contributed to 21% of SK-II’s social buzz.

In the past two years, SK-II has increased its marketing efforts in China by leveraging e-commerce and social media tactics crafted for the local market. SK-II’s Changing Destiney campaign has successfully aroused resonance among the Chinese consumers, and sales roared 50% in 2016 from April to December.

Tinna Nien , SK-II’s senior PR manager said in a media interview that to quickly adapt to the China market demand and tap into the millennial consumers, SK-II works with Leah to create diverse brand images, as she is not just represents young consumers but also symbolizes independent values.

However, the collaboration didn’t work for everyone. According to Isentia’s social media analysis, netizens expressed an ambivalent view on choosing Leah Dou as a brand ambassador as they felt she wasn’t a ‘right match’ with the brand.  Sentiment then hit bottom and also triggered discussion around the push to be ‘younger’ and label those over 25, unmarried to be ‘leftover women’. Large amounts of Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) however continued to blast positive articles and posts towards the SK-II x Leah Dou collaboration and KOLs followers expressed supportive opinions. The sentiment peaked and lasted around 10 days. Over 114 KOLs leveraged for promoting #‘生而由我,从心所欲BE THE PERSON YOU DECIDE TO BE #, SK-II seamlessly leveraged the KOLs to promote Tmall, Duty free and offline promotions.

China’s top rising stars:

So who are the ones to watch?

The raising social media e-commerce and fan economy creates a new direct-to-consumer model that enable brands efficiently convert the leads. In Chinese, people call the celebrities who are good at promoting and selling products via social media to their fans ‘Dai Huo Huang Di or Huang Hou’ (King or Queen of product sales). According to Isentia social media analysis, the brand or event co-mentions ratio of King or Queen of product sales could up to 20% to 40%.

Using our powerful media listening tool, along with bespoke framework and extensive keyword iteration list, Isentia’s award winning media analysis team identified the latest popular influencers based on real data and their ability to impact sales through brands collaborations.

Celebrities born after the 1990s have become popular on Weibo since they garnered high buzz volumes thanks to TV dramas and shows. “孟子坤 Meng Zikun”, “周震南Zhou zhennan”, “马伯骞 Ma bosai” and “赵天宇Zhao tianyu”, were all known thanks to the TV show “The coming one” (明日之子.

 To view the full celebrity rank and download the full report, please visit:

https://www.isentiawire.com/white-paper-download-the-hottest-young-chinese-celebrities-that-luxury-brands-should-be-following/
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Blog
China’s young rising stars, their commercial value and the brands that are collaborating with them

Earlier this year, Kris Wu, 27, a Chinese singer and actor made history by becoming the first artist from mainland China to perform at the Super Bowl. The NFL also named him official Super Bowl LII ambassador for China. As one of the most influential young celebrities in China, Kris is also the first non-British brand ambassador for Burberry, and ambassador for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans.

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Live streaming is becoming a leading sales platform in China. There are currently more than 200 live streaming sites with over 200 million users, according to huxiu.com, while Credit Suisse predicts the China live streaming market will see US$5 billion in revenue this year.

How does a 90-minute live streaming program create over $14 million in sales?

Source: “2017 China live streaming industry trend report” by Penguin Intelligence

2015 was a turning point for the streaming industry. Previously, China followed Western live streaming companies such as Meerkat, Snapchat and Periscope, but the landscape has since evolved. Thanks to the expansion of the 4G network, smartphones and mobile payments, live steaming platforms have solidified their place in marketing. Panda TV and Douyu.com are two key players, mostly focusing on online games, entertainment featuring singing and dancing, and other vertical live streaming markets.

When it comes to live streaming marketing, the most effective campaigns feature a combination of live streaming and e-commerce. According to the 2017 China live streaming industry trend report, 41.25% of respondents in China watched e-commerce live streaming at least once. Among those, 60% browsed the products recommended by the live streaming hosts, while 20% purchased the recommended products after watching the program.

Here are just a few brands that have enjoyed record-breaking live streaming campaigns in the past two years:

In April 2016, Maybelline launched a live streaming campaign to promote its new lipstick range. The brand invited famous Chinese actress Angelababy and several online influencers in the cosmetics sector to participate, and then broadcast the event via nine popular live streaming platforms. Over five million people watched the live stream, with over 10,000 lipsticks sold during the two-hour special, achieving RMB1.42 million (US$210,000) in sales.

In May, baby formula brand Illume invited famous movie star Wu Chan  to host a one-hour live stream on Taobao and Meipai. Through the shopping-while-watching function, the sales conversion rate reached 36% – seven times more than Illume’s regular e-commerce conversion rate – and achieved over RMB1.2 million (US$176,000) in sales during the broadcast.

Earlier this year, a live stream campaign on Tianmao smashed another sales record. According to Sina Finance, more than 350,000 people viewed the program called “The Meow Car”, produced by China’s largest automobile e-commerce website maimai.com. More than 1,400 Shanghai-Volkswagen Lavidas were sold and booking sales reached over RMB100 million (US$14 million) within 90 minutes of streaming. Within 24 hours, total bookings were worth RMB190 million.

Here’s a summary of the successful formats behind e-commerce live streams.

Key element 1: Celebrity + hot issues/event

As Eden Lau, Isentia’s Regional Director who oversees the Asia social media analysis services, says: “Celebrity-plus-event is one of the most effective and frequently used approaches in live streaming marketing.”  According to Isentia’s social media research into the luxury sector, hot posts and organic buzz led by celebrities rose from 12% in 2015 to 42% in 2017.

Source: Isentia luxury sector social data. Hot posts engagements relating to luxury brands, engagement refers to weibo reposts, comments

Among hundreds of live streaming platforms and thousands of programs that appear at the same time, celebrity premium definitely has greater pull to attract audiences.  “The Meow Car” program used TV star Kan Benben (阚犇犇), who played a very controversial role in the recent TV series In the Name of the People in China. Social media discussions about his character pushed related topics up the Weibo Hot Topics ranks.

Key element 2: Content is king, creative is queen

While people may be attracted to the celebrity ‘fame factor’, the key to a successful live streaming campaign is to have creative content that keeps people watching until they take action. “The Meow Car” was an online PGC (professionally generated content) program in an entertainment-show format. By leveraging hot discussions surrounding the popular TV series, the stream invited viewers to interact and tease actor Kan Benben by chatting and playing games with him live. Kan Benben’s entertaining responses and funny facial expressions captivated the audience. According to Tianmao, over 300,000 people watched the live stream and the program received 2.2 million likes.

Other common formats for live streaming campaigns include fashion shows or product launches. They are used as a tool to amplify the impact of the offline events and attract more audiences.

For example, last year L’Oréal invited Chinese celebrities Gong Li, Li Bingbing and Li Yuchun to live stream behind-the-scenes segments at the Cannes Film Festival for its official Meipai account. The streams received 160 million likes in total. During the live streams, Li Yuchun introduced L’Oréal products and recommended a lipstick that she used during the festival. After four hours of live streaming, the featured lipsticks were sold out in L’Oréal’s Tmall flagship store.

Other creative formats for live streaming campaigns include sharing new technology, teaching audiences about how to use new products, and revealing backstage or production procedures.

Key element 3: Discount promotions and the bandwagon effect

In the “The Meow Car” live steaming program, Maimai.com offered promotions such as: buy the Shanghai-Volkswagen Lavida and get a free iPad. Plus, for every 50 cars sold, the platform offered a lucky draw for a half-price car. The campaign also set up a purchase strategy by offering “0 first payment and only RMB499 booking fee” to boost sales.

Based on KPMG’s China’s Connected Consumers 2016 report, price remains the key driver behind online shopping – Chinese consumers are more price-sensitive during online shopping, and discounts are a major driving force.

Apart from the interactions between the live streaming host and viewers, comments from other viewers and purchase actions also have an effect on sales. Zhang Zhendong, founder of Bolo.me, a cross-border e-commerce site, says: “The reason that live streaming is able to dramatically improve the sales conversion rate is because the format creates a group effect among viewers. Under a strong inter-action scenery, the live streamer and the viewers are all pulling towards the same sales direction – bandwagon effect is affecting everyone.“

Alibaba’s CEO Zhang Yong has emphasized his views on the future of marketing on multiple occasions, stating that “marketing has changed, commodity needs content” and “content is the bridge to link people”.

Similar to online influencer marketing and short video marketing, live streaming is a new weapon in the digital marketer’s arsenal. For brands thinking about tapping into the live streaming market, we suggest starting with research and using tools such as social media analysis to uncover any live streaming case studies within your industry. The next step is finding the platform where your target audiences reside. Only then should you identify any celebrities or online influencers that you can partner with. Most importantly, understand the trends and hot topics to create attractive content for your audience.



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Blog
How To Generate Sales Through Live Streaming?

Live streaming is becoming a leading sales platform in China. There are currently more than 200 live streaming sites with over 200 million users, according to huxiu.com, while Credit Suisse predicts the China live streaming market will see US$5 billion in revenue this year. How does a 90-minute live streaming program create over $14 million […]

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Photo of stakeholders engaging with insights as part of an organisation strategy

Insights promote action and change with stakeholders

Research, measurement and evaluation needs to promote action with relevant stakeholders including the general public. It’s easy to fall into a trap of measuring something because you think you should or because someone has asked for a few charts on a communication team's activity. But your stakeholder engagement strategy is missing an opportunity to create long term impact with key audiences.   

Stakeholders (internal and external) are an effective resource for driving change and shifting narratives. Stakeholders are a crucial avenue for advocacy of communications activity but are usually not provided with the necessary information. They need motivation to change their behaviour and support your objectives. 

A project that champions this is the Media and Gender research the Isentia insights team produced with Sport New Zealand. This research examines how women are portrayed across sports news in New Zealand and shines a light on where there is work to do. The research itself is engaging and builds rich insight into an area often not looked at on this scale. The most success lies in how research helped motivate and support behaviour change within the primary stakeholder - the media.

Move stakeholders with data-led evidence

Editor of The LockerRoom, Suzanne McFadden, said this study encourages national representation of women in sport,

“A surge in women's sport in NZ media, but a fall in female bylines, highlight the latest Sport NZ study - which also shows where LockerRoom leads the pack.”

Article referencing the research and how it's impacting women in sports coverage by online news publication, RNZ. An example of stakeholder engagement strategy
Article referencing the research and how it's impacting women in sports coverage by online news publication, LockerRoom. An example of stakeholder engagement strategy in action.

Jennie Wylie, Netball New Zealand’s Chief Executive said to Radio New Zealand, that media coverage plays a vital role in female participation in sports,

"What we do know is the cost of our young people not participating in sport, and the gap for young women and girls in that participation, it plays out in terms of media coverage, so if you can't see it, you can't be it."

Sport New Zealand was able to build a stakeholder engagement strategy using data and research that goes beyond numbers. It encourages those at the source of reporting to strive to improve. 

Here are some tips on how to rethink your approach to research and evaluation, so your organisation can do the same: 

4 considerations for your stakeholder engagement strategy

1. Don’t only focus on your own activity

It’s easy to fall into the measurement trap of focusing on your own activity and neglect your audience and sector. It’s important to understand if your communication is successful, but you're missing key opportunities (and threats) that you can only see if your research lens is wider.

2. The value of pre-research

Research performs at its best when used to determine where you should be going instead of only where you’ve been. Bring research into your planning early and give insight into what your audiences already experience as well as their responses and their preferences, so you can tailor your organisation’s activity based on evidence. 

3. Use your evidence to generate conversations

Engage all your stakeholders in the research process and as early as possible to increase their investment in the results, regardless if it means changing their own behaviour. The more measurement and research is collaborative and unites stakeholders within a common purpose, the more effectively it will spur change.

4. Measure more than once

Changing audiences and information requires your organisation’s research lens to focus on what's relevant to your objectives and audiences. 

measurement lens graphic for stakeholder engagement strategy.
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Talk to the experts about how Isentia insights can refocus your stakeholder engagement strategy

Ultimately, research should help drive conversations, and in those conversations is where you can create change. It doesn’t always work the first time, so be persistent - it’s worth it! 

Contact us to discuss how we can create a tailored measurement programme that supports your goals.

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Thought Leadership
A targeted stakeholder engagement strategy in 4 steps

To have an impactful stakeholder engagement strategy you must use the right data-led insights to drive interest in your objectives.

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Get in touch or request a demo.