Article at a Glance:
- The relationship between brands and consumers has undergone a fundamental shift in recent years ‒ it’s far more personal, interactive, and sustained.
- According to a 2018 PwC survey, one of the top reasons consumers cite for doing business with a retailer is “I trust the brand.”
- If brands are willing to be more open-minded about their digital marketing, they can forge stronger relationships with consumers and stretch their ad budgets as far as possible.
- When it comes to measuring perceptions of authenticity, there are many indicators a brand can focus on, such as customer retention and turnover rates and surveys that track levels of trust and loyalty.
- When brands use the vast range of digital resources at their disposal to build stronger relationships with their customers and track the health of those relationships, they’ll be putting their creative content to use as effectively as possible.
At a time when brands have more control over ad targeting, placement, and delivery than ever before, they have to be extra cognizant of how they’re putting creative content to use.
The relationship between brands and consumers has undergone a fundamental shift in recent years ‒ it’s far more personal, interactive, and sustained. This means brands have to develop content that consumers regard as authentic and trustworthy, while creatively using the ever-multiplying digital platforms to deliver it in a way that communicates their values and generates healthier return on ad spend (ROAS).
Despite balancing many moving parts, marketers also have unlimited opportunities to engage through different formats and strategies.
Marketers have always had a complicated job, but they’ve never had to focus on so many moving parts at once. However, this means they also have unprecedented opportunities to experiment with different formats and engagement strategies. If brands are willing to be more open-minded about their digital marketing, they can forge stronger relationships with consumers and stretch their ad budgets as far as possible.
The age of authenticity
Every brand insists that it takes its stated values seriously, genuinely cares about its customers, and wants to make the world a better place. But it will take more than vague assurances about “making a difference” to convince consumers that your brand means it. According to a 2018 PwC survey, one of the top reasons consumers cite for doing business with a retailer is “I trust the brand.”
The same report identifies authenticity as one of the core drivers of brand trust. Brands clearly need to build campaigns that are perceived as authentic, but this is something many marketers struggle to do. A 2019 Stackla survey found that, while 92 percent of marketers “believe most or all of the content their brand creates resonates as authentic with consumers,” just 51 percent of consumers agreed.
This is why performance marketing is so important. Gone are the days when brands would launch campaigns and hope for the best ‒ they expect marketers to demonstrate ROAS and other key performance metrics if they’re going to continue making investments. When it comes to measuring perceptions of authenticity, there are many indicators a brand can focus on, such as customer retention and turnover rates and surveys that track levels of trust and loyalty.
Thanks to all the digital platforms available, brands don’t just have more performance marketing assessment tools than ever before ‒ they also have more ways to reach consumers where their messages will be perceived as authentic.
Choosing the right messengers and platforms
Take a moment to consider the tectonic shifts that have permanently altered consumers’ media landscape. Just ten years ago, less than half of American adults used social media ‒ a proportion that has surged to around three-quarters. Information posted by consumers’ friends and loved ones has become a significant part of their daily media intake. Is it any surprise that they expect brands to be more accessible and authentic?
We’re witnessing the widespread democratization of media. This is why user-generated content (UGC) ‒ which encompasses videos, photos, music, and any other material produced by independent creatives ‒ has emerged as one of the most trustworthy forms of communication. According to Stackla, consumers are almost two-and-a-half times more likely to say UGC is authentic than branded content. This is why brands are increasingly using UGC in many different domains, including paid media campaigns that incorporate many different pieces of independently-produced content.
There are many other ways brands can take advantage of UGC and democratized media. They can invite influential social media users and bloggers to discuss and review their products, commission work from independent content creators (which can be used on an individual basis, as part of a larger paid campaign, etc.), and interact directly with consumers. Whether these campaigns are built around social media or other channels, it’s crucial to identify target markets and rigorously track a set of concrete outcomes.
Use technology to increase the impact of your creative content
Even if brands are consistently creating authentic and engaging content, their work isn’t going to find its way into consumers’ social media feeds, inboxes, and anywhere else they consume information on its own.
Brands can use social media, email newsletters, and blog posts to provide content that goes far beyond traditional advertising. At a time when consumers want more personalized and authentic relationships with brands, one of the best ways to earn their trust and loyalty is by providing useful material (such as reports, articles, and webinars) for free. Ads that include a direct call to action (material to download, a webinar link to click, etc.) can provide data on consumer behavior that can inform future campaigns.
But this type of accountability is vital across all the digital platforms you use ‒ brands should track the performance of campaigns and individual pieces of content to know what’s resonating with consumers and what’s not. While marketers have far more digital communication channels to worry about, this gives them the ability to track ad performance with an unprecedented level of granularity. Paid media campaigns used to be confined to a few major mediums (TV, print, etc.), but they’re now dynamic multi-platform efforts that can take advantage of the unique capacities of each communication channel.
When brands use the vast range of digital resources at their disposal to build stronger relationships with their customers and track the health of those relationships, they’ll be putting their creative content to use as effectively as possible.