Look for signals that humanize engagement, understanding what customers love, what they don’t love, their intent and context, and how to get them to the next step intuitively and happily. Customers are going to have an experience either way, and those experiences, whether good or bad, become memories. Make them count.
HomeAway strives to add customer value using real-time consumer behavior data to identify whether a customer is merely researching and might convert several weeks in the future and to differentiate that customer from those whose behaviors indicate they are ready to book immediately. HomeAway then customizes content and messaging that’s useful to customers at different stages in their customer journey to keep them engaged until they’re ready to rent.
“Marketing is now a feedback loop,” David Baekholm, senior VP of growth marketing for HomeAway, told me. “These signals help us understand in real time what our customers want and how to give them a frictionless experience that helps them convert when they’re ready.”
2. Be Engaging
In a world of constant digital distraction, most consumers are learning to tune out or cut down the flow of advertisements and marketing content. Forty-seven percent of consumers are blocking ads, according to the GlobalWebIndex.
So for brands, the old ways of telling their stories and selling products no longer cut it. Content marketing generates three times as many leads as search advertising today. Long-form pieces, videos, and listicles are common in nearly every consumer’s media diet, so engaging in the creative content space is a must for brands.
To many consumers, ads can seem like works of art. If you think about Super Bowl ads, each year, the most engaging and effective ads are the ones that are the most original, eye-catching, funny, or artistic.
So you should identify the customers you’re looking to attract, and look for original and inventive ways to appeal to that market. But remember: Consumers don’t respond to obviously branded content, so focus on creating high-quality material before finding a way to insert your brand.
Carnival Corp. uses data in real time across digital channels to create personalized, creative content for customers. The company identifies potential cruisers by aligning culturally relevant data signals with identified consumer passions for comedy and food. For example, Carnival targets customers who enjoy the Lip Sync Battle on the Paramount Network and sends suggestions for checking out Guy Fieri’s burger joints on the cruise line.
3. Create An Emotional Connection
Trends in advertising and marketing tones change constantly, but positive, emotional messages are always a meaningful form of engagement. Studies have shown that consumers link the tone of an advertisement with their perception of the brand’s tone overall.
A two-year study that examined emotional connections on the buying behavior of 100,000 retail customers found “emotionally connected” customers have an incredibly high lifetime value (306%). They also recommend their favorite brands much more often than average customers, (71% versus 45%). Another study found emotional engagement forges deeper ties to brand loyalty, which is viewed as a more valuable metric than customer satisfaction. In a media landscape inundated with negative stories and somber news, a wholly positive brand image that taps into consumers’ emotions can be a valuable asset for making the right impression on a distracted consumer base.
Positive branding doesn’t have to mean advertisements full of sunshine and laughter. Even a clean, modern web design goes a long way toward grabbing and holding a user’s attention. An attractive and unblemished image is what more and more consumers are looking for in a world cluttered with indistinct brand personalities.
4. Encourage Sharing
One of the single most underutilized marketing channels is word-of-mouth marketing. Research shows consumers are more likely to trust recommendations from family and friends over traditional advertising, yet many brands are still unsure of the best way to tap into this resource. Creating ad campaigns that encourage users to either create their own content or share your brand’s content is an easy, effective way to stand out from the crowd.
When we think of word-of-mouth marketing, we typically see stories of creative stunts or giveaways that encourage the sharing of pictures, videos, and hashtags on social media. But another approach has been to design your product and its environment as a shareable experience.
For example, 29ROOMS, Color Factory, and Museum of Ice Cream have each designed their displays and exhibits not only for social media, but also to feature the consumer as part of the experience. This can create FOMO among peers and elevate the status of these organizations. Retailers, festivals, concerts, restaurants, and hotels are now emulating these experiential designs to immerse consumers into the product and brand.
The brands that are bound to make the best impressions are the ones with their fingers on the pulse of the moment. Staying on top of what consumers want is the only way to break through the wall of constant distraction surrounding so many people today.