Branded Content Improves Customer Engagement

Not long ago we used to profile our target customers based on their areas of residence, age, gender, ethnicity, income size and profession.

Today, the lines between these demographic details are blurred. Immigration, education, innovation, technology and travel have allowed many of us opportunities far beyond the corners that once defined us as individuals and societies.

Today, in the marketing world, we look at algorithms and habits. Where do our target customers go to and why? When is the best time to catch them and why? What activities and causes do they get involved in and why? Knowing these is just half the battle. Once we’ve captured the data, it’s time to win the customers’ attention (and later, their loyalty). And whilst marketing strategies are ever changing, here are three trends you can try to leverage your brand.

 – TELL US A STORY. A REALLY GOOD STORY –

There is a roaming restaurant in London called Mazi Mas. It serves exotic dishes prepared by women from minority communities such as Iran, Ethiopia, Turkey, Senegal, Peru, Nicaragua and Nepal. The business idea was born out of compassion by a lady who saw the challenges migrant women face in new environments, mainly the struggle to find employment. Their website tells the very personal journey of Mazi Mas founder Nikandre Kopcke and has in turn grabbed headlines from international news outlets.

Wouldn’t you want to support a business that makes your heart fat and your belly satisfied? I know I do.

mazi-mas-screenshot-may-2017

Another business story told well comes from a tech brand you’re likely to have heard of: GoPro.

The story of GoPro founder Nick Woodman is the kind we lap up – that rags-to-riches, failure-to-success kind of narrative. Of course, many other great stories don’t have such dramatic histories. Patagonia, for example, started out in the 1960s as small-time sellers of climbing gear. Today they are one of the biggest brands in activewear.

But why is having a strong brand narrative important? Because we are a generation of voyeurs. We enjoy watching other people’s journeys. Through these journeys we decide a person or a brand’s credibility.

If marketing is a contest for people’s attention as Seth Godin describes it, then the best stories put us ahead of the competition.

 – ENGAGE WITH US, DON’T JUST PRESENT –

The days of corporate gobbledygook is long over. Create a conversation with us. The contents of your website, social networks and printed marketing should reflect the way you communicate verbally. Decide if you’d like to speak to your audience as you would with a close friend / an acquaintance / a colleague, etc.

Take Red Bull and Monster energy drinks. They’re similar products appealing to the same sports-driven market. On their websites it might seem like they’re talking to us in the same way. But they’re not. The difference in their communication strategy is subtle, but that subtlety could attract very different audiences.

MONSTER

monster-energy-drink-screenshot-may-2017

What they say:
Discover Monster Energy
Get your Monster Energy social fix with random Monster Tweets, Instagram posts and more

What they mean:
Stalk our social pages and see how cool and involved we are.


REDBULL

redbull-energy-drink-screenshot-may-2017

What they say:
Explore the world of Red Bull
Motorsports | Bike | Surfing | Skateboarding | Music | Adventure | E-Sports | Games

What they mean:
Check out these cool activities…and remember us when you actually decide to do them.

Which one appeals to you more?

– PLAY WITH DIFFERENT SEDUCTION TECHNIQUES –

Us humans, we are fickle. Our perceptions and decisions are influenced by different factors: popular culture, personal relationships, moods, weather, etc. And so sometimes, anticipating audience reaction to our communication strategy can be tricky. It might resonate with one person and backfire with another. Either way, reactions create a ripple effect. Remember that Uber fiasco in back in January (2017)?

French skincare brand L’Occitane makes an ideal case study. Let’s look at their almond product range as an example. They alter the content of the page at random visits and on varying countries. In the web development world, we call this A/B Testing or Split Testing, to see which format performs better.

The first image below starts with
‘Almond is well-known for its ability to nourish the skin…’
followed, at the bottom of the page, by the company’s sustainable practices in sourcing almonds.

loccitane-ab-testing-screenshot-may-2017

x

loccitane-sustainability-screenshot-may-2017

In this next screenshot, L’Occitane offers the features of almond rather than its benefits. The headline starts with,
‘What smells like a cookie and feels like a dream?’

loccitane-split-testing-screenshot-may-2017

And again, a different message:
‘Soothe your body and mind with the radiant power of Provençal almonds. Iconic asset of the south of France, our almond trees blossom with clouds of white flowers that drift on our warm breeze…’

loccitane-almond-products-description-screenshot-may-2017

By contrast, competing British brand The Body Shop focuses solely on the benefits of almond rather than creating an emotional connection with the shopper.

The written content reads,
‘Discover our collection of Almond Milk & Honey products for sensitive skin, that help soothe signs of irritation, redness, dehydration and dryness.’

the-body-shop-almond-products-description-screenshot-may-2017

Personally, I like to know right away how I can benefit from a product I’m looking to buy so in this sense The Body Shop does it ‘ok’. But their content does sound a bit like a prescription. I’ve always associated the The Body Shop brand with luscious skin treats and yummy scents but these elements seem missing in their communication.

In February 2017, the Financial Times reported that ‘sales at The Body Shop […] have continued to substantially underperform the rest of the [L’Oreal] group’.

Although a brand’s profitability can rarely be fully attributed to its communication strategy, it’s certainly a factor that counts in this millennial age of perceptiveness.


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