Though it’s not quite over yet, it’s safe to say that 2017 has been an interesting year for advertising. Technology is advancing quickly and new methods are being tested but despite the new strides being made, almost half of Americans don’t even trust the brands they’re hearing from.
If there’s anything we learned in 2017 however, it’s this: highly targeted (read: personal) campaigns work. Music streaming service Spotify made headlines at the end of 2016 when they introduced personalized billboards in cities across the globe. The “Thanks 2016, It’s Been Weird” campaign creatively pieced together user data to craft effective, locally-relevant campaigns. A great example is one billboard in London which featured the text, “Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’ the day of the Brexit vote, hang in there.” In New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and dozens of other cities, the campaign offered the same timely, hyper-local content.
The campaign’s success revealed truths about the future of marketing: technology is opening a new door for localization and personalization. Consumers want a tailored experience and marketing has to appeal to that expectation. In a world where almost anything that can be an ad is an ad, how do you keep potential customers glued to your narrative? Staying relevant is a big step towards that but to really win them over, you have to get personal.
An Accenture report released in 2016 showed that over half of consumers are likely to shop at a retailer that knows them by name, knows their purchase history, can make recommendations based on past purchases, and sends relevant, personalized promotions.When consumers are constantly bombarded by ads, it’s comforting to know that a retailer cares about them, even if it’s not on an entirely personal basis. So, how can your brand tell that story without trying too hard?
Keep It LocalEven if it’s difficult to get your hands on a set of neatly-packaged geofenced data from social media, it’s still possible to keep the focus of your campaign local. Seamless captured the hearts of New Yorkers with a series of subway ads that spoke to their way of life while getting lost on tourists– which doubled the appeal. Using phrases such as, “Pre-war charm always includes a pre-war kitchen,” they reclaimed some struggles all New Yorkers can relate to and took advantage of what might as well be a citywide inside joke. In doing so, Seamless sewed itself into the fabric of the city. Though part of a national company, it established itself as being uniquely New York, a move to build trust with potential customers.
A large part of marketing strategy for the last several decades has been to wait for an event where visibility is inevitable (Super Bowl, anyone?) and purchase an ad spot. It’s not a bad strategy since it’s guaranteed that your ad will be seen by a lot of potential customers. However, consumers now long for authenticity. With the advent of social media, large unscripted events become instantly relevant and social media users are all able to be a part of it. An example of this is when Ken Bone asked a question during the 2016 presidential debates and ended up winning the hearts of many Americans. Clothing brand Izod was quick to notice Bone’s now-famous red sweater and knew they had to have him in one of their ads. With all eyes already on Mr. Bone, the ad went viral. Izod saw a cultural phenomenon happening and capitalized on it. Even if just for a day or two, they were relevant among the always-fickle Twitter crowd. If you want to open a meaningful narrative between your brand and your customers, pay attention to what they’re talking about. Relevancy and relatability is more important than ever now that consumers crave transparency.
Be A Part of Unanticipated Cultural Moments
You’ve kept your campaigns personal and local, you successfully latched on to a cultural moment and you have a plethora of new customers to show for it. (Good job!) Now, how do you keep them coming back? The Accenture data shows that consumers simply want to be treated like humans. Rather than taking the traditional approach to seeing that transaction as being complete once they pass through the purchase funnel, why not show some gratitude for your customers or clients? It’s only a matter of time before technology shifts again and makes it possible for even more personalized and tailored ads to come out automatically. What technology can’t add is the human element.
You brand has a story that deserves to be told and strategic marketing can bring in customers who want to hear it. Putting in the time to research and assimilate may not be the easiest but it will always be worth it. As far as a place to start, why not take a hyper-local look at social media by geofencing your potential customers? (Or your competitor’s potential customers.) GoBabl may be just what you need and luckily, you can try it for free.