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In an always on marketing ecosystem can brands keep up without oversaturating
In our always on marketing ecosystem it stands to reason that brands should be always communicating. Or does it? Do consumers really want a relationship with their milk? Do they want inanimate objects to say hello to them? To add to the ever-increasing pile-up of unread emails in their inbox? Or is it time for a fresh approach; one that recognises that when it comes to content marketing quality is more important than quantity?
According to HubSpot 33% of marketers said that low open rates is one of the biggest problems they are facing. With email response rates dropping by 40% last year. Yamini Rangan, Chief Executive Officer at HubSpot, has warned that ‘channels are oversaturated with content and ads, and it's pushing new buyers away. As a result, companies are seeing their organic traffic decline, their leaders generation slow down and their conversion rates drop.
According to Hubspot, 83% of marketers believe it’s more effective to create higher-quality content less frequently. A data point which suggests that brands risk simply adding to a growing content obesity epidemic, rather than forging meaningful connections.
When you layer on the potential to create acres of low value content through Generative AI the danger is that brands will simply add to the noise. With this in mind, we asked industry experts if brands should reappraise their content marketing strategies to reach increasingly disconnected consumers.
Said simply, brands cannot, and more importantly should not, continue to run content marketing strategies knowing that disconnected consumers are increasing at an alarming rate. Ultimately, what we seem to miss – or rather hide from behind the continuous tirade of content – is the volume of global energy being used and the vast amounts of damage that is happening to our environment due to these campaigns.
Irrespective of creating higher quality content, and seeding less frequently, brands need to act way more responsibly, right now, when considering their marketing actions. Obvious marketing pulls and financial pressures drag brands towards the digital sphere (e.g. affordability, greater reach, smarter targeting and so on) – this is a given in today’s world.
However, could it be said that today’s brands have also become somewhat lackadaisical towards the more traditional marketing activations that are still at their disposal, yet simply reach for the digital default button, and let it roll?
Zigging when everyone else is zagging might just give brands the opportunity to re-engage with their ‘lapsed digital disconnectors’ within the real world. And, you never know, it may work out that it's even more friendly – for the consumers, brands and the planet.
To get closer to the consumer it’s essential to use meaningful and valuable content. We find that interaction and engagement through gamification and curated fun play, rather than automated ‘trash’ content has far greater value to both the brand and customer. The focus should always be on quality rather than quantity – by creating customised experiences rather than reams of irrelevant information. The brands we work with are seeing tangible benefits from interactive connected experiences, accessed through QR codes or NFC tags found on packaging, which deliver bespoke branded content, that can be adapted in real-time, data-collects to inform a personalised experiences and keep customers coming back for more.
We are all, without a shadow of a doubt, drowning in a sea of shite. A sea of our own making. But each channel has its own issues, rules and conventions. Email and let’s face it spam, which Hubspot contributes to, is all about the lost art of the subject line IMHO. Write a beautiful hook and your open rate will soar. Spoiler - we use Hubspot. And I write the words. But the old school copywriter inside me can’t resist. If you don’t get an open… the content is invisible. So obviously I buy the higher content less frequently. But we have a bigger problem. I heard some AI geek talking about how he wanted to create a bot to continue to tweet in his persona after he died. Imagine a whole platform of bots emulating dead people talking to each other about ‘whatever’ that no one really cared about? Or ever heard. I’ve been in meetings that felt like that. Or how now, you can get AI to write a long email from a short prompt, which then the recipient can use another AI to extract a summary from. We have truly eaten ourselves. You may have noticed that if you want to speak to someone in a noisy, crowded room, the best thing to do is lean close and whisper.
We continually challenge and discuss the optimal amount of content to share weekly/monthly with our clients.
When you start breaking this down into performance, brand and product-led content, across multiple channels, formats and with added personalisation, you can very quickly get to a lot of noise.
This can have a negative effect on consumers or target audiences. If you get multiple emails from brands you don't feel engaged with, you question if you want to receive any more. Similarly, if brands' social content happens too often or is too 'samey, then it's tempting to go on a culling spree. After all, why should your feed be boring because of this content?
The key is focusing on quality and relevance. Of course, less is more isn't always exactly right in this space, as different content is there to serve multiple purposes, but quality over quantity is still not far off the mark.
Identifying objectives, like added value and audience brand experience, when developing content plans is vital. Work out if the content will genuinely drive positive action. This way, you can cut back on the bloat and create content you know will be welcomed and effective.
Our philosophy in ICONIC is to give brands a queue jump to the front of popular culture. Therefore in order to do this they need to be part of the fabric to begin with, not interrupting all that is rich and compelling.
If the brand work does not have real understanding of the culture with which it resides, the output will merely be adding to a state of constant clutter, and slowing audiences through even more ‘content obesity’. There’s an array of criteria which ensures this is achievable, too. For example, all brands should resist resorting to wasteful interruptive display when it is not connected to other more engaging activations. These will always be throwaway, transient and not have a foothold in the wider vernacular.
Likewise, those acting on a cultural trigger or event need to make sure they can move at the speed of a meme. This first mover advantage creates huge organic positivity from hungry audiences who seek and discover what’s truly fresh or new. Another key component is for brands and agencies to make moments that matter so that this then becomes ‘fan-fuel’. In effect, excitable consumers share it instead of ignoring it.
These mean less disconnected consumers, an enriched output predicated more on the way we consume entertainment by discovering, sharing and advocating - not spending our well-earned time merely avoiding.
In 1996, Bill Gates wrote, “content is king”. Ten years later, HubSpot declared advertising was ‘dead and that inbound marketing – in other words ‘content’ – was the answer. Fast forward to 2023, and effectiveness in marketing is at a crisis point.
I’m sure it’s all tied up with the rush to performance marketing and short-term sales objectives. Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science has a concept of in-market and out-of-market buyers. They say a whopping 95% of buyers are not actively looking for a solution. Even worse, they may not even know they have a problem to solve or need a solution.
Most content is created with a focus on those people that are ‘in-market’. They represent the other 5% of buyers. Content to this cohort, at the bottom of the funnel, is often rational, educational and uninspiring. Put that together with the sheer volume of boring content that’s created, and it’s not surprising that open and engagement rates are falling.
The answer, of course, is creativity and work that speak to the emotional part of the brain. The part that craves inspiration and entertainment. Only when marketers (and their agencies) understand that will we see effectiveness increase.
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