It wasn’t that long ago that companies believed content had nothing to do with the success or failure of their brand. Companies believed what they posted and where they posted it had no real effect on marketing efforts. Today, companies like are understanding just how valuable authentic content is.
The digital age and the data revolution has empowered consumers to chase after the content they’re looking for – and on their own terms. Today’s consumers can choose when and where they interact with content and do so from their choice of devices. And even though this content is available 24/7/365, surprisingly this availability of information hasn’t put them on overload. In fact, quite the opposite is true: consumers are finding the movies, music, and other content they’re interested in, and – gasp – it’s engaging.
Does this mean marketing gurus are in control? Somewhere behind a curtain, is there a quiet, disheveled wizard making all the moves? Quite the contrary. Consumers are controlling their engagement at every level and they’re absolutely prepared to reward their favorite brands with attention and loyalty.
But there is a catch.
The content you’re providing has to pass muster. If not?
Having an all-access pass to content means consumers can also bypass, mute, minimize, or X-Out of something if it’s not holding their attention. In fact, many consumers opt for online environments in which there are no ads at all. Some consumers go so far as to actually pay a subscription fee to rid their device of content they don’t want to see.
This can have drastic effects on your brand. What can you do?
Study the branded content campaigns that have totally surpassed expectations, for starters. But first, what are some of the advantages of branded content?
Advantages of Branded Content
Your marketing and sales departments are no stranger to the customer journey. But ask them about today’s customer journey, and you might hear a story of the upending of said journey. Today, it’s a disjointed, disrupted vehicle – and your job is making sure all belts are fastened and seat trays are in the upright position.
You can’t risk losing a customer because they wanted off the plane. How do you keep them on the journey?
Get on the plane with them. Be where they are. And most importantly, show them an in-flight movie that appeals to their interests. When you captivate your audience, they’ll give you permission to speak freely about your brand – and they won’t even know you’re talking.
The main advantage of branded content is it works better than everyday, traditional advertising.
Think about it: you see it in your feed – ads are everywhere they can be, such as your:
- Facebook feed
- Twitter feed
- Music or movie streaming account
- eReading device
- Website banner ads
Fads and trends come and go, right? You probably view branded content as merely that – a trend – and one that, while it’s on the rise, will eventually fade away. But it’s more than just a trend – it’s the face of marketing today. It shows no signs of fading. And best of all, it works. Branded content grabs the attention of the audience, creates a buzz, and causes an improvement in brand recall. It’s been shown that branded content has a 59-percent higher chance of being remembered versus static display ads. Branded content also improves your chances of consumers seeking out further content from your company.
But why does it work so well? Because the consumer doesn’t feel like you’re trying to sell them something. Branded content paints your brand in a positive, trustworthy light.
Examples of Branded Content
You can find examples of branded content nearly everywhere, but these companies stand heads above the competition.
When it comes to creating content, the auto industry is a pioneering champion. Back in 2001, Hollywood movie directors wrote, filmed, and distributed micro-films – longtail commercials – for the BMW company. Each of these commercials featured a Jason Bourne-esque character named simply The Driver (actor Clive Owen). The Driver drove various BMW models in these commercials and introduced a whole new demographic to these luxury cars.
Zendesk provides a service to companies to assist with customer and client support issues. No matter what type of service or product you provide, consumers will always look for alternatives – due to price points, specific offerings, or other reasons. Knowing this, Zendesk took the opportunity to playfully make fun of themselves while highlighting their service at the same time. They decided to hijack the keyword search phrase Zendesk alternatives. They built a small website with the search phrase as the domain name and put a short video on the site. It was a brilliant way to showcase their product while also highlighting their values – and their personality.
Children and adults around the world fell in love with the quirky but corny characters of the LEGO Movie franchise. So much so that the movie was a box office hit grossing over $460 million worldwide. LEGO Batman grossed over $312 million. Combined, these movies were one of the world’s most effective pieces of branded content ever. Consumers would never have guessed these movies were branded content, but they were indeed, resulting in an increase in brand awareness and sales. In fact, LEGO sets’ sales rose a whopping 25% after the movie’s 2015 release.
Understanding your audience and their interests can help you create successful branded content campaigns, too.
What Are Consumers Looking for in Branded Content?
Consumers appear to be a fickle bunch, jumping from one fad to the next. But, there’s an undercurrent flowing through your audience – a heartbeat that, if listened to, can help your brand be in their direct line of vision. You must meet consumer expectations and with perfect timing. When you do so, you earn the trust of your audience while grabbing their attention. Once you’ve got their attention, though, you then must:
Begin creating content that your audience is looking for when they’re looking for it. If you don’t, you’ll fade into the background as they seek out brands that do. By providing content that speaks to the interests, beliefs, and lifestyles of your audience, you’re dramatically improving how your audience views your brand overall. At the same time, if your content doesn’t deliver on these touchpoints, you risk driving your audience into the arms of your competitors.
That can prove costly. In fact, over 40% of consumers have left one brand for another due to lack of trust, poor personalization, or a combination of both. This abandonment cost companies over $750 billion in the United States in 2017 alone.
But is there a sweet spot? Just a few years ago, seeing an ad displayed on your computer or mobile phone shortly after having visited a store online or in-person felt creepy. Today, it’s the norm. But, brands have realized that merely showing ads and generic content has done nothing for sales, much less for reputation. As you take the time to get to know your target audience, you can craft the content that’s perfect for each type of consumer. Offering product recommendations that the prospect might actually use shows them that you’re not out just to make a sale – you genuinely want to help them out.
This type of hyper-personalized recommendation is exactly what gurus such as Netflix and Amazon have perfected. In fact, their success is owed in large part to their personalization. For instance, Netflix sees customers take them up on 75% of recommended content, and 35% of purchases made on Amazon are due to the app’s recommendations to customers. Are you delivering this type of hyper-personalized content to your customers?
And fast? You could have the world’s best marketing program in place, but if you don’t deliver quickly it won’t matter. If your website hasn’t loaded within two seconds, you begin losing out on potential conversions. A mere one-second delay can result in a decrease in customer satisfaction. And what’s worse, in less than a second a dissatisfied shopper can share their experience across several social media platforms. For consumers, a slow-loading website is the equivalent of a shoddy product and a shady company.
With the right marketing mix and personalized, branded content strategies, you’ll overcome any potential challenges and meet your customers where they are.
Remember when you were a child and how wonderful it was when you were told a story? Your brand tells a story every day. When you begin crafting your messages, remember the above strategies. And when you blend a healthy dose of authenticity into the mix, people will relate to your brand like a trusted friend. Authentic brands have compelling stories, and those stories captivate their audience. Once captivated, that audience actively chooses engagement with that brand. Cultivate that affection, improve your brand’s recall, and you’ll be giving your customers exactly what they want from branded content.
Tell your story.