Every day, more than 4.4 million blog posts are published online, over 105 billion emails are sent, and more than 5 billion videos are uploaded to YouTube. It’s safe to say, consumers are now being inundated with content from every medium. What’s more, during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, content production has soared. For brands, the risk is that consumers become bored with repetitive materials that don’t offer any real value – leading to a big drop in consumer engagement.
How can companies revive consumer interest?
Companies have to invent new, authentic ways of interacting with audiences, especially in a time where people are more savvy about traditional marketing techniques, and have a shorter attention span online. Brands are also having to reassess how they measure the impact of their marketing campaigns – in the pandemic, consumer behaviors have shifted, and ‘tried and true’ tactics from 2019 might not work now.
Here are the top marketing resources to cut through the noise of too much content and combat consumer fatigue:
Consumers today are busy – they’re working, browsing, downloading, reading, and posting online, often at the same time. Most of this behavior is passive – people scan text, glance at a photo, and make a quick decision to ‘like’, ‘follow’ or hit the ‘x’ to close the window. Flashing adverts and spontaneous pop-ups are treated with indifference, not to mention, the rise of ad blockers has threatened many companies’ main source of revenue.
A great marketing alternative is surveys and quizzes because they establish a two-way dialogue between consumers and brands. Humans also have an innate desire to learn about themselves, they want to know what categories they fit into, who they are most similar to, and what their actions say about them. More importantly, they love sharing these insights with friends and family, which is essentially a free form of marketing. In fact, only a few years ago, nine out of the ten most-shared Facebook publications were quizzes.
There are a few key things to remember when designing a survey or quiz. First, keep it short and simple, offer three or four options per question, and check it doesn’t take longer than three minutes to complete. Then, ensure the title is interesting and written in the second person (‘Which ‘Friends’ character are you?’, ‘What does your email inbox say about your personality?’). Likewise, the results should be funny or clever for consumers to feel compelled to share them on social media.
Naturally, companies need to stay true to their brand when creating a survey or quiz – if a construction firm shares quizzes about cooking, it won’t get much traction. Instead, it’s best to experiment with creative ideas and test them on colleagues or friends, then go with what resonates the most.
For a relatively new player on the social media scene, TikTok has risen to new heights in a small space of time. The platform for short-form videos has over 500 million active monthly users and a primary demographic of 16 to 24 year-olds. For companies, the younger audience is an opportunity to gain consumers’ attention early on and establish lifelong relationships.
What works about TikTok is its no-frills style – companies simply need an account, a phone, and a story – the more ‘real’ a video is, the better it tends to perform. And while viral whacky content can dominate, formal companies like The Washington Post and the World Health Organization (WHO) use TikTok to repurpose their content and get fantastic responses. The Washington Post shares digestible commentaries on global events, while the WHO has been uploading videos about how to correctly wear a mask during COVID-19. By switching from traditional formats into trendy, short videos, businesses on TikTok can offer consumers a new way to process information.
TikTok additionally hosts hashtag challenges, where brands ask followers to recreate content and share it with a certain hashtag. Similar to quizzes, the challenge helps designate brand ambassadors and boost general brand awareness, while incentivizing consumers to take action. For example, in 2019, Chipotle launched the #GuacDance challenge, asking users to record themselves dancing on National Avocado Day. The campaign received 250,000 video submissions and 430 million video starts across six days, making it one of the best-performing challenges in the United States.
COVID-19 has forced many offline events around the world and across industries to go online. The move has been a telling experiment on how to provide real value for attendees and successfully market in the digital age. Some virtual events are actually seeing higher guest numbers because people aren’t bound by travel and logistics – they simply hit a button and are connected.
Virtual events are ideal to break the monotony of more mundane consumer marketing techniques because they can be completely customized, as well as focus on a niche topic or discussion. To learn, contribute, and network are some of the top reasons consumers join virtual events, so companies can easily orient events to meet these preferences. Features like having a well-known guest speaker, presenting unique research or hosting an ‘Ask Me Anything’ with the CEO, reinforce a more personal and rewarding relationship between the consumer and brand.
For example, earlier this year the cloud software giant Okta held its first virtual event for IT professionals, product leaders, and developers. To facilitate maximum engagement, the event had a virtual lobby for attendees to gather in between sessions (rather than leave and return) and socialize, as well as a competition where guests received points for joining talks and visiting sponsor booths. The people with the most points were then entered into a prize draw. Not only was Okta able to make tech-heavy topics captivating, it also generated an active community of consumers.
Consumer fatigue is real. People are wise to the ways that companies communicate with them, and even smarter about how they respond. Simply flashing a logo or writing a ‘how to’ blog post won’t cut it anymore. To stay relevant and successful, companies have to be conscious of how consumer behavior is changing and offer genuine value – like appealing to peoples’ egos, delivering content in a condensed form, and giving audiences the tools to learn.
Done right, smart and engaging content can break through the noise and be the alarm clock for today’s tired consumers.