How to Engage Consumers — Tips From Companies that Are Crushing It Online
Customer loyalty is one of the most valuable assets a consumer goods brand can have. But with the rise of the digital marketplace and the high expectations of tech-savvy, social-media focused consumers, the way you earn and keep that loyalty these days is quite different from the way it used to be. Traditional marketing methods relied on consumers passively accepting whatever brands wanted to say. A few advertisements, a catchy jingle, an occasional sale, and the marketing department’s job was done. Not anymore. Marketing is now a two-way street with consumers in the driver’s seat and brands listening to and engaging with those consumers on a variety of platforms.
Meeting the expectations of a more demanding public requires brands to deliver high-quality content marketing: strategic online material that is relevant, up-to-date, and valuable to their desired demographic. Because consumers have more sources of information than ever thanks to the internet, in order to engage their interest, brands must not only offer online content but also content that outshines many competitors in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Here are three tips to strengthen your brand by engaging consumers through meaningful content marketing, as well as examples from two companies that are doing it right.
1. Add value by blogging
It’s 2016 and content marketing has proved it’s here to stay. One of the key elements in this new landscape is a company blog. If you don’t have one, you need one, and if you do have one, you need to be making the most of it. Why are blogs to necessary and what do we mean by making the most of it? Blogs, when done right, are not about selling, but about using content to add value for consumers and to enhance your customer relationships.
In this context, however, “value” isn’t about offering a discount. Discounts are one-off events and don’t create ongoing interest. Adding value in today’s world means creating informative posts that answer questions, offer tips, and share inspiring ideas. Blog posts shouldn’t sell — they should explain, inform, and show potential buyers how your brand can be a part of their lives.
2. Be smart about social media
Social media can provide powerful tools for brands. By liking, retweeting, reposting, or otherwise sharing your content, your customers provide some of the best word-of-mouth (or word-of-screen!) advertising you can get. Social platforms are arguably the spaces where the connection between consumer choices and lifestyle choices are the strongest: People show their friends, followers, and connections something about themselves when they engage with your brand.
The ease with which consumers disseminate online information, combined with the speed at which online gaffes can become embarrassing marketing setbacks, means that you need be savvy about your social updates. If you want your content to be shared, it needs to fit both the platform and your intended audience, so your content must be fact-checked and carefully crafted for appropriate language and content. Getting the pragmatics right — like finding the right tone and knowing how often you should update — is nearly as important as having the right content. And don’t forget to keep a steady stream of updates coming every day.
3. Create a community of insiders
Consumers make choices based on a number of factors, including lifestyle choices. Above all, they make purchasing choices based not on how they live, but on how they’d like to live. These “lifestyle aspirations” have been found by market research to be one of the most powerful motivations for purchasing anything. In your blog posts and social media updates, make it clear to your readers that your brand is the right choice for people like them — or for the people they’d like to be — by creating a community around your products that’s defined by shared aesthetic or lifestyle values.
Two companies hitting the ball out of the park
A company that provides exceptionally high-value blog content is Stonyfield Farms. Targeting health-conscious consumers who care about the food they eat, the health and environmentally conscious dairy farm business has a lifestyle-oriented blog that includes food tips, book reviews, recipes, and answers to common nutritional questions (think “when can my baby start eating yogurt?”). All of this makes the Stonyfield Farms blog valuable and relevant to its customers, encouraging them to rely on the blog as an online resource, while keeping their brand front-of-mind when shoppers hit the dairy aisle.
Coca-Cola does a remarkable job of leveraging its customers’ rich and varied cultural experiences within the context of its iconic product. The Coca-Cola website showcases Coke drinkers’ stories, pictures, and videos through multimedia slides featured on a section of its website titled “Coca-Cola Journey.” The collage of images and anecdotes creates an immersive, visually appealing online experience that suggests an active and engaged community celebrating the product’s place in their diverse lives. Links to Coca-Cola’s community initiatives are prominently displayed near upbeat local interest stories depicting writers’ fond memories of Coca-Cola around the world. The product is portrayed again and again as a party staple, a fixture in life’s most memorable occasions. The communities are geographically diverse, yet the Coca-Cola brand is the constant in every anecdote. The lifestyle stories demonstrate that the brand draws people of all walks together.
Ready to take your brand to the next level? Sign up for free, no-obligation access to our platform today. We would love to help you engage your customers and attract new ones with high-value content, community interaction, and social media savvy.