Authentic Marketing: The New Age of Consumer Engagement
I am a BtoB marketer who markets and sells to BtoC brands. As such, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the similarities and differences in how businesses sell to businesses versus how brands sell to consumers. The purchase price is often bigger in BtoB and the sales cycle longer, but at the end of the day, the business buyer and the consumer are demanding the same thing: authenticity.
Business buyers desire and, quite frankly, demand to be educated BEFORE they even speak to a company. Where once we used to talk at our buyers, we are now talking with them and, more importantly, they are talking to each other. Business buyers are calling the shots.
This means companies are investing heavily in educating their buyer long before that buyer makes a purchase. They are investing in content that identifies a need or a challenge and provides a way to navigate and solve for that challenge. In the early stage of this education, if a company tries to sell their product or service, they will immediately lose their audience. If ,however, they invest in informing and educating their buyer around bigger ideas and themes over the course of the buyer’s journey, their buyer might just stay engaged long enough to hear the business pitch.
BtoC marketing is just beginning to experience this radical shift to consumer-led marketing. The consumer is dictating how they want to be marketed to, sold to, whom they trust, and when and how they’re going to show their own love for a brand. They are demanding that brands engage with them in more relevant and authentic ways, they are looking to their peers for recommendations, and they are choosing to “opt-out” of messages from brands that feel intrusive and aggressive, the exact opposite of relevant and authentic.
“The consumer is dictating how they want to be marketed to, sold to, whom they trust, and when and how they’re going to show their own love for a brand.”
Consumers are much more likely to purchase a product if they can see how that product impacts the lives of people similar to themselves. When an apparel brand spends hundreds and thousands of dollars on photos of 6’ 110 lb models wearing their clothing, or a home décor brand stages their furniture in a 4000 sq. foot mansion, or a hotel showcases only stylized professional photographs of their property, the consumer is left wondering what the clothing would look like on someone who is 5’4” and 125 lbs, how that credenza would look in their 400 sq foot apartment, and what the property really looks like (not to mention who, besides the perfectly fit, pearly white-toothed, bronzed couple, hang out there). More importantly, they aren’t pleased with the brands that tried to trick them into believing those experiences were authentic. Educated consumers of today expect more from the brands who serve them.
Put differently, the moment a business or a brand engages a buyer or a consumer in a negative way is the moment that buyer or consumer goes elsewhere.
So, how do marketers today embrace the consumer? By letting the consumer lead the conversation and then amplifying the consumer’s voice, using it to engage other like-minded consumers all along their path to purchase.
This is what true, authentic, customer-centric marketing is really about.
Today’s consumer lives in a highly fragmented world of multiple media formats and channels. But we have a choice as to what we want to see, hear, read, like, share, and so on. And we tune out anything that feels intrusive, irrelevant, or off-target.
Brands who take the time to listen and watch will actually learn from their customers’ behavior. Brands who establish genuine relationships with their customers will be the brands of the future.
At Olapic, we have a front row seat to how some of the biggest brands in the world are turning their happy customers into avid brand advocates.
New Balance’s large and engaged following enables them to generate a lot of social buzz – but the sports footwear brand was having a difficult time bringing that engagement back to its owned online property and e-commerce experience. Olapic worked with the brand to activate six hashtags, including #NEWBALANCE, #RUNNOVATION, #NBWOMEN, #LACEUP365, #MADEINUSA, and #NBTENNIS, creating the UGC campaign “Excellence in Action” to live on their homepage and gallery wall page. Since launching the program, New Balance has seen over 1,000,000 impressions and 300,000 interactions with UGC content on their site, with returning visitors engaging with 3x the rate of first-time visitors, a demonstration of how the content is influencing consumer purchase decisions, and how consumers identify with the lifestyle promoted through the campaign.
The iconic beauty brand was an early pioneer of online engagement, but was finding it difficult to weave owned content and earned content into a consistent digital experience. Olapic helped to launch a campaign around the idea “#MIRACLEONTHEMOVE,” which encouraged users to share pictures of themselves using their liquid foundation compact product, highlighting the busy and exciting lifestyles of their core customers.
Since the launch, the brand has experienced an overall 4% conversion uplift. While initially designed to boost engagement, Olapic analytics determined that users who interacted with the #MIRACLEONTHEMOVE gallery were at least 2x as likely to convert than those who didn’t. This campaign was an incredible example of authentic marketing, as Lancôme empowered consumers not only to contribute content to its marketing engine, but to celebrate their own authentic selves in the process.
NYX Cosmetics is one of the most savvy visual content marketing beauty brands in the world and boasts an almost cult-like online following that includes over 2.4 million followers on Instagram. The brand realizes that shopping for beauty products is difficult because of how many variables impact the buying decision, such as skin type, skin color, eye color, etc. So they engaged Olapic to help them leverage the brand’s loyal fan base to build a large media library of real, authentic images to give consumers an accurate idea of what its products look like on users with similar attributes. Through the implementation of our tool, NYX shoppers who engage with UGC on the site convert to customers at a rate 320% higher than shoppers who do not. In addition, shoppers interact with an average of 7 consumer-generated photos per visit, highlighting the utility of the tool on the consumer-end.