Technology has transformed all facets of society, from the way people work, to the way they communicate with friends and family, to the way they consume entertainment. While nearly every element of the day-to-day experience is now reliant on technology, perhaps no activity has been more greatly upended than the way people interact with brands. Mobile devices, in particular, have proven to be more than a channel consideration, rather, they have fundamentally shifted how consumers research and validate products and travel destinations, as well as how they engage with brands throughout the entirety of their customer lifecycles. Concurrently, social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest have continued to emerge and evolve, as users create and share visual content on behalf of brands they love, and search for visual inspiration on new products and destinations that may match their unique lifestyles and value-sets.
For marketers, succeeding in this new normal requires a, well, new approach. Namely, brands must adopt a holistic visual content strategy to capture the attention of audiences and build long-lasting relationships with them. Marketing teams need to implement a variety of additional creative elements to help craft more compelling stories and drive action, such as user-generated, or “earned” content, influencer marketing, and short-form, or “mobile-first,” video. In short, the relationship between consumers and brands has changed, and smart marketers are changing their content mix to fit a new paradigm.
To be sure, mobile and social ubiquity have profoundly impacted the brand-consumer relationship in three primary ways:
- Consumers have granted an unprecedented amount of access to personal information. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 67% of consumers surveyed find it either fully acceptable or acceptable with contingency (“it depends”) for a retail store to track shopping behavior if it also gives store discounts. Another study from UPenn’s Annenberg School for Communication suggests that consumers’ willingness to share information may be due to “resignation,” believing that brands will access the information anyway. “[The study] finds that most Americans disclose their personal data to companies for discounts because they believe that marketers will harvest the data anyway.”
- Consumers expect brands to deliver consistent, personalized experiences. Regardless of the motivation for sharing information, today’s consumers expect that by giving up access to their behaviors, interests, and preferences, brands will use that information to deliver truly personalized experiences. According to a study by Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.
- Consumers demand frictionless buying opportunities, hoping to reduce the path from inspiration to purchase. With more consumer touch points, the path to purchase has become somewhat challenging. In a world where consumers operate in real-time, they have no patience for buying experiences that require an abundance of effort on their part. In fact, according to the Checkout Conversion Index, published by PYMNTS.com, nearly $160 billion in estimated revenue was lost in 2016 as a result of purchase friction, in the United States alone.
With increased competition globally, the rise of direct-to-consumer brands across verticals, and the ever-present (and rapidly growing) threat of Amazon, brands are rightfully looking for ways to stand out from the crowd, deliver on consumer expectations, and craft visual experiences that are powerful and that will boost engagement and revenue. Fortunately, at Olapic, we have worked with hundreds of the world’s leading brands to help them scale visual content creation, regain trust through authenticity, and co-create experiences with their customers. Through our work, we’ve identified three pillars to a successful holistic visual content strategy:
- Consumer Content: User-generated, or “earned,” content has become enormously valuable to brands, as consumers are turning to one another for product inspiration at all moments throughout the buying journey. By curating and activating earned content, brands not only can co-create experiences alongside their customers, but can scale content creation and personalization for a reasonable cost.
- Influencer Content: Influencers and creator networks have emerged in recent years as consumers turn to like-minded tastemakers on social channels for inspiration and guidance. Brands have an opportunity to scale content creation with these audiences while also taking advantage of a boost in reach to consumer segments that are highly aligned with the brand promise.
- Brand Content: Historically, brands have worked with agencies and in-house creative teams to develop owned content for use in advertising and other messaging. While these resources are still applicable, the content formats required to reach audiences have expanded greatly, including short-form, mobile-first video for use on ephemeral social channels and beyond.
Many brands are already activating in one or more of these pillars (certainly, in “owned content” at the very least). Still, remember that scaling creation of high-quality content that can produce truly personalized experiences can be expensive and time-intensive. To succeed, marketers need a cohesive, efficient strategy and technology to help them manage processes and analyze performance for continued optimization.
This is an excerpt from Olapic’s new strategy guide, “The New Content Paradigm: How to Develop a Holistic Visual Approach.” To download a complimentary copy of the full report, click here.
1. Raine, Lee and Maeve Duggan. “Privacy and Information Sharing.” Pew Research Center 1.14.16
2. Turow, Joseph and Michael Hennessy and Nora Draper. “The Tradeoff Fallacy: How Marketers are Misrepresenting American Consumers and Opening Them Up to Exploitation.” University of Pennsylvania. 6/15
3. “Personalization Pulse Check.” Accenture Interactive. 2016.