The breakdown of the traditional marketing model is not news, but the pressure test of quarantine, unemployment and economic uncertainty have made this inconvenient truth painfully apparent. With confidence eclipsed by concern, and loyalty taking a back seat to safety and necessity, brands are struggling more than ever to create and direct meaningful customer engagement pathways.
The zeitgeist has shifted – potentially irreparably – and the modern CMO must act cautiously but strategically to meet the needs and expectations of consumers as it shifts, whilst also looking to drive authentic engagement to pick up the pandemic slack.
Building an Authentic Engagement Strategy which moves with the Zeitgeist
Now, more than ever, you need to reach out and find your audience where they are. As you might expect, since the start of the year our reliance on digital resources has skyrocketed and this is no clearer than in our adoption of social media. During March for example, Twitter use soared to 164 million users, an increase of 12 million from the previous quarter and a 23% jump from a year earlier.
People lack physical engagement and consequently, digital has become the next best thing. In a world where going outside and engaging with a brand feels like a distant memory, marketing departments must be stepping in to remind us of what we are missing and possibly even provide a meaningful alternative.
What is an Authentic Engagement Strategy?
An authentic engagement strategy helps you to reach out and attempting to make a sincere and genuine connection with the consumer through affecting content, campaigns, social media, and marketing management. However, according to the current state of the market, it’s still something that businesses are struggling with.
Based on research from Stackla, 57% of consumers believe less than half of all brands actually offer meaningful, authentic content. And 60% say content from friends or family influences their purchase decisions, while just 23% say content from celebrities and influencers are impactful.
At the same time, and according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, brand trust has never been harder to earn, with the trust finding that only 34% of consumers have trust in the brands they use during 2020.
Authenticity has Changed
The reality of the matter is this, if the zeitgeist is shifting, so too is what we regard as authentic. Customers are simply not interested in pushiness at this time, when they do engage with advertising, they are looking for messages which either emphasize their security and safety or aligns with their values and priorities. Below, we can see two of the ways in which authenticity has shifted.
Prior to the pandemic we regarded celebrities as tastemakers and thought leaders but in the post-pandemic, celebrity campaigns are becoming less and less effective – perhaps even inappropriate in their scope and tone. Consumers are struggling and as a result, they’re finding it increasingly insulting to be prevailed upon by someone who is significantly removed from the pressures of lockdown living.
The degrees of separation between the consumer and the influencer are slighter than those which separate us from celebrities and consequently, these types of campaigns have seen a significant boost as the year has progressed. Influencers feel like normal people, in most cases they are, and when someone speaks colloquially in the manner of a friend or family member, that matters.
As discussed, authenticity has shifted along with the zeitgeist. The physical distance separating all of us means that consumers are especially wary of how they feel when approached by a brand so your messaging needs to be just right. Understand your consumer, empathize with them and they, in turn, will do the same when interacting with your brand. Failure to do so could be costly.
Continue the debate at the CMO Insight Summit, a GDS Summit, where we bring together senior marketing executives who are actively seeking to share, learn, engage, and find the best solutions.
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