Building online customer relationship
JUST FOR a moment, I’d like everyone to take off their advertising hat and become a consumer, with passions, needs and preferences. Think about a brand which you feel a particular connection with, one that helps you fill a need in your life. Not only that, it has to be one that has stood out from the competition because of the creative messaging used to promote it so that it connected with you emotionally. In fact, you feel so strongly about this brand that you rave about it to your friends and family, because you want to share that feeling with them. These concepts that are common to all consumers — relevance, creativity, and a shared experience — encompass the core elements of storytelling. In an age when consumers are living more of their lives online, the Web has the ability to leverage them in a way that no other medium can, and advertisers should take advantage of the Web’s inherent advantages to develop stronger bonds between consumers and brands that affect purchase and usage behaviour.
Today, online advertisers have the ability to give consumers precisely the kind of content that they want, allowing them to match their messages to consumers’ behaviours and attitudes. With consumers acting as opted-in partners in this process, brands can responsibly capture and hold their attention by directly appealing to their specific attitudes and preferences. No matter how relevant a brand message is on the Web, an advertiser can only build long-term brand loyalty by telling the story in a creative way, evoking a core emotion — whether that is surprise, inspiration, laughter, nostalgia, or any other of a range of sentiments that touch consumers on deeper, more personal levels. Today’s innovative online ad formats enable advertisers to wow consumers on a whole new level. Whether it is through an ad that uses the entirety of the digital canvas, a branded entertainment series that wraps a compelling theme around the brand, or a rich media, interactive mobile ad, advertisers have a shiny new set of tools that allow them to tell better stories.
Of course, the experience of any good story is always enhanced when you are able to share it with others. When consumers do so, on the Web, they become “evangelists,” tying them in on a deep level with the brand. The recipients of this shared story are then more likely to put their trust into the brand because of those personal connections. Brands today are not only giving consumers the option to share these stories, but to do so creatively, through methods running the gamut from user-generated video to a personalized avatar displayed to friends to the more traditional status update. This creativity in sharing makes the brand message all the more powerful.
Advertisers that look to the Web to bring brands alive and ultimately, positively impact consumer behaviour, realize that to be truly effective, they need to complement high-level storytelling with the equally necessary education about specific product features. A smart advertiser will use the Web to present this kind of practical information in creative, easy-to-digest, on-demand fashion, enhancing the overall brand story and increasing the likelihood of purchase or usage. Buy-in on the emotional level is cemented when the consumer has confidence in the brand’s products, and both elements need to work together to affect consumer behaviour.
Advertisers have learned that they can evoke emotion from online campaigns by telling the right kind of stories about their brands. No other medium combines the customisability, creativity, interactivity and shareability to create a powerful brand story the way that online does. The online medium allows brands to “activate” consumers in a variety of engaging ways across the screens of their lives, influencing both consumer attitudes and behaviours.