As marketers, we are under no illusions that consumers truly trust us. Decades of Slap Chop hawking infomercials and pushy marketing messages have effectively undermined the credibility of marketing for most consumers, and who can really blame them.
Consumers are instead turning to their peers for recommendations, reviews, and endorsements. According to new research from shopper-focused influencer marketing firm Collective Bias, millennials even prefer peer recommendations to those from celebrities. Close to a third of consumers report that they are more likely to purchase a product that has been endorsed by a blogger than a celebrity. Of that number that prefer non-celebrity endorsements, 70 percent of 18-to-34 year olds had the highest preference for peer endorsement.
And it wasn’t just celebrity endorsements that were losing their effectiveness. TV (7.4 percent), print (4.7 percent) and digital (4.5 percent) advertisements all took hits among respondents. Once mainstays of any marketing strategy, they now rank among the least influential forms of communication when shopping for products.
It is clear that traditional channels and endorsements hold little sway over today’s consumers. Marketers need to instead embrace new channels and new technology.
The New Battlefield: Mobile
While traditional marketing channels flounder, mobile is thriving. Consider the following:
- Before making a purchase, consumers consult blogs and social media on their mobile devices. According to Collective Bias, nearly 60 percent of survey respondents have been influenced by a blog review or social media post that they viewed on a smartphone while shopping in-store.
- Social and video are the most persuasive channels. About 19 percent of consumers surveyed reported that Facebook influenced their purchasing decision most, while YouTube was a close second with nearly 18 percent. Both channels are consumed primarily on mobile devices.
So how can marketers take advantage of this trend towards mobile influence and advocacy? Marketers need to fully embrace mobile as a major channel in their retail strategy. Here are a few things to consider.
A Mobile Advocacy Strategy
When considering mobile channels for your advocacy programs, there are three things to consider: where you deliver messages, when those messages are delivered, and how you engage with consumers. Since consumers tend to have their mobile devices with them at all times, mobile gives you more control and precision over all of these factors than traditional channels.
In-App and Push
First, you need to decide which channels you will use to reach your customers. While nearly 80% of emails are now opened on a mobile device according to research from Kahuna, they are often not read at the moment they are received. This makes email a good interim mobile channel, but certainly not the best at your disposal.
If you have a mobile app (and you should!) consider in-app and push messages. These messages are delivered right to the home screen or open app of your users, demanding immediate attention and driving immediate action. If you know a consumer is close to purchasing a product, send them a push message touting the reviews of that product. If they are using your app to consider a product, use in-app messaging to steer them toward the most highly reviewed or recommended product.
Whether you are using email, in-app, or push messages, the timing of your messages ultimately determines their value. A message regarding a product review does no good after a consumer has purchased it or a similar product. You need an engagement platform that provides a complete view of your customer, what they like, the channels they prefer, and when they are most active. This allows you to tailor each message to the individual at the time they prefer.
For advocacy and influence though, you need more immediate, triggered messages. When a user opens your app to browse a particular product for example, that is an opportune time to steer them toward favorable reviews.
Mobile is not just about influencing customers with advocacy. Mobile channels can also be used to power your advocacy machine. After a purchase has been made, ask your users to review that product with a prompt via push notification or in-app message. With device in hand, users are more apt to follow through on the request via mobile than if it was received on another channel.
Like many other marketing tactics, traditional advocacy is failing. However, this does not mean advocacy is less effective, just that it needs to evolve along with consumers. And like many other tactics, that evolution involves marketers getting mobile.
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