Will 2016 Be the Death of Ads, or an Ad-volution?

Every year boasts a variety of evangelizing articles proclaiming the death of advertising. As ad block adoption increases in power and number, so do the number of posts warning of the imminent demise of your brand promotions.

This isn’t one of those posts.

What if this wasn’t an ad death, but simply, an advolution? While the pervasive fact of 2015 may have been that adoption of ad block tech grew 48% in the U.S., this year also found that engaged customers are 4x more likely to say they appreciate when a brand reaches out to them directly and 7x more likely to always respond to the brand’s promotional offers, with 73% of consumers preferring to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

What these trends do indicate (and perhaps why the industry is all up in arms) is a fundamental shift in how brands and consumers interact, beyond the simple fact that brands now have to. With the emergence of consumers’ power in dictating how they engage online and with whom, brands now must consider the consumer experience as paramount to brand success.  And this is not just limited to brands alone – today, consumers can curate a news feed hierarchy of friends’ posts that rivals a middle school clique.

So how do consumers want to be engaged with and what can brands do about it?

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As people spend more and more of their waking hours on various forms of social media and technology, they are increasingly desensitized to traditional forms of advertisement. In fact, ad fatigue has become so commonplace that you are more likely to climb Mount Everest than you are to click on a banner ad. Inbound marketing strategies tackle ad fatigue to a degree, but no combination of a marketing teams’ blogging, tweeting or sharing can compete with the success that results in one of your consumers doing this for you.

People trust people more than ads. This has always been the case, but it has become increasingly relevant as our world has become inundated with paid advertisements. In response, influencer marketing has grown exponentially during the past year as a go-to strategy, with the emergence of one type of influencer in particular that succeeds in driving conversions on social media. Micro-influencers, more than any other type of influencer, bridge the gap between consumers and brands by powering human-to-human marketing at scale.

Micro-influencers are everyday consumers with 500-5K highly engaged followers around relevant topics. When empowered to distribute and amplify relevant brand content, micro-influencers’ posts receive higher levels of engagement from friends, resulting in authentic brand promotion.

For example, imagine Crossfit, a fitness trend that has spawned a highly passionate and engaged community who are famous for living and dying by the “Crossfit philosophy”: in other words, if you have friends who do Crossfit, they don’t let you forget it. So if you were a sneaker company looking to promote your latest model, harnessing the collective power of an army of Crossfitters to promote your brand would far outweigh the impact of one singular well-known influencer such as Michael Jordan, even though he has a greater reach. You want the influential everyday customers who have engaged reach around topics relevant to your brand, rather than the influencers who have huge a reach that isn’t engaged. Micro-influencers are your very own personalized army of always-on brand advocates, with the engaged reach and relevant influence to drive conversions for your business objectives.

Banner ad? Blocked. Your best friend’s Facebook post about how awesome her new running shoes are? Boom. Clicked.

They Clicked Your Offer. Now What?

You got the coveted click on your social post. Now, you need to make sure that you’re continuing to engage the consumer while moving them through the customer decision journey.

The answer? Value-based exchanges between brands and shoppers. In a value-based exchange, the brand offers a shopper something they want (a coupon, promo code, early access to a sale, etc.) in return for interacting with the brand. In these interactions, brands should be collecting consumer profiling data, learning more about the individual shopper, and personalizing his or her experience.

The best uses of value-based exchanges are backed by personalization – the campaign adapts as a consumer interacts with the brand. For example, a brand could offer a coupon for 15 percent off a new pair of running shoes if the shopper answers a few quick questions. The campaign adapts based on the shopper’s responses – if she answers that her favorite shoe color is blue, the brand can redirect her to a page of blue sneakers. The brand captures that data point for remarketing and loyalty marketing, and the consumer’s experience is personalized. Each subsequent question should contribute to her experience – the brand could ask about size, so she doesn’t see a shoe that’s out of stock in her size. The end goal in this kind of campaign is to continue the interactive engagement started by a good social media post while learning about the shopper and driving conversions. Engagement matters – engaged consumers buy 90 percent more frequently and spent 60 percent more per purchase.

In a campaign like the one outlined above, the brand could also personalize the reward based on shopper responses. Instead of offering a general 25 percent off discount, the brand could indicate that answering the questions will unlock a reward and then give her free Reebok socks with the purchase of her blue, size 7 Reebok sneakers.

Comparison to Industry Benchmarks

Let’s take a look at how these pre- and post-click efforts drive conversions. Without using influencers or a value-based exchange, conversion rates sit at about 1.85 percent for Facebook, 1.08 percent for Instagram, and 0.77 percent for Twitter:

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Using micro-influencers drives 200% return on investment, on average. That increase makes sense – 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people over branded content.

Value-based exchanges between brands and shoppers also increase conversion rates. In one campaign from Reebok, 20.1 percent of shoppers who claimed the discount made a purchase within one week of completing the campaign. In another, Warrior Sports saw a 9 percent increase in their conversion rate when using a value-based exchange in an interactive campaign.

Using micro-influencers and effective post-click marketing also boost your soft metrics. Email capture rates go up when connected to an interactive experience offering a reward, as do social referrals. An average landing page has an email capture rate of 2 percent. Reebok got a 61.3 percent email capture rate, while Warrior got a 46 percent email capture rate. Reebok also saw more than 2,500 social referrals in a single campaign. 

Keeping the authentic voice of social media via micro-influencers and providing shoppers with value-based exchanges in which they gain something desirable from a brand will boost conversion rates and enhance customers’ brand affinity in the long-term.

This post was co-created with Jebbit, a post-click marketing platform that powers thousands of interactive micro-content experiences for leading brands around the world.

To learn more about what Mavrck can do to help you rise above the noise with micro-influencer marketing, check out our Ultimate Guide to Micro-Influencer Marketing.