“The brands that will succeed today will focus on brand building and increasing their equity with customers vs. focusing solely on reach, clicks and eyeballs”, says Sarah Dale, CRO, Nativo in an exclusive interview with TalkCMO.
TCMO Bureau: What are the major struggles that brands face while trying to make meaningful connections with their customers?
Sarah Dale: With the increased sensitivity around customer privacy and shifts in both media consumption habits and purchasing behaviors due to the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic, brands are faced with major, existential changes to how they are perceived and valued by customers.
Customers have the luxury of choice at their fingertips. They have realized the power of the choice they’re making with their dollars. They want to support brands that align not just with their immediate needs but also with their larger concerns and interests. This makes it harder than ever for brands to differentiate and build meaningful connections with customers.
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Pair that with the concerns around customer privacy and the depreciation of the third-party cookie, and now brands also face challenges with reaching their target audiences with the most relevant messages at the right time. One way customers can get over these challenges is by leaning into branded content where they have a unique opportunity to really engage their customers.
TCMO Bureau: What are the steps brands can take to build a better customer journey?
Sarah Dale: The customer journey from awareness to consideration to purchase remains a constant, but how customers address the consideration phase has changed significantly in recent years, and especially since the pandemic.
Customers care about the reputation, trustworthiness, and social impact of a brand. Therefore, brands should consider ways to build more meaningful connections with them and deliver on a better customer journey that drives purchases. For instance:
Leverage the power of your community
Reddit only had five seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl, and they made it count. Their copy nailed it: “Powerful things happen when people rally around something they care about.” Showing consumers why they should want to be a part of the brand is more effective than any product placement.
A connection to a community of like-minded people is seen as an incredible value by customers, especially when people are feeling disconnected and solitary.
Focus on your brand’s social contributions
Ford and Toyota’s Super Bowl ads forewent any focus on vehicles and instead showed stories of frontline workers and Olympic hopefuls, communicating their brands’ reputational legacies and highlighting their contributions to society at large.
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Successful brands are ensuring their companies are giving back in ways that are important to their customer base and using branded content to showcase the work they feel matters.
Measure brand equity vs. eyeballs
Advertising no longer exists outside the brand, as an appendage: as a frequent touchstone for the customer, every advertising piece needs to map back to the brand. Branded content allows brands to offer value and build meaningful connections through education, entertainment, and quality, while also delivering a truly seamless, non-interruptive and relevant experience.
The brands that will succeed today will focus on brand building and increasing their equity with customers vs. focusing solely on reach, clicks and eyeballs.
TCMO Bureau: How can brands enrich their monetization practices without intruding on their customer’s privacy?
Sarah Dale: There is a value exchange that exists between brands and customers, and that is something that brands should prioritize now that their customers are more savvy and protective of their privacy and data.
It’s no longer sufficient that advertising ‘funds’ a free and open web. Customers expect and require more, so it’s important for brands to prioritize their brand-building and content strategies to build meaningful connections with customers.
This also means a shift in how brands are measuring campaign performance. With the focus on customer privacy and the elimination of the 3rd party cookie, measuring campaign performance based on reach and click-through rate (CTR) is not going to cut it. Soon you won’t be able to track customers across sites, so focusing on performance metrics that illustrate engagement and favorability, such as time spent, purchase intent and intent to recommend, will be better indicators for building brand equity, loyalty and ultimately, purchases.
TCMO Bureau: According to you, how will B2B advertising transform in the coming years?
Sarah Dale: During the pandemic, B2B brands have shifted their ways of engaging and interacting with their customers and prospects. The focus moved away from constantly talking about benefits and features and really honing in on the customer experience with more branded touch points related to education, knowledge sharing and community building. The increase in B2B illustrated this focused webinars, expert speaker series, branded newsletters, podcasts and an increase in community building and forums for customers to communicate and share knowledge–enter Clubhouse.
Even post-pandemic, I don’t anticipate any of these tactics tapering off. B2B brands have found that focusing their efforts on creating and distributing great content has helped them to build brand equity and loyalty among their customer base, and ultimately, create meaningful connections with their customers.
Sarah Dale serves as the Chief Revenue Officer at Nativo, the premier content technology platform, where she oversees the company’s data insights and customer success divisions. Sarah brings to Nativo a successful track record in content, having previously worked with large publishers, digital start-ups and content consultancies. Before joining Nativo, Sarah spent nearly ten years at The Wall Street Journal in sales and digital, ultimately leading the content studio to produce programs like Cocainenomics (Netflix) and Feeding America (Mini). Sarah has been a part of many award-winning initiatives and currently holds two Cannes Lions and D&AD Pencils.