What makes clever advertising effective?

On March 29, 2016

There are many ways businesses can hook consumer interest in their marketing campaigns. From tugging at the heartstrings to tickling a funny bone, the more interesting content is, the more likely it is to promote engagement.

However, there are new challenges for marketers looking to champion clever content, especially in the digital space. As online content is a major part of any omnichannel marketing strategy, it's important to know how an audience reacts to campaigns with different moods, and whether or not there's still value in more light-hearted content.

Clever content needs to grab audiences quickly

Marketers who are used to digital communication will be aware of what consumers expect from these channels. Speed is essential and modern audiences are adept at avoiding content they don't want to see, adding further challenges for organisations.

Clever ads can suffer in the competitive online space.

A recent study from the University of Maryland found that clever advertisements can suffer in the competitive and cluttered online space. The longer it takes for a message to take hold, the the more organisations risk people disengaging. The unfortunate reality of these trends is that nuanced communications that has been central to traditional advertising for so long are often avoided, despite the fact these can be some of the most arduous to create.

According to Professor Michel Wedel, these problems often arise due to a disconnect between the way businesses test their advertising content and they way audiences tend to respond. The researchers found that clever ads  work best if they have time to sink in, one where there's plenty of opportunity for any jokes or nuance to be picked up. 

However, researchers noted that few pieces of online content are actually afforded this amount of attention. Instead, initial glimpses can be as short as 100 milliseconds. In some cases, people even try and avoid looking at ads altogether.

What do potential customers see?

The above example of a discrepancy between the way content is created and the manner in which it is viewed reveals that many organisations are not taking into account the way their audience sees the world. McKinsey & Company recently focussed on the importance of understanding the customer journey and how this impacts consumers' overall satisfaction with a business.

According to the firm, customer engagement within a business extends well before and well after the moment of purchase. Understanding that there's a series of steps between initial discovery and purchase, and more afterwards, is important, especially when it comes to distributing content through mailing lists to kick-start the process.

McKinsey & Company also noted that organisations need to see both the bigger picture and the individual steps needed to get there. In an example offered by the firm, an unnamed organisation had a number of touchpoints throughout the customer journey, all of which had a 90 per cent satisfaction rate individually. Overall, however, just 40 per cent of customers found the process valuable, as the sheer number of touchpoints, coupled with increasing complexity, all combined to create an overwhelming and inconsistent process.

With mailing lists, businesses gain a significant degree of control over some of these early touchpoints, and can ensure the first contact people have in their journey is a positive one.

Where does the customer journey begin?
Where does the customer journey begin?

It's okay to not be funny

Most marketers will have seen what happens when a humourous piece of marketing content goes viral, and many will be keen to reenact these events themselves. However, Ogilvy PR found that businesses often get lost in the appeal of going viral and miss the point of creating marketing content in the first place.

While going viral no doubt has its advantages in terms of finding new audiences, Ogilvy PR believes that creating a continuous amount of quality content is often just as valuable.

To find out more about communicating with your customers, contact the team at The Prospect Shop. 

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