How do you avoid your content becoming “white noise?”
In an information-rich society, attention is a limited resource, and marketing has become more difficult. Consumers have developed coping mechanisms to ignore and filter irrelevant information in order to prevent becoming overwhelmed in their daily lives. The younger generation that has grown up in this noisy environment, Gen Y and even more so Gen Z, are particularly talented at filtering out distractions. This aversion to advertising is troubling for brands looking to speak to their younger customers.
We call customers who are glued to their connected devices Mobile Zombies. At Shikatani Lacroix, we recently conducted a study on how to engage the mobile zombie generation. In this study, we wanted to determine how retail customers use their smartphones in relation to shopping and banking and what kind of information they seek. We also wanted to find out how we can engage with customers in a positive way, helping drive key marketing efforts, when most customers are preoccupied with their smartphones and what the role of the right digital signage content could be to help achieve this. This generation is so intrinsically tied to their devices that they ignore their own security and social grace while using their smartphones. The challenge is how to effectively disrupt or better leverage this relationship between devices and people in a way that will provide a positive experience for both customers and brands and not allow the digital signage content to be de-selected as secondary “white noise.”
Fortunately, our research demonstrates that these consumers aren’t a lost cause. Most of them would happily engage with your signage if you gave them a good enough reason to look up from their devices. It’s important to integrate digital experiences into the physical environment. The location and the message are customer-facing, so they should effectively help build the customer journey and enhance the path to purchase. The content or message, if created properly, allows the customer to emotionally connect to the brand at a deeper level, and ultimately make them look up, drive purchases or meet other desired business objectives.
The following are a few possible content strategies to better connect with today’s customers and hold their attention through different types of content mixes:
- Offer educational information
Educational content is a great way to engage with young customers. In finance for example, knowledge can sometimes be lacking. In a 2015 study by Bank of America, 41 percent of Millennials reported being chronically stressed by their finances. In response to this information, Bank of America developed a set of financial tools called “Better Money Habits” to help educate customers. However, it is important to remember to keep things light and simple.Otherwise, your customers may become overwhelmed.
Matching marketing to Millennial lifestyles, values, needs and communication styles can help better connect with this younger generation of customers. It is a difficult challenge as many members of this group have become highly skeptical of content marketing and have developed ways to avoid irrelevant and unauthentic communications. Yet, if communicated to effectively, this generation of customers represents a tremendous opportunity for brand growth and loyalty into the future.
- Strive to do good
Millennials often want to support brands that improve the world in some way. In a 2016 study by Fortune, Millennials reported that they would be more likely to work for, buy products from and recommend a company that gave to charity. In a 2014 study, 75 percent of Millennials reported that they think it is fairly or very important that a company gives back to society rather than just making a profit. Vancity Credit Union uses this marketing approach with the tagline “Make good money” to communicate the message that it supports the local community. It also positions itself as “values-based banking” and emphasizes “members helping members” in their messaging. Including community involvement messaging as part of the content mix is a good way for content to help “sell without selling.”
- Be authentic
Millennials see through corporate strategies and tend to look for genuine content messaging from brands that sound like a real human. Forty-three percent of Millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news. Trying to stretch your brand too far or supporting a cause that does not fit with your brand identity may come across as unauthentic and cause the younger generation to turn away. For example, a serious brand acting playful or vice versa may be taken as a calculated action and make skeptical customers wary of your intentions.
- Create share-worthy content
Content that is unique has the potential to spread quickly among Millennial social networks and online. Unique could mean witty, funny, emotional or inspiring. It should prioritize good design and visuals. Tangerine’s latest advertisement about how hard customers work for their money captures these elements. It uses an emotional approach that communicates its message that Tangerine works hard for your money as well.
The right content mix can help bring a brand to life and create deeper, emotional customer engagement that is fully integrated into the path to purchase. This can help content be noticed and attract, engage and retain customers and help avoid content becoming “white noise” that is de-selected.