The current industry problem
The majority of big brands know very little about ATL-aligned digital brand lift strategies, and that they can cement and amplify longevity in brand lift through quantifiable, trackable, exploitable data, generating brand lift that is not limited to the campaign alone.
Let’s look at this as a relationship. For argument’s sake, the lack of digital brand lift in online promotions or campaigns is sharply akin to a one-night stand, and the consumer is the ‘one-night stand’. The digital campaigns that activate will only ever be a fly-by-night; the one-of-a-kind prizes brands offer are data points such as the opt-in, collected on the basis of the consumer’s interactions for remarketing. The one-night stand in its infinite glory.
What is not well-known by most is that, statistically, online competitions and promotions have no genuine consumer-data value at all. After a competition or promo win, winners may have zero intention of buying the product nor converting to brand only because they won; their goal could purely be “free stuff”. Competition triathletes are a breed of online users, and of social media platforms especially, who are growing faster than we data-junkies care to admit. However, this tiny bit of data facilitates the understanding that changes the ball game considerably. It boils down to this:
Brands are probably buying into false online-engagement data and success metrics, limiting the true velocity of digital brand lift and resulting brand identity/loyalty achieved long after the campaign ends. When applying this to brand campaigns and brand content, it’s clear we have a hit-and-miss.
Often consumers who’ve been profiled and captured are only ever exposed to the brand the next time the brand decides to do a campaign. The consumers have been segmented and profiled; 12 months later, the brand tries to reignite the same data assets, not once considering that the consumers probably disengaged when the last campaign ended, as no digital brand lift strategy existed to keep them interested and neither value in between campaigns was offered nor attempts to forge stronger interactions or identity association.
What does this mean?
A sweet spot has been forming with digital brand lift and identity loyalty or identity association, and that consumer brand-identity loyalty/association is forged through longevity and continuum of active engagement long after the campaign ends. Primarily, in the digital arena, we achieve digital brand lift and identity loyalty specifically through optimised content-marketing efforts in social media to activate positive growth and/or upward shift in consumers’ perception and brand awareness.
Identity loyalty or brand identity association is easily explained: Think of that one brand you believe in, not one you merely like or subscribe to but one you recommend to those you love, knowing the brand will follow through and cement your loyalty. Got that brand in your head?
Identity loyalty, however, does not happen by accident, nor is it an out-of-the-box application. For it to work, brands need to be highly data-proficient, maximising data strategically and using it to facilitate connections with aligned consumers. Once achieved, a marketing oasis is created with customers who ally with brand, and as long as the brand identity is clear, concise and clearly outlines the brand’s values and ideals consistently through content marketing, for example, it can attract devoted consumers like bees to flowers.
Ford, Harley Davidson, Apple, Air Jordan and Nike have all perfected this. Let’s evaluate a Nike Women campaign that is nailing it with viral video and developing exceptionally strong identity loyalty and brand lift. Called #betterforit, this is the story of Margot and Lily. “Two sisters — total opposites — make a bet that pushes them both way outside their comfort zones. One is a fitness YouTube celebrity with no friends, and one a rebel with no clue but loads of friends…”
What’s most interesting with this campaign is the digital brand lift strategy:
- To facilitate and entice consumers to buy outfits worn in the YouTube episode
- To promote the download of the latest workout
- To activate the NIKE Training Club (NTC) mobile app
- To connect coaches and experts to consumers embarking on this challenge, and for consumers to easily get the advice they need to get #betterforit
Digital brand campaigns can be data-rich and insight-poor, lacking the understanding that social-media and brand-lift strategies are not an ATL output. ATL-type campaigns in social media are the very reason Google and Facebook have algorithms that attack brand spam. Social media is as personal as it gets with a consumer — it’s as close as you will ever be. Identity loyalty is forged here, by clear communication of your values, by aligning with the consumer’s identity. Identity loyalty and brand lift (ad recall) are totally within your control, and may be amplified to achieve specific outcomes. Things don’t just happen; it’s a discipline designed to get specific long-term results.
If brands are going to compete for the online space and the online consumer, as detailed in my previous column, then it makes sense to start focusing upon the things that matter, such as digital brand lift, to drive brand entrenchment two years down the road.