Knowing that personal relationships are key to brand longevity, smart marketers will look forward to a third year with COVID-19. For that, they’ll need to focus on building and maintaining trust with their audiences—as well as which channels to leverage in those efforts.
While it’s important for brands to maintain balanced marketing strategies, marketers should be mindful of consumer sentiment as they allocate their media spending. For example, SME’s 2021 Trust in Advertising study found that brand sponsorships are among the most trusted advertising sources among global consumers, yet most marketers don’t readily consider newer ad formats like brand integrations, sponsorships and product placements in their media planning. These marketing formats were viewed as irrelevant by almost 34% percent of the marketers who participated in our annual 2021 Marketing Report.
According to the report, significant growth in digital marketing spending, including search, email and social media, shows how crucial these channels are from a marketing perspective. Conversion-oriented digital marketing is attractive as it drives sales for the current quarter and not the following. The appeal of near-term sales—and the ability to measure the effort—serves to grow investments in these strategies. Marketers surveyed in the study believe that email, social media, and search are most efficient for their business.
The downside of focusing too heavily on these digital channels, however, is that our recent Trust in Advertising study found that consumers don’t consider these channels very trustworthy.
Marketers aimed to spend less on traditional channels than they did digitally. Marketers, on the other hand, stated only that they plan to spend 50% more on TV or AM/FM radio, while 4.23% said they will increase this spending by between 1%-49%. These channels are regarded as more trustworthy than other digital options from a perspective of consumer trust.
Marketing professionals often classify their efforts in brand building and conversion-driving as high-level goals. Then, they plan their channel strategies according to these categories. As they begin a new year planning their channel and spending strategies, marketers must keep in mind their primary goals.
Our Era of Adaptation report notes that marketers’ top objectives heading into the second half of 2021 were brand awareness (25%) and customer acquisition (42%), with customer retention carrying significantly less weight (19.6%). Marketers should focus on building brand awareness and brand building strategies for brands that have these objectives. They must also know which channels customers trust the most. The Brand Resonance whitepaper demonstrates that conversion-focused marketing strategies outperform many academic studies that state that higher-funnel is best for growth.
Debates about growth-building notwithstanding, marketers shouldn’t make assumptions when it comes to channel choice and expected sales impact. Marketers can learn how channel effectiveness affects long-term sales by studying the channel’s ability to drive awareness, as well as other metrics with latent sales benefits. For example, consumers believe that television is one of the most effective channels to make them aware about a brand. Yes, TV is, on average, one of the most effective channels for driving long-term sales lift, but every campaign is different—and so is the effectiveness of TV across them. In 25% of SME brand research, TV was found to be the channel with the worst long-term results. However, 25% of the respondents thought it was the most effective. The key message for marketers is this: Without measurement, your quest to achieve meaningful growth could ultimately rest on assumptions, generalizations, and gut feelings.
There is no discounting the effectiveness of leveraging digital channels to strengthen relationships with existing consumers, but it’s important that marketers seeking long-term growth consider consumer sentiment in addition to their martech stacks. When word-of-mouth is the most trusted channel among consumers—and has grown as such over time—marketers should be as people-focused as possible.