Thanks to big data, many marketers know who their customers are. That’s the first step to creating effective campaigns. The second is to connect with them and start building a relationship.
As most marketers know, this is easier said than done. And – surprise, surprise – the way to building a relationship goes beyond promoting your latest and greatest offer. Offers, even the ones that convert, are transactional in nature and do not lay a proper foundation for a budding customer relationship. Relevant content, on the other hand, can effectively speak to subscribers and position a brand as customer-centric. Customer centricity is a critical component of driving consistent engagement and increasing customer life-time value. But as a marketer, you are probably among the 73% who say that creating more engaging content is a top priority for their organization1…and with a good reason. According to research from Custom Content Council, 61% of consumers say they feel better about and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content.2
Great! But in many cases, marketers think that content is costly, slow and time-consuming to create; they think of a branded game, a mini movie, a curated blog or a custom video. The reality is that providing small nuggets of rich and relevant content in their email communications or social posts can be just as effective as an expensive video. Many brands don’t need an entire content team or a production house to achieve their goal of engaging with content; they can rely on neatly packaged and delivered non-transactional information. Ideally you should talk about something that’s meaningful to your audience, a value your brand shares with its customers or something interesting, useful or entertaining.
For example, did you know that September 29th was National Coffee Day? Well, several marketers used this casual event as a cornerstone of their marketing initiatives. Both brands that have everything to do with coffee and those that have a Kevin Bacon degree of separation with coffee can utilize this type of event to surprise and delight customers, as long as it’s done tastefully.
This email from Bed, Bath & Beyond, while referencing National Coffee Day, does not pique subscribers’ interest or provide any interesting information on the event. It simply uses it as an excuse to highlight a sale on certain “coffee” items. At the end, this campaign is really just a typical promotion with a coffee-colored bow on top. While Bed, Bath & Beyond has the right products to create a connection between the brand and National Coffee Day, it misses the mark in striking the right chords with its campaign.
Fashion brand H&M does not sell coffee, but does sell Home Goods including coffee mugs. They used National Coffee Day as an opportunity to showcase their coffee mugs, which is a product their customers may not normally associate with the retailer. This simple, unexpected association makes their campaign novel and fresh and increases consumer awareness of H&M coffee mugs.
Backcountry, on the other hand, took their National Coffee Day email further and carried it through several different email modules. They began with an intriguing subject line (‘Good camp coffee’ is not an oxymoron). Then set the theme with pre-header and header copy about National Coffee Day. The email is focused on selling Backcountry coffee accessories, but it’s positioned as useful information to help customers enjoy delicious coffee while camping. The end result comes across as authentic in purpose.
Our next example is from a brand that sells coffee, among many other things. It’s the grocery brand Save-A-Lot. In this campaign, it used National Coffee Day to give customers added value content, such as coffee facts and a recipe. The email modules click through to related content details on Pinterest. This tactic is a nice surprise and delight for customers who may not expect to learn things from their grocery store. And in contrast to our last example, this added content is not directly tied back to a purchase, and appears genuinely educational and helpful, not just focused on purchasing items from Save-A-Lot.
Finally, we have an example from a brand that has become synonymous with coffee and is fully aligned with this holiday. A National Coffee Day email coming from Starbucks is not only logical, but expected. So, in order to truly stand out, they needed to be creative. Starbucks used humor to engage customers with entertaining content.
This fun campaign delves into shared values and the meaningfulness of coffee to both the brand and its customer base; it’s a love letter to coffee – from the subject line (“Dear coffee, we love you”) down to the last line of You + Starbucks (cleverly used as a synonym for coffee) = Love.
While not all of us are lucky enough to market products and services that perfectly align with specific holidays, pop culture references or energy moments, we can all use these events, where appropriate for our target audience, as a way to engage consumers. As long as you keep customers’ attributes, interests and needs in mind when creating content, using specific themes can play to your advantage. But remember that it’s not about making a sale, but about connecting with subscribers. Some good guidelines to creating relevant brand content are:
Lisa Kackos is a Marketing Strategy and Operations Specialist at Data Axle. Previously, she was a Sr. Account Manager on several client accounts and has a background in Agency Account Management. She has managed the development of digital and offline communications for many clients, including Marriott Rewards, Citi, Burger King and USPS.