The advent of digital marketing and the pervasiveness of social media flipped the script on the development of creative advertising campaigns. Now, instead of being about one big idea—a single concept that resonates with everyone—ad campaigns must be carefully customized to appeal to specific segments of an audience.
Achieving that level of personalization requires in-depth insight. It’s difficult enough for brand marketers to package their products to appeal to specific consumers. But if those marketers don’t understand their audiences, it’s virtually impossible.
To be successful, brands must be equipped with the tools, processes and partners that help them more completely understand what makes different segments of their targeted audiences tick—and a knowledge of how to leverage that insight to adapt and personalize their creative approaches.
Know Your Audience
The process of identifying the special sauce (or sauces, really) for how to position certain products is rooted in data. Data provides the insight to help brands truly understand why different audiences engage with products—how they shop and buy, why they consume and what resonates with them.
“We sit on an incredible treasure trove of campaign-level data across both verticals and targets, so we use that to try to be as relevant as possible from a creative perspective to the audience,” said Tom Lyons, head of creative solutions for SocialCode.
Accessing that data is core to helping brands determine the most effective ways to differentiate their products on various social platforms. But understanding how much time one type of consumer spends on Instagram Stories, for example, or that another segment is more likely to engage with a static image than a video on Facebook, is only scratching the surface. Every one of a brand’s competitors has that insight too. The next critical step is collaborating with the right creative partners to leverage that knowledge in ways that will drive purchases.
“We know from data that creative and messaging matters a lot,” Lyons said. “It used to be ‘get your message in front of your audience.’ Now it’s ‘get your differentiated, compelling brand message in front of an audience’ because it’s such a competitive marketplace.”
Success in social media advertising doesn’t just require creative that’s generally interesting—it requires creative that’s based on an in-depth understanding of what resonates with different audiences, and creative that can be adjusted and refreshed based on actual performance data. And it requires partners with the experience and understanding to navigate an increasingly complex advertising environment.
“We think about content creation and storytelling in a totally different way than we used to,” Lyons said. “No longer is it about what a 30-second TV spot or print ad is going to look like. Instead, we think about three primary things and three secondary things we want to communicate, and how to adapt content in the most efficient and effective ways across seven social channels that each have myriad different ad units. Each of those ad units has different functions in the purchase funnel—so how do we make sure we’re providing the right content for all of that?”
The process can introduce a staggering number of variables, all of which factor importantly into the process of determining the ideal creative approaches. For example, a marketer might understand that most Instagram users look at Stories before they look at their feeds—but is the creative asset a brand is using for its campaign on Stories sized and shot correctly for the size of a mobile phone? What’s the best time for the swipe up, and the most effective call to action?
“All of those things matter a great deal,” Lyons said. “It’s an understanding of the nuances of the platform, and then each unit within the platform.”
When Clear, the expedited airport security service, wanted to increase its subscription numbers, the company partnered with SocialCode to develop a library of creative assets tailored to appeal to different personas seeking different outcomes. Content was developed to align with different value propositions like ease of use, worry-free travel and location-specific messaging. The campaign spurred 1,400 new subscriptions per month.
The Personal Touch
To truly make consumers feel connected to a brand, marketers must know what problems their audience segments have that their products or services can solve, the type of content they crave and how they consume it—and, most importantly, how they buy. In the end, all the audience and behavior analysis and the collaboration with creative partners should produce campaigns that feel custom-designed to the person viewing them.
“Personalization isn’t really the right word—it’s relevance. Hyper-relevance,” Lyons said. “I don’t care if someone says ‘Hey Tom, did you want to buy these stools?’ I care that I just put a new countertop in my kitchen, and someone selling stools knows that and asks me if I need stools.”
The irony of all this data interpretation and creative collaboration that fuels more effective social media marketing is that the best advertising on social platforms really shouldn’t come across as advertising at all.
“Our philosophy is ‘keep social social,’” Lyons said. “That means even ads should feel like content that someone is interested in and wants to be engaged with, even if they don’t want to purchase something.”