Empathy and Creative Marketing in the Era of Big Data
Thanks to big data, marketers have never known so much about the consumer, and yet many brands struggle to create a strategy that resonates with their core audience
Advances in technology in the last two decades have changed the way people consume content and interact with brands. The increasing pervasiveness of the Internet from tops of desks to palms of hands has given birth to a generation locked onto their screens, creating an opportunity for marketers to communicate to consumers pretty much wherever and whenever they want.
This revolution in the way people interact with companies has not only created prime real estate for ad content, but also a funnel for marketing analytics and insight previously unheard of in any industry.
At the same time, consumers have evolved into a post-demographic economy where the volume and ubiquity of information available online democratized content, allowing people to be in full control of their consumption habits. Social media has also created a more personal connection between brand and consumer, allowing people to have a more direct role in shaping a brand’s marketing strategy.
Are we using Big Data properly?
Digital and social media analytics have provided marketing professionals unparalleled insight into the consumer from basic demographic info to niches and online activity patterns.
This new treasure trove of information has essentially given brands the power to better adjust their marketing strategies based on current trends and user behavior, allowing them to resonate better with current audiences and prospects.
Streaming service Netflix even went further and used big data to help them make creative decisions. By measuring interest heat maps of users towards the platform’s content offerings, Netflix is able to predict the makings of a hit show or film—at least in theory.
However, in doing so, Netflix effectively follows a formula to success, diluting content and homogenizing the experience in the process.
This is the pattern seen across different industries. In the pressure to scale faster and cope with the growing sophistication of consumers, there is a temptation to simply replicate past successes, creating slightly different versions of previous efforts.
The elusive viral campaign
Since the advent of YouTube, brands have been trying to crack the code of what exactly makes content viral.
Pressured to create content with millions of people in organic reach, brands have tried to create a formula based on previous viral content from other brands in the hopes that their content would experience the same virality. But lightning rarely ever hits the same place twice.
By constantly putting out different versions of the same thing, people’s social media feeds are now bombarded by brands with identical aesthetics, witty tonality and gimmicks. The growingly communication-literate consumer becomes fatigued and desensitized because everything feels overdone.
For example, memes are a quick way of pushing out engaging content that resonates with people through humor. In the pursuit of relevance, most brands have attempted to make memes a part of their social media campaigns. However, there are times when companies are so pressured to follow suit that they miss the essence of a meme.
Even big brands are not immune to this. See the example below (with a similar post from Chrissy Teigen for comparison) of FritoLay’s Ruffles which posted a meme using a still from the animated series Arthur. It was poorly received by Ruffles’ Twitter followers due to the lack of originality or creativity behind the post.
On Instagram, it is even harder to set a brand apart in terms of aesthetics. When creating a feed strategy brands base it off of current visual trends and popular culture. And due to this, many companies have the same pegs when they design their feeds. While there is nothing wrong with having the same, visually pleasing aesthetic, it has become a challenge for consumers to set one brand apart from the other.
Two separate Instagram feeds of boutique patisseries.
Empathy and a holistic approach to marketing
Many companies forget that marketing is a long game. Every brand is out there to try and gain the consumer’s trust and it doesn’t come from the overnight success of one quirky YouTube ad.
In an effort to scale as fast as the company, marketing professionals have ironically forgotten about creativity and empathy in favor of number-crunching. Due to the rate of growth, many companies tend to operate in silos which is not conducive with open collaboration between areas of expertise. Marketing should unite analytics with creativity in a holistic strategy that resonates with people.
In 2017, international fast food chain Wendy’s received a lot of buzz everywhere due to its refreshing approach to social media, particularly on Twitter which is arguably a hard platform to crack.
Mixing trendy aesthetics and social media wit and sass rarely seen on a business page, Wendy’s was able to resonate with its largely Millennial and Gen Z demographic. And it worked.
Wendy’s winning the social media game.
The brand was able to capitalize on its brand promise of serving fresh, never frozen beef burgers by putting a young twist on the kind of honesty the brand projects. Wendy even dropped a digital EP on Spotify.
Consumers today prefer brands that speak to the human condition, and one thing that should not be lost is a brand’s identity. Companies should then strive to stand out and not fall into the trap of homogenizing content. This creates a more organic connection between the brand and prospects, embodying the brand promise and eventually gaining consumer trust.
Uniting numbers and creative thinking
With a team of writers and forward-thinking marketers, Ambidextr unites analytics with creative strategy to help bring your brand’s identity and promise to life. To know more about how we can help you create a winning marketing strategy, drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org