Content That Links, or Content That Likes?

On 20/09/2018 by Araceli Almada

In the everyday lives of marketers, it can be easy to lose track of what the end-objective actually is. There comes a time when marketers must ask themselves: ‘Am I playing the long game and building something sustainable, or am I looking to make shortcuts for short-term gains?’ 

The long game entails building a brand: creating awareness, generating quality content, and establishing a community of consumers based on trust. Shortcuts, meanwhile, entail tricks such as ‘growth hacking’ where the objective is to quickly scale a business. 

The question may sound a little like ‘what comes first: the chicken, or the egg?’ but only one strategy ensures your growth is headed in the right direction. 

An Engaging Reason for Growth: Marketer vs Hacker

It’s all about knowing the KPIs that actually matter. Growth marketers gauge success through measurable results, with the key to drive user engagement and relationships. A holistic approach is used, centered around the user experience, to grow not only by customer acquisition but also customer retention and win-back. After all, it‘s the user experience that strengthens or weakens the customer’s preference, loyalty, and advocacy for a brand. Growth marketers take ownership of these metrics to gain insight into the health of their business, making improvements through lots of small iterations and lots of small wins. Growth marketing is indeed data-driven, and without data, marketing would just be expensive guesswork.

Growth hacking focuses solely on the number of leads, promising a big win through one big iteration. As a core strategy, it is to checkers as growth marketing is to chess; it is intellectually lazy because its ‘results’ are short-sighted and unlikely to pay off as the objective should be to have ‘staying power’ with customers. That’s because there are no shortcuts in building an audience, and you can’t ‘hack’ your way through the trust-building process. 

Results spoken about growth hacking are almost unrealistic until we hear about that one exception that defies logic. The problem then is that almost every marketer chases to be that next exception. They become indulged in the promise of hyper-growth, turning a blind eye to the fact that growth hacking is the least likely strategy to succeed. A company may get lucky with a stroke of genius, but for every growth hacking success like Airbnb, there are thousands of failures. In fact, often overlooked in the Airbnb success story is how the company nearly failed before it ever took off. It used growth hacking many times, only to accrue massive debts as each hack brought surges of traffic of one-time visitors.

The reality with shortcuts is an increased number of leads at a decreased rate in engagement, and without engaged audiences there’s no meaningful conversion. Shortcuts measure outputs not outcomes, and marketing should be about generating high-quality leads by aligning advertising goals with revenue objectives.

Marketers are Embracing Native Advertising

Getting coverage from engaged audiences is harder nowadays, and forging real connections with customers takes real effort. Nevertheless, using the long game, there is a way to achieve exactly that and more.

Native advertising isn’t new to the game by any means, but the term was only defined in 2011. Born from brands finding a more direct link to get their content in front of the right audience, it’s a long game strategy that enables brands to grow the right way. It’s also emerged as the most effective advertising medium: according to the second annual global research study on native advertising, native accounted for 21% of overall ad revenue and is projected to nearly double to 40% by 2020.

Building a Brand the Right Way

When it comes to building your brand, banner blindness can have a big consequence on your advertising campaign. Yet, a big advantage of native advertising is more online visibility, introducing sponsored stories within the content your audience is consuming. Users aren’t able to disregard native ads as easily as other formats because they blend seamlessly into the publication site. Native advertising helps you identify audience segments and develop brand messages that speak to their interests, generating greater engagement for a better ROI. Users won’t turn their back to the brand message, because native’s sponsored content is relevant and trustworthy, and this is what people are most receptive to. By connecting with these influencers, you leverage communities through shareability, introducing your brand to new and relevant customers. By extending reach beyond social media networks, you can identify customers you may not have otherwise considered. Thus, with this strategy, a business of any size can achieve sustainable growth.

When short-term growth is the focus, measurements like click-rate take priority over others. This can be in the form of clickbait headlines, except clicks are just that: clicks. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are high-quality leads. When the content lacks a quality message to incite engagement, the audience loses trust and perceives your brand as low-quality. You may be able to deceive users for lots of clicks, but doing so won’t result in higher sales compared to ads that are credible to its promise. It’s for this reason quality trumps quantity. Using clickbait to maximize growth is akin to dragging customers into a store: they may have entered it, but they will probably not buy anything. 

The Native Truth

According to a BI Intelligence report, native ads have earned consumer trust far more than any other medium. They are viewed 53% more frequently than traditional display ads, have 31% better engagement than standard banners, and provide a higher click through rate at 60%. Better yet, purchase intent is 53% higher when users read native content. 

Native advertising is a huge opportunity for marketers in a digital age where consumers want to know exactly what they are getting. Brands can help themselves in all aspects of marketing, from brand awareness to engagement, where the end-objective is sales.

If you want to realize results that matter and achieve sustainable growth, then it’s time you be bold and go native. Contact us to launch your campaign with our next-level native advertising.