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Take the Faster Path to Earned Media (and Engage Customers Right Away)

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For businesses, the ability to drive customer attention online is more critical than ever—and for good reason. Engaging a consumer in the right way on the Web provides an opportunity to tap into their social networks, increase their digital word of mouth, and begin racking up earned media cred.

The Value of Earned Media

Research shows that earned media (in the form of recommendations and reviews from friends and family members) are some of the most powerful influencers along a consumer's path to purchase. The latest Local Consumer Review survey shows a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews, with 72% of consumers saying they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 52% saying positive online reviews make them more likely to engage with a business.

So, the opportunity to convert consumers into advocates who freely publicize your wares among their social networks cannot be ignored. It must be embraced—quickly. Yet, tapping these social networks and turning consumers into online advocates isn't an easy task.

Consumers have grown much savvier in their online activity. A recent Accenture Seamless Retail Study found 69% and 62% respectively said online pop-up ads and mobile banner ads would never influence their purchasing. And now, they are accustomed to using multiple screens—from anywhere, any time—to research and purchase products, connect with friends and family, and enjoy a broad array of entertainment options. This "always on" phenomenon provides advantages for brand marketers, if embraced appropriately. Potential roadblocks, such as consumers employing technologies to block advertisements and unsolicited communications along the way, must be taken into consideration and further validate the need to leverage a myriad of channels—both online and off—to reach, inspire, and compel audiences to move past being just interested consumers and onto becoming brand advocates. The optimal strategy will deliver a well-defined media mix that takes target audiences on a journey through paid, owned, then, ultimately, earned media.


Earning Media Using Digital Place-Based Strategies to Activate, Engage, and Amplify

Digital in-store media provides advertisers with captive audiences along the path to purchase, and when used strategically, it provides multiple options for moving target audiences seamlessly through an integrated digital media cycle that ultimately results in the coveted earned media brand marketers desire. That cycle, which incorporates activation, engagement, and amplification, provides a packaged method for building brands, extending campaigns, and reaching across social networks.

Let's use an example of a beverage brand and an offer to download a coupon to demonstrate how an integrated digital media cycle might work.

1. Activate

A consumer sees an advertisement on a screen in store, in a quick-service restaurant, convenience store, or other venue along the path to purchase that provides a compelling call to action to engage with a beverage brand by downloading a digital coupon with his mobile device. These types of offers can tap into consumers' shopping impulse modes and drive them to pick up the beverage immediately while they are in store or, if they are not in store, to add the beverage to their next shopping list.

Some alternative strategies for digital place-based activation include...

  • Cast a vote. Which team do you think will win the Super Bowl?
  • Answer a short survey. What's your favorite chip flavor?
  • Enter to win. Sign up now to win a trip to Hawaii!
  • Sign up! Earn reward points.

2. Engage

Consumers now are directed to engage with mobile content owned by the brand after they respond to the on-screen call to action. The brand can deliver their coupon by connecting to an already existing mobile campaign or develop a unique experience that takes into account their audiences location and mindset, delivering a more comprehensive experience and driving better conversion.

3. Amplify

The content then provides options to amplify the brand's campaign using consumers' various social networks and share the brand's offer of the digital coupon as well as their positive experiences with the brand, which turns consumers into brand advocates.

Brands that are able to architect new experiences that converge paid, owned, and earned media are the brands that will win.

Those brands are engaging audiences across multiple screens, capitalizing on authentic content, reaching new fans, and boosting audience participation. They are playing to the way consumers want to (and expect to) be reached. Strategically activating mobile campaigns through digital place-based media is an important way to reach audiences along the path to purchase who are already engaged in the day-to-day activities of media consumption, hanging out, and shopping.

The end result is increased consumer engagement and loyalty, better insights gained into consumer behavior, and a much faster path to the Holy Grail of earned media—the ability to build a widespread team of brand advocates who will deliver your messages to their connections at little to no expense.


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Chris Souza is marketing manager/head of marketing at IZ-ON Media, a leader in digital place-based media sales and services.

LinkedIn: Chris Souza

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