Seduce, don’t sell

Advertisers need the art of seduction now more than ever, argues CarsGuide Labs head Tim Flattery.

No one in the marketing industry is sitting around debating the merits of having an active presence online. It’s a no brainer, right? Never has it been more evident than over the past twelve months when creating online experiences for customers wasn’t just a nice to have, but a necessity to keep the physical (and metaphorical) doors of a business open.

With the options for engaging with consumers online now greater than ever before, the industry risks isolating their most engaged audiences, as consumers wise up and tune out of disruptive advertising.

As people move towards content consumption advertising needs to be about seducing, selling and servicing.

Seducing the customer 

In CarsGuide’s recent research report, The Digital Influence Study, the findings indicated that consumers are more than doubling the number of car brands they’re considering during the initial research stage, from 2.4 to 5.6.

While this is an automotive model, the statistic highlights the challenge that brands are facing in an online space where it’s a constant tug of war between maintaining those that are brand loyal while attempting to convert those that are currently looking elsewhere. To put that into context, around one in five buyers change their mind about which car to buy in the final two weeks prior to purchase. And 12 per cent switch brand entirely, largely as a result of the influence of automotive third-party sites on the car buying process.

An effective strategy to combat losing a consumer in the purchase journey is to create good content which proves itself to be useful, thus removing the friction of advertising.

If done correctly, it builds an instant connection and powerfully augments above and below the line advertising because the audience seeks out the information reducing the need for targeting.

An increasing number of global businesses are investing in their own content creation platforms at scale – Corona beer is one of the latest after employing its own dedicated global content studio.

The reason these businesses are investing in high volumes of owned content is that brands are turning to custom publishing to entice rather disrupt their audience. With many people becoming savvier online, advertising is struggling to reach its intended audience as ad blockers and paid content services enable consumers to block out disruptive advertising.

What we found in our own research is that the consumption of authoritative, automotive third-party content and reviews as intenders reach the critical decision point is vital to increasing the chance of purchase. When someone has a car, life goes on but when they’re searching to purchase one, they’ll make the effort to seek out genuinely helpful content to assist with the purchasing journey.

It is only once you’ve laid the foundations through the art of seduction, that you should sell directly to consumers.

In fact, fusing a combination of useful content with advertising and brand owned messaging will see a brand succeed in even the most competitive industries.

Providing value

The Digital Influence Study also found that consumers are spending on average 2.7 hours a week searching online for a new car, and interestingly, 52 percent spent between one and three months looking for a new car once triggered for purchase. And this is just for a car purchase. In short, consumers are spending longer online consuming content across multiple platforms creating a scenario when brands need kilograms of content if they stand any chance of being seen online.

Ultimately, we are seeing a shift to a more empowered consumer who is aware of their privilege of choice. Faced with multiple options and the ease and availability of online shopping, brands must now ensure they are omnipresent to remain top of mind or fight for mind share. Disruptive advertising alone is a waste of time and money as savvy consumers seek out relevant and helpful content. The opportunity for marketers is to piggyback off those content hot spots to create cut through in a busy and fickle marketplace.

Tim Flattery is the head of CarsGuide Labs.


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