Advertising and marketing have existed since hundreds of years, and has changed much in that time. And just as they breaking news banner on a website is modern equivalent of the newsboy on the sidewalk in 1930s, many business owners have begun to wonder if the time has come to replace traditional marketing tactics with techniques more suited for the digital age. A recent study from Expertcity found that consumers are growing more distrustful of traditional marketing tactics in favor of online reviews and information found on social media.
The idea of a product that gets sold nationally is a relatively new invention in the American economy. It wasn’t until the late 19th Century when someone in Maine and someone in Florida could get the same brands of products. For most of the next century, people learned about these national brands from the company itself. Consumers would see ads in printed materials, door-to-door salespeople paid by the brand, and between radio and TV programs. With the exception of asking someone else in the neighborhood who bought the product, consumers could only rely on the information given to them by the brand itself.
The internet has dramatically changed the ways people learn about products and their quality without relying on the information from the brand itself. Unlike brand marketing, which often use the infomercial tactic of saying everything about their product is fantastically amazing, the internet has allowed people to search for (seemingly) more honest reviews and customer feedback.
According to a recent survey from Expertcity, the majority of consumers trust other sources before they trust the brand’s information. The study found that majority of consumers ranked family or friends (72 percent), online reviews (72 percent) and third-party experts (61 percent) as their top trusted sources when making a buying decision.
“Consumers clearly value interactions with credible, trustworthy people much more than traditional advertisements,” said Tom Stockham, CEO of Experticity. “Across the board, marketers are overvaluing traditional advertising and not placing nearly enough emphasis on actual people who, it turns out, are what actually impact consumers most.”
The problem for many business owners has been they have continued to focus on traditional marketing techniques even though the data suggest it’s time to put more eggs in the internet marketing basket. Around four out of five marketers (83 percent) believe that traditional advertising is the most effective means of influencing buying decisions. However, this reveals a huge disconnect with the opinion of the public, where less than half (47 percent) of the survey respondents saying they trust brand advertising.
Stockham explained the shift by saying, “Consumer trust is the most powerful asset marketers have when working to influence purchases, yet trust in traditional marketing tactics is overwhelmingly low. It’s vital that brands engage with customers in ways that build trust instead of breaking it down.”
Of course, this doesn’t meant that marketers should throw up their hands and assume there’s nothing they can do to help influence customers. Rather, this data shows the way business owners can empower their shoppers by giving them the information they want. For example, including reviews or customer testimonials on a product page can do more to influence customers than by adding another paragraph or two of ad copy.
Similarly, by engaging with customers on social media and encouraging their fans to do so also, Marketers can make a more positive influence on the minds of consumers than they would be able to if they relied on traditional ads.
Business owners can also use content marketing to reach customers with information about their product indirectly. This can be more effective than the hammer over the head method used by traditional advertising.
For more ideas on ways content marketing can help business owners expand their reach, read this article with tips on developing a content marketing strategy.