Consumer conversation matters. A study published in Adweek found that 19% of all consumer purchases are driven by conversation (see “How Consumer Talk Supercharges Advertising”). Advertising that generates consumer conversation is therefore incredibly valuable, but alas, not all conversation is created equal.
Consumers are no longer content to discuss the portion of the ads they are supposed to discuss — the product, the relevant message, the creative tagline, the story, etc. Instead, they’ve got notes for you about the strategy behind the ad — including the reasons for the demographics you’ve decided to represent, the platform your message appears on and the decision to call out a particular point of difference vs. the competition, etc. In other words, savvy and skeptical consumers are discussing what you are trying to do with this advertising. It’s the age of the “armchair marketer,” when consumers think they understand your strategy and know that their opinion matters.
Consumers are empowered with the tools to voice their opinions, and they expect brands to take note. A recent survey found that 83% of social media users expect companies to respond to social media comments within a day or less. Among Millennials, 44% expect a response within an hour.
Smart marketers will harness the power of consumer conversation in the age of the “armchair marketer” with the following tips:
- Give them an outlet — start a discussion about your advertising with consumers. By creating ways for consumers to discuss your brand message (and selecting the right messaging to get them talking), you can reap the benefits of armchair marketers and curb the potential downsides of negative conversation.
- Listen and respond to consumers’ criticism of advertising. As previously mentioned, consumers expect a response and they appreciate a brand’s willingness to learn from mistakes. If a bad situation arises, swiftly take action.
- Decentralize interactive marketing influence. Brands often rely on interactive marketing efforts to generate consumer conversation, but the nature of that conversation is difficult to control. Let the influencers do what they do best: own interactive content (within brand guidelines) and communicate with a community of consumers.
Current Gartner clients can learn more in our research report, “Your Ad Strategy is Showing: How to Harness the Power of Consumer Conversation.”