6 ways to increase your brand affinity with content marketing
Brand affinity is the stage in the buyer journey when your audience starts to identify with your business. Rather than just being aware of you and what you do, they now feel like you share common values and interests.
In this post we’re going to share 6 ideas for using content marketing to boost brand affinity. But first, let’s look at why you should bother.
Why brand affinity matters
It stands to reason that if people like your business and what you stand for that they’re more likely to become a customer. Affinity with your brand is particularly important as people enter the bottom of your sales funnel. It’s at this stage when trust, confidence and familiarity have a bigger influence over decision-making.
A 2017 study featured in the Journal of Interactive Marketing revealed that consumers who held positive feelings towards a particular smartphone brand were seven times more likely to include that brand’s name in their Google searches.
If your business has done the work to build strong brand relationships it’s here that you’ll have an advantage over the competition. Once people have made a decision to buy it comes down to who will win their business. That is much more likely to be a brand they recognise, trust and identify with. As a result, brand affinity has a direct link to your bottom line.
Idea #1: use social media to find impactful stories
Brand affinity is a virtuous circle. You create content on topics that your audience cares about. As a result, more people who care about those same topics come into contact with your brand. By engaging with your content or following you on social media, these people then help reinforce your association with those topics.
In fact, looking at your social media following is a good indicator of how your brand is perceived. If your brand is innovative and dynamic you should see those attributes reflected in the profiles of the people following you on social media and in the other brands they follow.
When looking for content you can create that will resonate with your audience you can reverse engineer this process. If you look at what your audience is doing on social media you can identify the stories and topics they care about. This can feed your blog or your own social media posts with ideas more likely to reinforce that affinity with your brand.
Idea #2: invest in educational content to find new audiences and build trust
Educational content is content that focuses on providing valuable, useful information rather than just selling. Instead of blogging about your business and what you sell, you blog about popular questions your audience is asking or topics they care about.
Investing in this type of content has two benefits when trying to build brand affinity. The first is that it helps introduce your brand to audiences for the first time. Before anyone can identify with your business and its values, they need to know you exist and that you care about some of the same things they do.
Second, educational content is an effective tool for building trust. A study by Conductor, a US-based search and content marketing agency, found that people who read a piece of educational content from a brand were 131 per cent more likely to buy from that brand. Furthermore, 84 per cent of people who read a piece of educational content from a brand went on to choose that brand ahead of three alternatives when prompted to make a decision.
Idea #3: provide a consistent brand experience
Consistency is super important in brand marketing. If you want the stories you tell to be believed you need to repeat them regularly and weave them through the different platforms and tactics you use to market your business.
When it comes to brand affinity, it’s the story that hooks people in, but consistency that makes it stick. People who come into contact with your brand because it’s young and edgy need to see those same themes in the content you create for your website, for social media and in your above the line advertising.
If people see that your business lives the themes and values you talk about on your company blog then they’ll see your brand story as authentic and real. This will dramatically improve your chances of building a meaningful relationship, which leads to them feeling genuine affinity towards your brand.
Idea #4: create user personas to really understand who your audience is
Marketing always starts with understanding your audience. Before you create amazing content and spend money promoting it, you need to know who you’re targeting, what they want from you and what actions you want them to take.
A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) revealed a strong correlation between understanding and prioritising your audience and content marketing success. B2B Content Marketing 2019 found that 90 per cent of the top performing brands put their audience’s informational needs first.
Before you can build a meaningful relationship with your audience you need to get that basic understanding right. A simple tool like a set of user personas can help your content creators visualise who they’re targeting.
Idea #5: reward customers when they’re loyal
Customers who have a real affinity with your brand choose your business over the competition not just once but repeatedly. They return to you over and over again because they like your products and your customer service, but also because they’ve connected with your brand.
These customers are incredibly valuable to your business. Not only are they jumping straight to the bottom of your sales funnel, they’re also out there spreading the word about you and winning you new customers. According to a survey by Helloworld, the marketing technology platform, 74 per cent of people who used a brand at least once a month had recommended that brand to a friend.
But regular customers who are giving your business positive word-of-mouth advertising expect something in return. A separate Helloworld study found the most popular perk for loyal customers was discounts and special offers (82 per cent). That was followed by freebies (77 per cent) and priority customer service (33 per cent).
Idea #6: deliver a high quality product (and talk about it)
You can have a world class content marketing game, but your brand affinity will be fatally undermined by poor service or underwhelming products. The most important part of any brand experience is what happens when customers buy what you’re selling. If your product or service fails to meet or exceed their expectations you’ll fail to make that connection and you’ll struggle for repeat business or positive word-of-mouth.
So, while it’s important to produce the educational, top-of-funnel content we mentioned earlier in this post, you also need to devote some content marketing dollars to your products. Your audience needs to understand what sets them apart from those of your competition. There’s a risk that if you don’t talk about something as simple as your commitment to good service your audience will think it’s not a priority for you.
A recent study published in the Journal of Business Research found that the messaging priorities of a sock brand had a significant impact on how the actual product was perceived. Participants who had seen messaging prioritising the firm’s good corporate social responsibility record viewed the socks as lower quality than another group who had seen messaging on the firm’s commitment to high production standards.