We like to believe in love at first sight, right? But real love takes time. If we think about the nature of ads, one impression might not be enough to grab someone’s attention — let alone make them fall in love with your brand in the blink of an eye. So, as marketers, we need a better way besides traditional advertising campaigns to get people to spend more time with our business and keep them coming back for more.
In this post, we’ll get real with you about the results of a $2M ad campaign we ran at Wistia and what we learned from our mistakes. To grow your audience and create true fans for your brand, here’s why your business should stop chasing after awareness and focus your marketing efforts on building affinity instead.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Idioms aside, hopefully you’re starting to get the the picture. We went all-in on this one campagin and learned a ton along the way. At our live-streamed event, Change the Channel, our co-founders Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz took a trip down memory lane and dug into just what happened after we saw the results from this blunder of an ad campaign (er, learning experience?).
A few years ago, we invested in a $2M ad campaign where we ran digital ads, plastered ourselves across highway billboards, produced NPR spots — the whole shebang. Here’s a look at one of the ads we made. We still stand by its cuteness, for the record:
Our goal was to create more brand awareness with this campaign. We originally thought that if we could just increase awareness, more people would care about us, which would move the needle and help grow the business.
“We originally thought that if we could just increase awareness, more people would care about us, which would move the needle and help grow the business.”
After analyzing the results, the campaign got 43 million impressions, which was a pretty impressive number by itself. However, traffic back to our site was actually lower than a reasonably successful blog post we distributed around the same time. When we asked ourselves, “Did more people really care about Wistia or find our products?” The answer was a humbling and resounding, no.
When it comes to ads, we all like to think we’ll be the exception to the rule. But the truth is that although advertising is great for building awareness — always has been, and always will be — it’s not great for building affinity. Awareness alone is not enough to grow your business, which is what we realized after that cool $2M went down the drain. Luckily, this loss wasn’t a major setback to our business, but we know that’s not the case for many other businesses out there. That’s why we want to help you learn from our mistakes.
Making people aware of your business doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be motivated to care about you, sign up to learn more about your product, or tell other folks about you. Someone needs to have a connection to you. They need to know that they share your values, and they need to spend time with you to become a brand advocate. Brand love is built on affinity, and this is something great brands have already figured out. Now it’s time for small and medium-sized businesses to also re-focus their efforts on building brand affinity in today’s marketing landscape.
Looking back at those 43 million impressions from our ad campaign, we learned a tough lesson, which is that impressions don’t necessarily equal the number of people impressed. As we explain in our Brand Affinity Marketing Playbook, consumers have become adept at mentally ignoring things they don’t want to see across the web. It’s no longer the case that by exposing them to a compelling tagline or 10-second video upwards of seven times, customers will come to know and trust your company name.
Of course, there is the exception that proves the rule. Occasionally, a campaign will hugely impact a company’s reputation by going viral and achieving PR success, but these cost a fortune and are one in a million.
What small and medium-sized businesses should know is the vast majority of advertising campaigns have little genuine impact on the trust and affection people have for a brand. To mask this problem, distribution platforms measure success with metrics like impressions, clicks, and views, giving trivial passing interactions the same weight as meaningful engagements. So, although 43 million impressions sounded like we gained millions of new brand fans for Wistia, it simply wasn’t the case.
“What small and medium-sized businesses should know is the vast majority of advertising campaigns have little genuine impact on the trust and affection people have for a brand.”
How are we seeing some of the greatest brands doing Brand Affinity Marketing? They’re creating entertaining, binge-worthy content that aligns with their brand values without asking for anything in return. The result? More brand advocates for their businesses. With Brand Affinity Marketing, you can gain more loyal fans for your brand that can help drive your business forward. Now that you understand the mistakes we made trying to build our brand by focusing our efforts on gaining awareness, you can re-evaluate your strategy, and hopefully, start growing your brand affinity.