When researching products and making a purchase, consumers turn to real people whose opinions they value.
There has been a shift in online advertising, and consumers are less receptive to intrusive ads and impersonal brand messaging. Digital ad-blockers are now among the most popular app downloads, and to continue reaching target consumers online, brands are increasingly turning to sponsored content on blogs and social media.
Authentic, high-quality online content, developed by influencers, represents the future of public relations and digital marketing. However, the need to track how these sponsored content campaigns lead to consumers making a purchase is a critical challenge.
To help determine what kinds of messages encourage brand affinity and consumer purchase, The Motherhood asked more than 700 blog readers from across the country to share insights on how they consume online content, including sponsored content – and its impact on what they buy.
“I’m definitely more likely to trust another mom than I am to trust a brand advertisement.”
Social media and blogs present the unique opportunity to build a sense of community and trust with others like us, and also for brands to authentically connect with consumers. Online influencers have created tribes of followers, made up of people who have similar interests and who value their opinions.
Blog readers highly value bloggers’ perspectives and recommendations. As a result, readers share those recommendations with their own communities in real life and online, creating a ripple effect. With 86 percent of readers talking to others offline about topics they’ve seen in blogs and on social media, sponsored content not only influences direct readers, but also the readers’ social circle, creating a trust circle with exponential reach.
Readers aren’t Buyers — Yet
“Personal stories I’ve read always weigh in my mind when making a decision about a product.”
While consumers are reading blog posts and social media, they are just that – readers. A common misconception is that when an individual reads a blog or social post about a product they will immediately click through to purchase. Our study found that the influence of online content extends beyond that initial read.
After reading a blog post, the majority of consumers keep the information in mind for when they’re actively considering making a purchase in the future, and only 13 percent make a purchase right away. When evaluating the effectiveness of social media programs at driving sales, brand marketers need to recognize that there is most often a gap between the initial impression and the time when the consumer is ready to buy.
Making a Purchase
“One of the best things about the internet is that you can get all sorts of opinions on all sorts of things. You just have to connect with people who like what you like for the reasons you like.”
However, when readers are ready to buy, brands they’ve read about online and those their friends have mentioned rise to the top of their minds. Although The Motherhood’s research found that making a purchase isn’t necessarily an immediate action, future purchases are very often influenced by sponsored content online: the vast majority of consumers stated they are more likely to purchase from a brand they’ve read about on a blog or in social media.