From copywriting on the campaign trail to the unstoppable rise of ad-blockers – content marketing trends

Copywriting on the campaign trail

At the heart of the grandiose PR exercise that is the US presidential primary race, lies the need for clear, succinct and relevant copywriting. USA_Flag

Delegates, having been force-fed millions of dollar in lobbyists’ cash, need a seamless content strategy to put across their message and build trust within just a few short months. One wrong move, and their political career and campaign could be left in tatters.

This means deploying slogans, email marketing and social media campaigns in tandem to appeal beyond a traditional target audience, leveraging influencers, consumer psychology and storytelling along the way.

As many of the delegates that have fallen by the wayside will tell you, a slogan has the potential to make or break you. Before we get on to some of slogans that would have been torn apart by a terminally sarcastic UK electorate, let’s see what we can learn from the delegates that are still in the game:

  • Donald Trump: ‘Make America Great Again!’ In terms of copywriting acumen alone, Trump’s is the official slogan that most obviously demonstrates conventional content marketing wisdom. It’s active (‘Make’), keyword rich (‘America Great’), nostalgic (‘Again!’) and succinct. But, such a direct rallying call hasn’t become as definitive as it has because of the policies that back it up. In fact, with Trump’s New York liberal to neoconservative republican transition and myriad of mad, unworkable policies, it’s one of the few things that all his supporters can agree on.
  • Hillary Clinton: ‘Hillary for America’. Hillary’s team managed to get the keyword in there (‘America’), but that’s about as good as it gets. The slogan is passive, self-absorbed and – frankly – sounds like it should be scrawled on the wall in a ‘90s cartoon (‘Hildawg 4 Life’).
  • Bernie Sanders: ‘A Future To Believe In’. It’s a bit clunky, non-specific and passive – a bit like what gives good ol’ Bern his electoral charm. And, as his funding and support has come from the grassroots, so have a series of better slogans; publicly sourced and organically promoted on social media. Digital strategist Winnie Wong came up with the iconic ‘Feel the Bern’, which sat alongside the plethora of ‘[Insert profession/social demographic here] for Bernie’ offerings, and a few other humorous asides.

And, here’s a few of the tepid, overtly cliché slogans that’ll be forgotten just as quickly as the candidates themselves:

  • Ted Cruz: ‘TrusTed’
  • Chris Christie: ‘Telling It Like It Is’
  • John Kasich: ‘Kasich For USA’
  • Rand Paul: ‘Defeat The Washington Machine, Unleash The American Dream’
  • Ben Carson: ‘Heal, Inspire, Revive’
  • Bobby Jindal: ‘Tanned, Ready and Rested’

Elsewhere on the campaign trail, we found out who was winning in the email marketing stakes. While Trump has the shortest email subscriber list, he’s top dog for audience engagement, with an open rate higher than either Hillary or Bernie. This reflects the backs-to-the-wall, commie-bashing sense of duty he’s put at the heart of his brand. Bernie, meanwhile, has the lowest ‘delete without opening’ rate, showing how devoted his followers were to an alternative political model, regardless of how slickly the message is translated.

Ad-blockers defy best efforts of content’s big-hitters

Back in the halcyon days of February 2016, we took a closer look at how content engines (be they commercial or media focused) have attempted to overcome ad-blocker technology.

Across the spectrum, there seemed to be almost no method that hadn’t yet been trialled. There were companies that tried a touch of tongue-in-cheek humour, and those who adopted a holier-than-thou defence of the relationship between ads and content. Some promised an ‘ad-light’ experience if you switched off your ad-blocker, while others tried to enhance the sense of service to the end user.

The only thing that could be agreed on; there’s no consensus on a singular technique that can tempt people to forgo their much-loved ad-blocker. But, with so many of the industry’s most well-resourced names on the case, one of them must be on to something, right?

Wrong! AdBlock Plus co-founder, Till Faida, revealed last week that their product had become the most popular of its kind, stretching beyond 100m users worldwide for the first time. This fits neatly alongside research from video ad tech firm Unruly, who identified the extent of the importance of ad-blockers for young readers, with 93% of millennials stating that they would consider using such a service.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale described ad-blockers as a “modern day protection racket” during an interview back in March, but stopped short of introducing the prospect of an outright ban. In any case, we were treated to a ring-side seat of his first true parliamentary bout as Culture Secretary last week, and it’s safe to say he got a bloody nose.

This latest surge suggests that, like the music industry, the consumer interest in protecting the existing model just isn’t there. And, as low-cost streaming services finally managed to put something of a lid on illegal downloads, so too will publishers need to start looking at completely different funding models – used in tandem with great content – if they are to survive.

Brands failing to take advantage of post-sale content marketing

Brands aren’t doing enough to instil trust and keep hold of customers after the point of purchase, a survey commissioned by digital marketing agency Oliver has found.

Respondents were asked to identify the point at which they felt most engaged with a brand. Here’s what they said:

  • 38% – When the company’s product is already being used (43% among people aged 55+)
  • 23% – When looking at the company website
  • 21% – When speaking with a brand representative in-store

These figures suggest that, while companies spend most on marketing pre-sale, there’s potentially much more value to be tapped from post-purchase marketing. To keep this dialogue open, you need the right content to be sent out at the right times.

This is where many brands are failing; 51% of respondents felt that they were emailed by brands too frequently, while 17% did not feel that content was not sufficiently tailored to their interests. Just 8% stated that brands didn’t contact them enough.

The survey also identified a generational difference in terms of social media engagement, with 23% of 18 – 24 year olds stating that they were concerned by a lack of responsiveness via social media channels, compared to just 14% of people aged 55+.

It will, of course, take time for content strategy to become fully developed for the new age. However, these figures suggest that too many companies are fixated on the pushy, pre-sale marketing tactics of yesteryear, and not enough on high-quality, trust-building content that enhances the relationship after sale.