July 2018

We Surf Where Our Friends Are

Over the last few years it has become even more evident that no one really surfs the web anymore like they used to. Think about your own habits, especially on mobile. You wake up in the morning and you don’t just think of a website to type in and jump to, you start with checking your email, visiting your social channels, then maybe have a question you need to search for. And even if you still check sites like NY Times or ESPN, chances are you follow them on social media and a specific headline from your feed grabbed you.

But, is it that no one surfs the web or that our online behaviors are just more habitual, streamlined and less “surf-like”or haphazard, and more directed? There’s an overwhelming amount of stuff to look at, but where do you start? With everything that’s out there, we actually need someone to tell us where to go next. Whether a friend, a blogger or publisher we follow, or a brand we’ve opted in to, we rely on them to tell us what to pay attention to… and where to “surf” next.

Gone are the days of buying something for more than $20 without checking the reviews, Amazon taught us that. And if our time spent online or watching a new show is our currency, then we’re not wasting it on just any content either. Even Netflix makes sure of that with “because you watched this, you may like these suggestions.” Your trusted sources help you spend your time wisely by endorsing content worthy of your free minutes. It’s like dating someone new and you’re not sure about them until you get the “okay” from your friends.

Since so many of our digital habits start with email, social or search, it’s no wonder that when it comes to brand activations, we see the best participation comes through email and social sources. However, with Facebook pulling back on how brands and the platform use our data over privacy concerns, will the content we come across in our feeds be less relevant to the individual? Even more of a reason a brand’s CRM audience, their “owned” consumer data, is more valuable than ever. They’re your top consumers, your most loyal, who have selected to receive your messages, and can be an advocate for your content among their friends. And in a world where we’re being so selective with what we spend our time online doing, we need those online advocates to show us the way.

So, in the quest for brand engagement, we’ve gotta focus on 1. making branded content and promotions that are shareworthy and 2. holding on tight to your top consumers through relevant and valuable (to the consumer) CRM programs, that must continue to grow over time.

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By Kristen Clough
VP, Strategy & Analytics