In business, the term “stickiness” has several meanings. Most commonly, it is utilized to measure the success of marketing- and content-driven promotional efforts. Learning to improve stickiness is a vital skill for any business in the modern age, as boosting it can help you add new customers, increase audience awareness and build brand loyalty. In effect, the “stickier” that your communications strategies and efforts are, the more attention that they will attract, the more they’ll be shared by clients and the more traction that you’ll enjoy with your target audience.
According to Sinan Aral, director for the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy in a February 2021 article for Harvard Business Review, when attempting to gauge stickiness, it’s crucial to focus on a phenomenon he calls “lift”—the ability of your marketing and promotional efforts to create or cause behavioral change amongst consumers. In other words, as you go about measuring stickiness, it’s important not just to consider frequency (defined as the amount of times a consumer is exposed to outreach efforts), but also reach (how many total people you can impact with them).
Delivering truly sticky content isn’t about bombarding target audiences with messages and promotions, which can turn off potential buyers or lead to diminishing returns the more they’re repeated. It’s about understanding how to effectively grow your brand’s footprint and reach and expose it to new audiences; understanding shoppers’ purchasing motivations; and leveraging data and analytics to accurately gauge how far along your audience is in the customer experience journey so you can deliver content to match.
As a first step before launching any marketing effort, you should determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to objectively measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
Noting this, it’s no wonder that a 2020 survey of 1,707 global marketers by the Content Marketing Institute notes that 81% of organizations utilize hard metrics to track the stickiness of promotional campaigns’ performance. Of these, nine in ten turn to website traffic as their primary bellwether of success, with other popular categories including email engagement (opens, clicks, downloads), website engagement (time spent, bounce rate, form completions) and growth in email subscriber numbers or sales conversions. On the bright side, 87% of individuals polled note that sticky content has successfully helped them build brand awareness. Bearing all of the above items in mind, going forward, it will only become more important for organizations to put greater emphasis on creating sticky marketing campaigns that connect with customers over time.
How to Measure Stickiness
At its most basic level, stickiness refers to how memorable your content and outreach efforts are, and how well your business and brand sticks in the mind of your consumer. Performance measures can vary based on campaign target goals, preferred mediums, and target industry and audience, as well as individual company objectives. Nonetheless, several commonly-utilized metrics that you might look to when gauging the performance of content include:
- sales generated
- deals closed
- total likes or shares
- number of views, listens, reposts or comments
- customer sign-ups, registrations and inquiries
- amount of leads produced
- audience growth and total new fans/followers
- brand awareness
- number of logins
- percent of active users
For some businesses, measuring stickiness involves determining how many people viewed or liked content postings, or became leads and made purchases based on these promotions. For others, especially makers of mobile apps and software programs, it’s a factor of how many users are active on a monthly or daily basis, or is determined by how many convert to paying customers and how much they spend. But for most firms pursuing a traditional advertising or content strategy, you can measure promotional effectiveness by looking at:
- number of impressions
- clickthrough rate (CTR) or open rate
- total viewing or listening time
- overall conversions
- traffic generated (and referring sources)
- cost to acquire users
Again, note that success metrics can vary greatly by promotional channel and medium. For example, a clickthrough rate of as little as 1-4% may be considered a success with internet banner ads; an open rate of 10-25% a winner with an e-mail promotion; and a 20-40% sign-up and conversion rate a solid return on a free 14-day trial offer promotion. Likewise, a small business owner might rejoice at seeing that a social media post has been viewed by 1,000 to 10,000 people, whereas a larger mid-size business might generate 20,000+ views and hundreds of comments on posts on a more regular basis. As a first step before launching any marketing effort, you should determine key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to objectively measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
Boosting Stickiness and Improving Conversion Rates
Successfully capturing and holding customers’ attention, as well as inspiring ongoing loyalty, is both an art and science. This logistical puzzle not only challenges you to present the right offer at the right time via the right medium, but also to refine and improve these efforts by tailoring messaging and promotions to the individual customer. Implementing analytics and tracking software can help you track and increase your performance here. Note that the most effective promotional campaigns don’t remain static—they may refresh and refine their techniques and messaging as frequently as every 24 hours. In effect, the “stickiest” of marketing and content campaigns are those in which you’re regularly monitoring customer behavior and habits… and adapting promotional efforts on the fly based on marketplace input.
A few simple strategies that you can utilize to improve campaign performance are:
- Implementing multiple versions of the same advertisement
- Repackaging or reposting content in new ways
- Tailoring outreach efforts to fit each unique communications medium
- Sourcing audience feedback and submissions
- Polling and surveying your customers
- Offering free bonuses and value-adding extras
- Promoting limited-time and exclusive offers or discount deals
- Targeting content to different devices
- Running ads at varying times of the day
- Retargeting audiences with a known interest in featured subjects
This may mean geo-targeting content and promotions to appear on shoppers’ smartphones when they drive through the neighborhood or are about to step into a competitor. Likewise, it may require you to monitor clients’ activities while they’re using your software or website and leverage pop-up ads or specially-timed offers to capture their interest when they’re most receptive to marketing messages. In all cases, the key is to stay well-tuned into how successfully content is resonating, which messages and offers are enjoying the greatest uptake, and how you can most effectively refine your campaigns to improve their ability to connect with your audience. After all, it’s not uncommon for companies to launch many versions of a single ad as a way to quickly test the market, get feedback and retool promotions to more successfully resonate with a larger customer base.
Mastering the Art of Stickiness
While there’s no one single, surefire way to guarantee that your campaigns will be a hit with customers, many companies have found success by leveraging humor, cutting-edge wisdom or insight, and novel angles or approaches to strike a chord with audiences worldwide. Your goal as a marketer should always be to stand out and capture prospective customers’ attention at a glance— and have something compelling to say when they stop to take note.
If you find that you’re having difficulty connecting with clients at first, don’t get disheartened. Learning how to maximize the effectiveness of marketing and content campaigns is a skill that develops over time, and messages that resonate with audiences today can flop tomorrow. As a general rule, it pays to remember: The more information that you can collect from the marketplace, and the faster that you can gather it, the more that you can use these insights to improve and enhance campaigns as you go.
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