In a time where relationships are the key to any company’s success, brands need to find ways to engage and entertain their target audience.
One of the biggest things driving the change in today’s marketing and advertising strategies is the evolution of the ‘captive audience’. The traditional definition of ‘captive audience’ refers to someone who is forced to watch or listen to something because they have no other option. In days gone by, if you were sitting on a plane, and an advertisement appeared on the television screen in front of you, you’d have no option but to pay attention (or attempt to block out the content).
Thanks to smartphones, and internet connectivity, however, the conventional captive audience has become a dying breed. If your customers aren’t interested in what you have to say, they have a million ways to drown your message out.
In the time of digital transformation, brands need to rediscover they can use to captivate audiences through emotional connections and brand loyalty. If you want to connect with your customers today, you need to convince them that your words are worth listening to.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the ways marketers can still capture a captive audience.
What is a captive audience? Your captive audience definition
As mentioned above, successful marketing is all about engaging your audience.
You need to learn how to simultaneously capture and keep your audience’s attention if you want to convince them to act on your behalf. While revenue may come from the services and products you sell your clients, real value comes from the relationships you build with each customer.
Let’s start by examining a conventional captive audience definition.
According to Merriam Webster, a captive audience is a person or people unable to leave a specific place and therefore forced to pay attention to what’s being said. Now that customers have a way to escape any scenario through their smartphones, a locked door isn’t enough to create a captive audience.
So, what does captive audience mean in today’s world?
Simply put, the modern captive audience is a selection of people who are engaged and enthralled by your brand, marketing, and products. These potential ambassadors for your company care about what you have to say for multiple reasons, such as:
They know you have the solution to one of their most significant problems, or that you can help them to improve their lives.
They know you can provide an experience they can’t get anywhere else.
Consider the Walt Disney brand for an example of a company with skills creating a captive audience. Disney captivates their audience by:
Building customer loyalty through feelings of nostalgia: Disney has relied on making emotional connections with their customers since it was founded in 1923. The company is continually drawing attention to classic stories and ideas that customers connect with in their childhood. Recently, Disney has begun to revive their revenue by re-making old classics, like the Jungle Book, which made 900 million during the re-release in 2016.
Investing in multi-channel marketing: Captive audience marketing in the modern world means knowing where and how to connect with your customers. Disney constantly keeps fans engaged through live events, videos, and even social media accounts. Walt Disney also has specific social profiles for each of its sub-brands. For instance, Star Wars has 9.6 million followers on Instagram.
Telling incredible stories: Disney doesn’t just tell amazing stories through their movies, they’re also effective in telling their own company story. In a world where customers want to engage with the brands they buy from, storytelling is a fantastic way to create a captive audience, dedicated to your brand purpose.
How to captivate an audience with incredible content
One of the easiest ways to create a captive audience in today’s digital world is with the right content.
Prove to your customers that you can educate, entertain and enlighten them with the right blogs, videos, or podcasts, and you can rest assured that they’ll be hooked on your brand. After all, sticky content is the ultimate way to make sure that your leads keep coming back and interacting with your company over time. The more connections you make with your target customer, the more likely they are to become an ambassador for your business.
However, there’s more to captive audience advertising than publishing a new video or blog post once a week. You need to know how to use content to build a foundation for your long-term consumer relationships. Here’s some advice for your captive audience advertising.
1. Start by segmenting your audience
Look at it this way, would you be more likely to stop and pay attention if someone behind you shouted “Hey,” or if they addressed you by name?
Target audience segmentation is your brand’s way of making sure that you can create personalized messages that speak to your customers. The more tailored your marketing campaigns and branding strategies are, the more likely they are to captivate your audience.
You can start defining your audience by digging down into the demographics of your ideal customer. Think about the following factors:
… and anything else that seems relevant. If you have multiple products or services to offer, then you’ll probably have a wide selection of different customers. Segment your audience into different groups so you can begin to determine what kind of message, content marketing strategy and campaign will suit each. For instance, a social media marketing campaign is more likely to captivate a younger audience than someone over the age of 60.
2. Address the things your customers care about
As mentioned above, today’s customers are captivated by the idea of solving their problems and improving their lives. If you want to answer the question “what is a captive audience,” you can find out for yourself by uncovering your consumers’ pain points, concerns, and questions. For instance, in 2012, McDonald’s created a website for their “Our Food, Your Questions” program. They knew people were concerned about the ingredients in their food, so they found a way to answer those most pressing questions.
According to a study by Fast Company, within the first four months of the website’s launch, McDonald’s answered 10,000 questions and read around 16,000 queries from customers. McDonald’s effectively embraced captive audience marketing with their new website’s content, because they addressed precisely what their readers were most interested in.
3. Tell a powerful story
There are few things more captivating in today’s world than a truly incredible story. Fortunately, brands have everything they need to engage their audience with a wide range of unique narratives. The most obvious example of the brand story comes in the ‘About Us’ page on your website, but you can also tell stories and build connections with your customers every day through blogs, articles, press releases, videos, and more.
According to a study of New York Times articles conducted by the Wharton Business School, the most compelling content created by the magazine were the pieces that evoked an emotional response. To captivate their audience using emotional story-driven content, the hotel brand ‘Marriott’ created an ad campaign for their latest boutique hotel range, ‘Moxy’. The campaign featured social influencers sharing their experiences from behind the scenes in Moxy hotel rooms.
This content strategy was captivating because it gave people an inside look at what they could expect from the hotels and combined that insight with personality-driven stories from real people.
4. Leverage videos and visuals to capture attention
Finally, if you want to create your definition of a captive audience with content, then you need to speak your customer’s language. Sometimes this means moving beyond text and exploring other media outlets. After all, 81% of people only ‘skim’ the content they read online.
Visuals are incredibly powerful in a time where it’s increasingly difficult to capture and hold an audience’s attention. HubSpot shows that content with relevant image achieves 94% more views than text-only content.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can use visuals in your captive audience marketing campaigns. For instance:
Create infographics that provide your audience with valuable information and attractive imagery at the same time.
Share pictures with quotes on social media to encourage community sharing.
Create videos packed full of entertaining insights that demonstrate your company’s credibility and thought leadership.
You can even use specific kinds of visual content like live streams to demonstrate your brand’s transparency.
Methods for captivating your audience with emotion
Part of answering the question “What does captive audience mean?” today is addressing the fact that traditional marketing is on the way out. Importantly, by that, we don’t mean that there isn’t a place for direct marketing and display advertising. These more ‘old-fashioned’ forms of promotion still have a part to play in captivating an audience.
Instead, by traditional advertising, we’re referring to the ad campaigns that attempted to earn conversions by bombarding leads with messages until they made a purchase. Now that your customers have countless ways to eliminate their ‘captive’ status, you can only really capture an audience that wants to listen to what you have to say. This means that brands need to develop emotional connections with their followers and fans.
Every time you invest in captive audience advertising, you should be sharing something valuable with your customers. If all your audience sees from you is bland promotional messages and ads begging for sales, they can’t begin to develop any kind of emotional relationship. However, if you go beyond the promotional content, and start to show your brand’s unique personality, your content will instantly become more captivating.
With a focus on your target audience, look for ways to give your messages a unique voice or feel. For instance, you might use slang in your blogs to convey your informal nature, or reference experts to set yourself apart as a thought leader. Sometimes, even some unique photos or custom illustrations can be enough to set your business apart. Remember to:
Begin each campaign with a focus on solving problems for your customer.
Explore ideas from different angles so that you’re not rehashing information.
2. Leverage the fear of missing out (FOMO)
Fear of missing out is one of the most potent psychological concepts in the advertising world. Countless studies show that ‘FOMO’ may be the best way to engage in captive audience advertising because people are compelled to act faster and in different ways when they feel they only have a limited time to decide. According to research, 60% of millennials admit to making purchases just because of FOMO.
Leverage the fear of missing out with your audience, and you’ll have their undivided attention because they won’t want to risk looking elsewhere. Of course, to take advantage of this phenomenon, you’ll need to know how to manipulate your customers to some extent. A few ways that you can leverage fear of missing out include:
Running promotions for a limited period: Add a countdown clock to let people know how long they have left.
Creating ethereal content that disappears within a set period: Content created on channels like Snapchat and Instagram or Facebook Stories only lasts for so long. That makes these spaces a great place to launch limited-time promotions.
Establish exclusivity: Let people know that they can only get something by coming to you. People love being part of the ‘in’ crowd. If you can offer something that no-one else can, you’ll be more likely to generate FOMO.
3. Create brand communities
Another great way to captivate your audience through emotion is to make them feel like they have an essential connection with your company. As human beings, we all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and we give great value to the relationships that we maintain. Put it this way – you’d probably pay more attention to an email from a friend or family member, than a message from a stranger.
If you can make your leads feel as though they’re invested in your business in some way, then you can begin to reap the benefits of brand advocates and customer referrals. So, how do you create communities?
Start on social media: Social media is all about community. You can begin to leverage your relationships with customers here by hosting polls, launching competitions, and generating discussions about topics relevant to your audience.
Stand for something: Many of today’s customers are happy to pay more for an item that comes from a brand that shares their values. Millennials, in particular, are devoted to supporting companies that give something back to the planet. A CSR initiative or partnership with a local charity can build the foundation for your brand communities.
Continuously engage: Creating a captive audience in today’s world isn’t about forcing people to listen to you on a specific platform. It’s about connecting with your customer in as many different places as possible. The more channels you’re active on, the easier it is to build brand awareness (and stop your customers from avoiding you). Remember, it takes an average of 8 brand touches before customers make a purchase.
Captive audience advertising and customer experience
Today, the definition of captive audience has changed because the relationship between consumers and brands has evolved. In the past, companies wielded all the power. Before things like eCommerce and the internet, brands had absolute control over a specific segment of the market. If you wanted to buy a television, then you had to go to the closest store selling electronics.
Now, consumers are spoilt for choice. There are hundreds of organizations all capable of selling the same products for a price that suits you. On top of that, customers have the power to research the brands they buy from. We don’t have to take a company’s word as gospel anymore.
For companies to truly captivate their target market, they need to provide content, relationships, and experiences that those customers can’t get anywhere else. Here are some tips for enhancing the ‘experience’ part of that equation.
1. Commit to helping your customers
Today’s consumers want to connect with brands that they can trust to deliver a consistently great experience. This might mean ensuring that you always deliver products and services on time or answer questions quickly. 86% of customers even say that they would happily pay more for a good experience.
In today’s competitive environment, delivering that fantastic experience means doing more than just what’s expected of you. For instance, all customers expect that you’ll ship items as quickly as you can. However, offering next-day delivery could be a great way to set yourself a part as a company that truly puts the needs of your audience first.
Make your customer support initiative part of what makes your brand special and commit to delivering the kind of experience your clients simply won’t want to walk away from.
2. Understand every part of the buyer journey
Another way to make sure that you’re delivering the experiences that your customers truly want is to learn as much as you can about their consumer journey. Today’s customers connect with brands across a variety of touch-points, all the way from social media, to the conventional contact centre.
Understanding the buyer journey means that you can simplify the path to purchase every step of the way for your target audience. For instance:
If you know your customers start their purchasing journey by looking for information about your products, write blog posts, create videos, and post user-generated content to give them all the insights they need.
If your customers look for help with your products or services on social media, supplement your social media marketing plan with a customer service team that regularly answers client questions on your most active channels.
If your target audience is particularly price conscious, give them an option to compare the cost of your products with other market leaders before they go to the checkout.
3. Listen to your audience
Finally, if you want to create a captive audience that listens to you and engages with your brand, then you need to be willing to listen to them too. Oracle research shows that only 1% of all businesses consistently meet with customer expectations. If you can become one of that 1%, then you’re sure to benefit from a more captivated customer base.
Make it easier to learn what your customers think and feel about your friend by creating feedback loops. For instance, you can:
Use automated emails to ask consumers for reviews after a purchase.
Send surveys out to customers and ask them to complete them in exchange for a discount or gift.
Host polls on social media and listen to what’s being said about you by following branded hashtags and @mentions.
Define ‘captive audience’ for your brand
If you only take one lesson away from this article, it should be that the definition of ‘captive audience’ has changed.
Companies can no longer force customers to pay attention to them, in a world where countless digital escape routes are always available. If you genuinely want to learn how to excel at captive audience marketing, then you need to understand your audience and use that understanding to generate content, emotional connections, and unforgettable experiences.
Remember, as with any advertising strategy; it’s also a good idea to track and measure your campaigns. Data-driven insights from your promotional strategy, combined with reviews and feedback from your customers will help you to ensure that every brand connection is more captivating than the last.