4 Ways Brands Are Using Creativity to Drive Sales Online

Opinion: While creativity gives edge to online advertising, how it’s applied is what matters the most

The core function of any business is to make money as it provides solutions to existing problems. And for a business to make money, its sales department must be on its toes at all times.

With the rise of the internet and fast technology advancement, digital advertising has proven more effective in driving sales than traditional advertising ever did.

More and more people are online, and business have made efforts to reach the consumers. As technology continues to advance at a high speed, giving way to new avenues like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, brands have to be creative if they are to stay competitive.

While creativity gives edge to online advertising, how it’s applied is what matters the most. A study by Harvard Business Review found that businesses realize higher sales when they use these creativity techniques: originality, elaboration and artistic value. A combination of the three gives better results as the audience is more intrigued and, hence, the message and the brand in general stays on their mind for longer.

Take Coca-Cola: When the brand started its “Share a Coke” campaign, it became a top trending topic on social media globally and increased sales by 2 percent in the U.S. alone. To date, the campaign remains memorable, and this year’s “Share an Ice Cold Coke” is expected to win more sales, especially with the new addition of last names making it more personal.

While Coca-Cola reigns when it comes to its online campaigns and driving sales with one creative ad after another, there are other brands taking creativity a notch higher.

The following are examples of how brands are using creativity to drive sales online:

Use of gaming

Gaming platforms are currently being used by brands as a marketing platform to help increase awareness and sales. This is commonly done through ad pop-ups and banners, but this has proved annoying to most users.

In a 2016 study, it emerged that at least 16 percent of the world’s smartphone users are blocking ads when browsing on their devices, with downloads for in-application ad-blocking apps increasing significantly.

So, how can brands leverage the large number of people who love games?

They create their own games. Brandlift is one such company. Tired of pitching the same company presentations over and over, the digital agency decided to use creativity as part of its strategy.

It created an arcade game featuring its own personal characters and telling its company history. The game uncovers the company’s portfolio and shares information on colleagues and key clients, as well as important projects the company has worked on. These are uncovered through unlocking secrets as you play the game.

Below is a screenshot demonstrating one of Brandlift’s projects in the game.

Brandlift is just one example. More and more brands are embracing this effective technique to increase customer loyalty, improve on consumer engagement and, ultimately, drive sales.

Virtual experiential marketing

Experiential marketing remains a great strategy for driving sales for any business. The act of face-to-face experiences between a brand and its customers creates an enriching bond that lasts long after the event. This helps create an attachment, leading the customer into freely promoting and recommending the brand’s products and services.

According to a study conducted on this particular technique and its impact on improving online sales, 65 percent of brands that use experiential marketing said it positively correlates with sales. Like any other strategy existing in the digital era, the trend is now changing to accommodate technology.

Brands are slowly moving from traditional onsite events to virtual places thanks to the rise of AI and virtual reality. By incorporating VR in marketing campaigns and involving users in the process, brands are making sure they remain memorable.

New Jersey DUI Lawyers founder and CEO Jonathan Marshall said:

We’ve tried reaching more clients for our legal business, but we started experiencing more turnout from digital marketing when we started testing virtual experiential marketing. We use virtual experiential marketing all the time in our practice. In fact, this is one of the most effective methods to garner brand loyalty and create a marketing army for our firm.

With virtual experiential marketing, brands are also able to incorporate visual and audio tools when creating their websites in order to engage visitors at a more personal level.

Another alternative is where brands make games and apps available on social platforms and on their websites, incorporating virtual rewards. Brands like Mastercard and USA Network’s Psych have successfully used games to increase their consumer base. Another good example is Coca-Cola with Santa’s Virtual Reality Sleigh Ride.

Promotional email marketing

How often do you receive an email in your inbox from a brand you subscribed to? Brands have realized that email marketing still works, even as technology keeps changing the way businesses conduct their digital marketing.

Like in traditional in-store marketing, which remains effective to a great extent in the retail business, service-based brands are using email more creatively to drive sales. Also, with the rise of virtual products like e-books and e-learning courses, promotional email marketing has become a great tool in driving online sales.

But brands must be creative in their emails in order to convert subscribers to purchase their products and services. There must apply originality, artistic value and elaboration creatively for their email campaigns to remain relevant.

Using email marketing, Auto Loan has been able to make a profit despite people having more cons of long-term auto loans than pros. The founder of Auto Loan said:

Email is still one of the best channels out there, but almost everyone is doing it now. You have to know how to weave in creativity.

In order to influence your subscribers to make a purchasing decision, you must constantly provide original material that is unique to your brand, elaborate the impact buying a product or service will have on the subscriber and wrap it all in a visually attractive email.

Use of comedy and rewards in company ads

Creativity should also have a humor twist in order to be persuasive and increase online sales. According to 2016 research conducted in 42 countries on ad reaction, humor was the one thing keeping users in 30 of the countries surveyed from skipping online ads.

While some brands may excel at incorporating humor in their digital marketing strategies, others are now using rewards in their videos to keep users engaged––most people lose interest with a video in only the first 10 seconds of watching it.

A good example of this is with YouTube, where ad videos play before the actual video you were interested in starts. The ads or videos that go straight to the point, use comedy or humor, appear intriguing and exciting in the first few seconds and will get the most complete views.

They will also get the users interested in learning more, which is measured by the number of clicks. But if they lack these aspects, users will keep skipping the ad.

To drive sales for your brand in these technology-changing times, you must be willing to be a little more creative than your competitors.

With AI, AR and VR predicted to have a huge impact on digital marketing in the next five years, it may be time to start experimenting on more creative solutions which lean on these technologies.

From gaming software to interactive email marketing to virtual experiential marketing, the opportunities are endless.

James Jorner is a content strategist and marketer at Effective Inbound Marketing. His company specializes in online branding and digital marketing for businesses.

Image courtesy of Ukususha/iStock.