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Mind the gap! Marketers underinvest in the advertising channel ‘most trusted by consumers’ 


London, 29th June 2022: Despite being the most trusted source of advertising for consumers, referral accounts for just a small proportion of spend by brands. That’s according to Mention Me’s Customer Advocacy Gap report, a study of 2,000 consumers and 500 senior marketers uncovering a ‘gaping chasm’ between brand and customer behaviour. 

As well as underinvesting in the most trusted advertising channel (voted into top spot by 40% of consumers), the research also highlighted that marketers are overinvesting in the channel trusted least by consumers: social media (30%).

Commenting on the study, Andy Cockburn, Co-Founder and CEO of Mention Me, said: “This report should form a stark warning to marketers.”

According to the research, conducted by OnePoll, 63% of marketers spend most on social media, followed by TV (13%) and direct mail (7%). Just 4% of marketers spend most on referral marketing – despite the overwhelming majority (96%) recognising it as an important channel.

Cockburn said: “This research raises an obvious question: if marketers know referral is an important channel – and consumers trust it most –  why isn’t it higher up the priority list? The obvious answer is that most marketers don’t know how to approach the challenge of driving growth through referrals. Given the changes to third-party cookies and spiraling costs in social media advertising, this is a core capability that all marketers should learn about and adopt if they want to succeed, especially in a more challenging economic environment.”

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The study also found 59% of consumers have recommended at least one brand in the last month, rising to 89% over all time, demonstrating the frequency with which consumers tell their friends, family and colleagues about the brands they love.

The report also highlighted other major gaps between marketer and consumer behaviour. Email ranked as the most used channel for customer communication (used by 77% of marketers), followed by social media (72%) and telephone (55%). Though email is consumers’ preferred method of communication with brands, just 15% say it makes them likely to buy again – a number at odds with the 52% of senior marketers using it as a repeat purchase tactic. 

Unsurprisingly, discounts prove the biggest motivator for a consumer to buy again from a brand (53%), followed by loyalty and referral rewards. Social media once more falls to the bottom of the list, with just 10% of consumers saying it motivates them to make a repeat purchase. 

Cockburn added: “These findings highlight the importance of brands finding new ways to reach target consumers and serve experiences that keep them coming back. Instead of relying on short-term tactics like paid search and social, marketers should prioritise treating their customers well and rewarding them for introducing friends to the brand. This will create a powerful cycle of growth that solves for long-term success, while gathering rich first-party referral data that can enhance other marketing channels.”


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