How Identifying Offline Communities Can Amplify Your Ecommerce Marketing Campaigns

By finding the communities who are talking about your brand, you can more effectively target your marketing campaigns and drive enhanced results. Sammy Fraser, Head of Digital Strategy at Swanky, explores the psychology behind this, with help from the experts at community detection and insights platform Herdify.

As consumers, our purchases are informed by social learning. We are heavily influenced by people we know or trust in real life, often buying things based on the recommendations of our family and friends. In fact, word-of-mouth is the single biggest influence on consumer buying behaviour.1

But did you know that 92% of word-of-mouth is thought to happen offline?1

By identifying the offline communities in which word-of-mouth recommendations are being shared, brands can strategically enhance their online marketing efforts, ensuring they are targeting consumers who are primed to notice their campaigns.

This article will explore the behavioural science behind this, as well as the benefits that can come from harnessing your real-world communities. It will also introduce an innovative platform that makes it easy for retailers to detect, track and leverage offline word-of-mouth.

Familiar brands get noticed

Our brains filter out the unfamiliar. Therefore, each day we unconsciously ignore thousands of ads for products and brands that we’ve not heard of before – making ad and brand recall rates notoriously poor.

Once we’re familiar with something though, our brains are less likely to filter it out.

Offline communities are where we most often become familiar with brands. If we hear the same recommendation multiple times from different trusted sources in our local networks, this reduces the chance of our brains filtering it out.

“At Herdify, we call these communities ‘real-world communities’. They’re the locations – streets, towns and cities – where community recommendations have the most influence over buying behaviour,” explains Victoria Murden, Herdify CMO

“The reason that herd behaviour is so powerful is because humans are inherently lazy. We allow our peers to do the research for us, and then we follow. And as marketers, that presents a number of opportunities.”

Then, when we see a marketing nudge – like an advert on social media or a billboard – for a brand or a product that we already know about, we’re less likely to ignore it and instead more likely to act on it.

This graphic from Herdify summarises this nicely:

The benefits of identifying offline communities for retailers

Understanding the ‘why’ behind consumer behaviour can help you design and implement a more impactful and effective ecommerce strategy.

For retailers, identifying where people are talking about your brand in the real world provides an insight into where consumers are most familiar with your brand and therefore most likely to respond to your marketing activity.

You can then leverage this knowledge to amplify your omnichannel campaigns and drive enhanced results. For example, you can use community insights to target your social ads at people in strongest offline communities, buy outdoor media in locations where it’s more likely to be noticed, or plan a suitable location for a physical pop up store.

This data-driven approach to your marketing campaigns can lead to benefits such as:

  • increased marketing engagement;
  • better brand recall;
  • better return on ad spend (ROAS);
  • higher sales;
  • increased lifetime value;
  • lower acquisition costs;
  • lower customer support costs; and
  • amplified word-of-mouth and stronger offline communities (which makes more people familiar with your brand and increases the impact of your marketing – creating a cycle of influence and growth).

“Offline communities already exist for most brands, but by specifically targeting those locations, marketers can harness and grow brand advocacy, ultimately increasing the size of their communities,” explains Tom Ridges, Herdify CEO.

“It’s when those communities start to overlap that it becomes interesting – this is how brand awareness spreads, and how businesses such as Huel and Gymshark became category leaders.”

Ultimately, knowing where offline brand communities exist will give you a strategic advantage to target your customers and provide the well-timed marketing nudge needed to encourage a desired action.

Offline community detection and insights with Herdify

The benefits of identifying offline communities for amplifying your marketing are clear, but how do you go about detecting and tracking them?

Herdify is a community detection and insights platform, powered by predictive behavioural analytics. Leveraging customers’ first party sales data, it uses the same community modelling tools that detect virus transmission to predict where brand messages will transmit in real-world communities.

The platform’s community insights dashboard provides a window into where real-world communities have formed around your brand. These insights can then be used to plan and test data-driven omnichannel marketing campaigns across any ad platform.

Use cases for Herdify include:

1. Marketing strategy

  • Visualise, monitor and improve brand health
  • Plan physical store or pop up locations
  • Identify where brand partnerships will perform best

2. Media buying

  • Ensure door drops are directed to warm areas
  • Find the most effective locations for outdoor media
  • Measure the impact of your spend

3. Digital

  • Direct your social ad spend more efficiently
  • Target your PPC and search ads
  • Attribute indirect sales

Brands that have utilised Herdify’s insights include:

Looking for a data-driven marketing agency?

At Swanky, we pride ourselves on taking a data-driven approach to ecommerce strategy. Our Growth Accelerator team uses tools such as Herdify to provide our clients with rich insights, leveraging this data to recommend opportunities for growth.

To find out more about how our team of certified Shopify Plus Experts can unlock your ecommerce potential with our strategic marketing services, please reach out to us for a friendly conversation about your project.


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