Marketing success today depends on customers seeing, engaging with -- and sharing -- your content within their trusted social networks. The path to purchase no longer looks the same to everyone, and it requires a very unique level of engagement.
Take millennials: This demographic has fully embraced brands on social media. They use social networks to find brands' content, rather than relying on traditional means like email and search engines. They have customized the way they find their news, or rather, they have customized the way their news finds them. This makes the conventional marketing funnel irrelevant as a result and traditional campaigns extinct. The challenge for marketers is to break through the overcrowded personal junk filters set by millennials with relevant, valuable, non-promotional interactions.
To prepare for the customer of the future, marketers will need to earn the trust of these millennials. Brands should make it a priority to build customer experiences that are ongoing, consistent, meaningful and mutually-rewarding. Marketers can gain competitive advantage by leveraging data to understand and participate in the natural buying cycles that customers create as well.
To get on the path toward the future of marketing, there are a few key points to consider.
Data, Data, Data
Marketers need to determine a strategy for collecting and using customer data. Brands should always ask customers to opt-in and respect preferences regarding interaction platforms, frequency, etc. -- but if they are simply collecting data and adding it to a database, they’re on their way to extinction.
Focus on viewing customer data as a key source of intelligence -- it can be extremely useful for segmentation and targeting. When done right, targeted marketing messages add value for customers. Done wrong, they can appear offensive or intrusive. Millennials will share information, but they need to trust the brand first. Sixty percent are more likely to share this personal information with a brand they trust, and 54 percent will share more data if it means more relevant offers for them. It’s important to use customer data deliberately to deliver consistent, considerate and relevant messages. Once that credibility is created, millennials -- and all customers -- begin being brand advocates.
Real Time Reporting
Measurement and reporting are critical, and even more so in a post-campaign era. Marketing operations must be agile to reinforce what’s working -- and immediately reconfigure what isn't. There are technology solutions to help brands focus on what matters: bringing the consumer fresh, innovative resources. By tracking data daily, the right information will yield the right offer at the right time. Don’t wait for an end-of-the-month post-mortem on your efforts. Review the data in near real time and adapt. An agile approach will help messages stand out and remain applicable at every touch point.
Relationships vs. Lead Numbers
Fostering customer relationships is always a challenge. Consumers are blasted with marketing messages, and they tend to tune them out -- email blasts and generic content are ignored. Marketers need to the focus on initiatives that not only build awareness, but also cultivate referrals. This means that brands now need to find out where their customers are, and bring the information to them.
Social intelligence allows organizations to listen to customers -- not only engage with them. Brands can more effectively predict buying behaviors and have more opportunities to engage with the customer in a two-way dialogue. Remember, growing a relationship with customers is not always about getting the sale. A personalized experience and relationship, rather than an aggressive marketing campaign, is what ultimately generates leads in the long run.
In the future, mutually-rewarding customer relationships will vastly outperform campaigns, and as a result, one-way, mass-market spam campaigns will be extinct. Brands should start to focus more on the personalized customer experience -- the successful marketers will leverage data to better understand and participate in the natural buying cycles that customers create. CMOs should make sure they are ready for tomorrow’s customer today.
Title image by carl ballou (Shutterstock)