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PHOTO: The Ian

What’s the difference between taking advantage of an opportunity and shouting into the void? The answer, as usual, is strategy.

Too many marketers continue to create content and advertisements as if each piece exists in a vacuum. Even when marketers design funnels to guide prospective buyers toward purchases, customers frequently break the rules, attempting to engage in ways the company didn’t anticipate. By artificially limiting touchpoints, businesses accidentally push away some of the people who could become their most enthusiastic customers.

Marketing funnels attempt to guide prospects toward a single destination when companies should welcome engagement from all directions. Why limit demand generation to specific audiences? Companies that tie themselves to old-school marketing practices put unnecessary constraints on their ability to grow.

In today’s markets, the path to success starts with the destruction of the old marketing funnel. Break free from tradition and transcend the marketing half-truths of yesterday by creating processes that facilitate continuous engagement.

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Clarify Your Brand’s Voice

Omnichannel marketing depends on a consistent voice across channels. Whether on Instagram, email, on billboards or speaking with service reps, customers should hear a consistent message. When that doesn’t happen, the message of the brand gets lost and customers begin to view the company as undifferentiated.

No brand wants to blend in with the crowd. Clarify your brand’s voice by creating a style guide to inform the development of marketing materials, then use the same information to develop customer interaction policies. Consider using a catchphrase, like Chick-fil-A’s famous “My pleasure!” to hammer the point home.

Use a CRM, like HubSpot or Salesforce, to track customer engagements and ensure reps, marketers, and salespeople always have the latest information. You can also use a PingPilot Signal to route customers back to the same dedicated service agents, which ensures the conversation and message remain consistent with a click-to-human experience.

Related Article: Blend Content Creation and Curation to Create Your Brand's Unique Voice

Create More Granular Content

In the past, marketers focused on static messages that hit multiple audiences at once, like billboards and television commercials. Traditional media still plays a role, but now marketers have a host of digital options to complement or replace old-school communication methods. By creating granular content, companies can develop more effective campaigns that maintain consistent messages while speaking to different audiences in different places.

Granular content refers to the small pieces of marketing materials marketers can use and reuse to create a variety of new and larger pieces. Take social media, for example. Instead of developing separate campaigns and content pieces for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, develop a core set of assets that tell a single story, then use those assets across each channel. Twitter and LinkedIn might share the same short video but include different calls to action. By using performance video, brands can take their video marketing efforts to even greater heights.

Granular content pieces that become individual ads allow consumers to interact with the brand in the ways they prefer without sacrificing consistency in the process. Develop content from the top, then follow best practices to transform that content into context-appropriate deliverables.

Related Article: 10 Reasons to Ditch Your Marketing Funnel Report

Leverage User Contributions to Create Continuous Engagement

People love to hear from other people, even people they’ve never met. Leverage the power of social proof in advertising to make marketing feel less like a campaign and more like a community. Companies that focus on community can engage with target customers without an agenda, which helps prospects feel more comfortable and more likely to become fans of the brand.

By shifting from a funnel focus to a community focus, brands inspire current fans to bring others into the fold. Referral bonuses and loyalty programs can help speed this process along. Throughout audience engagement, continue to collect and promote user-generated content while maintaining a focus on granularity. Those pieces will help the brand earn the trust of people outside core fans while inspiring current fans to deepen their engagement and make new purchases.

Continuous engagement doesn’t happen by accident, nor does it sustain itself without input. Fans should feel like they’re the ones driving the movement, but the company can’t take its foot off the gas. As users contribute more, the company amplifies their voices and creates an ecosystem in which people feel fulfilled by their connections to the brand and to one another.

Call it a marketing funnel or a flywheel, but don’t follow it blindly. Customers are hungry for something that goes beyond transactional relationships. Clarify the company’s voice, and use that voice to facilitate deeper connections, break free from the shackles of tradition, and develop a marketing system that delivers long-term success.

Related Article: Apple Doesn't Hide Its Customer Community, So Why Do You?