Marketing Today: Do You Have to Go Digital or Go Home?
News outlets, blogs, online conferences and marketing gurus are urging marketers to go digital as soon as possible, but not many offer the key elements of this transformation. So I prepared some examples and tips to help you better understand the what are the components of digital transformation in marketing and how to implement them effectively in order to improve your reach, customer engagement, sales and finally, profits.
Entrepreneurs, managers, sales managers and marketing professionals, the era of digital transformation in the business world is here and settled. It’s high time you pick up the pace and plan the necessary strategic steps in digitalization of all departments.
A survey conducted by SEO and content marketing company BrightEdge shows that most of the 252 in-house marketing professionals they approached, all working for medium and big sized businesses, are well estimating the digital changes following, but not planning to adapt their strategies this year.
The latest technology will not necessarily be the next big thing on the market, but testing its powers on focus groups can reveal if it’s the next big thing for your business.
Preparing for Marketing Digitalization
1) Assess Your Customer Experience Performance
In the age of social media interaction, brands become vulnerable to consumers. They can no longer rely on carefully controlled marketing campaigns. Their public persona depends on the way their customers perceive them.
There is the material component of the customer interaction, which tackles the qualities and flaws of commercialized services and products, but also an emotional component, depending on how the client feels about interacting with the brand. In the digital era, the emotional component is always present: brand's reach to customers through the apps they use and web pages they access. Every up-to-date marketing campaign is customer-centric, otherwise, the company loses money, according to this recent Oracle survey.
But as you pave your way to your audience’s heart, stop from time to time to measure your performance with customer experience metrics. The CSAT, Customer Satisfaction Score, targets customers response to a single transaction. NPS, The Net Promoter, tells marketers if clients would further recommend the brand after a purchase, while CES, the Customer Effort Score, let's customer rate from 1-5 the amount of effort they put forth in handling their own request.
2) Understand the Resources and Threats Big Data Presents
Data's here and data’s there, there’s Big Data everywhere. And new-horizon technologies like the Internet of Things and blockchain will amplify and make it even more accessible. Companies thrive on information, but do they thrive on useful insights? In this case, the path from knowledge and action can be traveled through interpretation.
Complex analytics can help a company design their strategy or how they take pricing decisions, their human resources approach and advertising directions. Advanced analytics take into account diverse factors as economic changes and sales representative agreements. Moreover, tools like Zapier and IFTTT help marketers and managers automate processes by cutting down task duration and by offering filtered information fast.
Here you can find some useful automation scenarios from Aplittude.
3) Get Some Specialists on Your Team
While you can teach yourself to think strategy in digital terms, digital specialists will direct your efforts in the right way. And as I mentioned above how Big Data is becoming more complex, I can give you the solution: a big data scientist.
Medium and big-sized companies can’t put the burden of getting big data insights on the marketing team without having the right person to collect it and turn it into consumer behavior predictions.
Also, marketing technologists are a necessity in the digital age. This hybrid employee helps all strategists and creatives find and adopt tech solutions in order to meet their goals.
4) Become AI Literate
Artificial Intelligence is gradually becoming the core of successful customer experience by slipping into the everyday lives of people. One of the most important ranking systems of Google, RankBrain, is based on a machine learning system and It processes all Google searches. Marketing theorists and specialists are still trying to understand the way it works in order to influence their rankings. Smart homes and appliances and evolving virtual assistants shape the future consumer: a highly demanding one, expecting brands to anticipate needs and surround him with new experiences.
So, even if you enrich your marketing department with tech-oriented specialists, you still need to effectively communicate with them and understand the basic concepts that shape new technologies. Here is a guide explaining notions like algorithms, supervised learning, and natural language processing.
5) Gather Relevant Customer Data
A study performed in mid-2015 shows that most marketers were still stuck on basic data like name, location, and demographics. You can now investigate your audience from all over the world thoroughly and don’t miss this chance while you still have it.
Brands need to track all interactions with customers, be it digital or offline and investigate the lifestyles, online preferences, and purchases of consumers in order to feed analytical tools with relevant information. If your insights are based on information that is too general, they will fail to translate into ROI-generating techniques.
Implement the Change
1) Start with the Basics
Different content and social media platforms give you access to different consumer categories, but your website is still your business card. Make your about section brief and clear and use it to communicate your brand story. A trending improvement is adding chatbots to landing pages.
Though chatbots are automated systems based on simple predefined texts, they still manage to turn a solitary customer action into a dialogue. It also lets your human employees tackle complex inquiries, while the bot can offer general and repetitive information and advertise new offers, product launches, and upcoming sales. Bots can be integrated into social apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram.
Further on, optimize for mobile. Americans spend 86% of their mobile time using apps. Apps offer enhanced customer interactions, they are an efficient advertising message vehicle, while generally allowing greater connectivity between brands and users.
2) Mind Your SEO Strategy
Google has been continuously improving its user experience by constantly updating its algorithm with tools that penalized spam (Penguin, Panda, Top Heavy) and highlighted quality (Mobile Friendly). By introducing machine learning in its ranking system, Google encourages relevance in content creation. No more black hat techniques in optimization! Don’t create around keywords, but around concepts.
In order to build your brand’s way up, you need to focus on authority sources to support the information you provide, but also to build backlinks to renowned sites and establish relationships with same-niche sites for linking opportunities. Moreover, the development of accelerated mobile apps (AMPs) will make mobile search engine optimization become a necessity.
Marketers’ optimization efforts should cover multimedia content: podcasts, videos, music playlists and video playlists. Content is king, but writing is not. Development of 360 videos and VR experiences hint that content of the future needs to be diverse and immersive.
3) Be Multi-Platform Present
Preference for a certain platform or social media channel changes from one age category to another, so you need an omnichannel presence to be visible to people of all ages. However, make sure your message stays the same among all platforms and that you are equally accessible on all of them. But even more important is to research your audience’s interests and come up with content that is interesting for them.
When you plan your social media content, forget for a moment that you are selling something and think you just want consumers to like you. You have to get their attention first, build on that with more content that comes in response to their needs and then place your promotional messages.
“The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information. It doesn’t degrade users by telling them what to do, but rather respects them and provides them with the assurance that they know best how to use the material.” (source)
If your content is appealing, you can adapt and share it from one channel to another. The essentials of a longer Facebook post can be summarized in a tweet, while Instagram photos can be shared on Facebook. Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook all feature the option of building stories. Techies even predict a possible story search emerging from this trend.
4) Experiment with Video
“It is counterintuitive to celebrate failures as well as successes. But that is precisely what needs to happen if companies wish to spark a culture of innovation”( Ganesh Ayyar, CEO of Mphasis)
60 % of businesses are planning to increase their video marketing spending in 2017. By 2017, online video will account for 74% of all online traffic. Videos are dynamic and engaging and people not only enjoy watching it, but they also become creators.
Users are experimenting with Instagram Stories, Facebook Live Feeds, vines or vlogging and so should your brand. Don’t obsess over pixels, an honest phone camera pick of your staff before a general meeting or a live transmission from your production process will generate more clicks than stock photography. Additionally, don’t neglect Youtube optimization- description, tags, playlist names and video titles can all be keyword driven.
Take a look at these study cases and get your inspiration from of brands that master video social media campaigns.
5) Practice Personalization
In the first part of this article, I advised on gathering detailed information about customers in order to improve analytical insights. Real-time social data like comments likes and follows are pointing out in the direction of purchase intentions defining a certain moment. By collecting social media data you can identify consumers that are genuinely interested in your products and services and aim your advertising efforts to them.
Once you have found your target audience, dig deeper into data about them and divide them into smaller groups. Find out their patterns and target your messaging for each group. This will add value to every dollar spent on your online campaigns, while also helping you meet customer's expectations.
Brands around the world have made huge efforts to impress their customers. Spotify personalized playlists for its users through its “Discover Weekly” feature, while Amazon shows each visitor's products according to their online interests.
6) Encourage Responsive Behaviour
Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, said that for brands looking to grow in the digital medium should target three areas: “focusing on your brand mission”, “building communities” and “engaging that community” for the long-term.
First, you need to see your customer not only as your public but also as your partner for debate. With this in mind, the experiences you design will always include an actionable part. Encourage sharing, tagging and create hashtags, but also ask for opinions. Also, answer to all clients private or public messages. Further on, use your social media to highlight stories of your customers or include them in the creation of your campaigns like clothing brand Patagonia did.
Encouraging communication with your clients in the digital world starts with your website. Besides chatbots and virtual assistants, you can run annual surveys to assess your performance and you should pay attention to your mobile app rating. Acquiring customers is much more expensive than retaining them.
In the near future, the Internet of Things, Voice Searches, and Hyperlocal searches are predicted to be the next things to shake the marketing world. Companies will get closer and closer to the intimate universe of customers, but they will also have to put up with higher demands in terms of service and product delivery.
Digital technology products are quickly evolving and marketing specialists are facing challenging times ahead. They need to keep their ears open to the news, be ready to understand new concepts and rapidly include them in their strategies. The problem is not outsmarting the competition, but keeping up with customers and their preferences.
It seems that in the future only change will be constant and in order to be ever-adaptable to new technologies, trends, and platforms you need to pay attention to your company’s identity, reinforce its values and boost your brand story. Your brand’s adaptation to novelty depends on the consistency of its core components.
© 2017 Philip Piletic