Everyone loves a good “Before and After” picture. Let’s consider the millions of pictures that Instagram users upload every day with the title “Before” and “After”. These might be simple transformational pictures but it brings a sea of change in the form of inspiration. So if just a few pictures can do so much for inspiring the population of the world to change or better themselves, then something like Digital Marketing will be like a wave of tsunami sized proportions for the Business world. The world of advertising also has one of those “Before and After” pictures; as each technological advance passes by in a flash but still dies a quiet death, digital technology seems to be one thing that is here to stay. For example – earlier attempts of advertising was to introduce the campaigns through key channels of those times like television or print media, but now with digital technology as part of advertising there’s been a shift in content to smaller screens i.e. our electronic devices like smartphones, strategies have seen a fresh lease of life ensuring that marketing is anything but traditional these days. This transition is a welcome change which heralds a new age of digital marketing along with best practices that ensure that your company stands out in the throng.
The interactions, work, purchases and life habits of the present generation is greatly influenced by digital marketing and this comes as no surprise in our technology driven society. Utilizing the digital universe to maximize their brand awareness and impact is what companies should be looking to add to their marketing repertoire.
Digital marketing is undergoing a major transformation and brands are challenged every day with the task of real time communications with customers through all these devices and design campaigns that work across all platforms like – social media, display advertising, and e-commerce.
So let’s look at a few ways that digital marketing has changed and keeps changing the way businesses and brands operate.
1) Speed, relevance, and reach of campaigns.
Social media marketing
Earlier, as part of the company’s marketing strategy, potential customers were contacted and given a spiel of the company’s marketing message with some added benefits thrown in along with the product or service to entice the person to convert to your brand. So there were a lot of emails or calls made to the customer to describe the product and service. Digital has changed all that with the advent of Social media marketing, now companies are advertising their products and services in public platform and directly interacting with people too, thus it has become a channel wherein promoting products, services and sending transparent messages to the customer has become infinitely easier.
But then as technology evolved so did digital marketing and now campaigns are more personalized to the consumer with the introduction of a new player in the game, Smartphones. But there too there’s a lot of apps which are being introduced daily but fizzle out and die soon, the Economist reports that about a quarter of all apps that are downloaded ended up being uninstalled and abandoned after just one use. But instant messaging apps have survived against all these odds and emerged the winner!
With mobile devices and apps one–on-one messaging and private chat groups have become a raging trend and you’ll find that teenagers especially spend more time on these rather than other social media apps. Take WhatsApp for example, with over 1 billion users worldwide this instant messaging app is way above all its competitors and shows no intention of ever slowing down. And the app itself keeps updating, adding new features often to ensure that it stays on top. Tech savvy companies, in an effort to tap into this burgeoning market, are researching and introducing methods of connecting with, and marketing to their potential clients via these apps.
2) Content Shock
Between social media and messaging apps, just how much content could be distributed? The answer is colossal; a new term has been coined for the phenomenon of content overloading – it’s called a content shock, that’s how colossal it is! There are about 3.3 million people posting on Facebook every 60 seconds, and the number of messages distributed via Whatsapp is roughly 29 million in the same time, so if marketers want to get their message across and their brand noticed by the people using these applications, they definitely have their work cut out for them.
Content shock is a tough thing to surpass and few marketers will be successful in overcoming this and it poses quite a lethal threat to your marketing strategy. How do you overcome it then? One thing you can try is to market to your audience individually. Another way is if your brand is an old and renowned one, people tend to trust that which they already know rather than experiment with something new. There are very few risk takers out there and credibility is important for those that aren’t risk takers. It won’t work if your content is just remarkable, distribution of said content should be done effectively as well and your content should be significantly shareable to be content shock proof.
3) Swimming in a sea of Data
Effective utilization of the droves of data that is available is very much the need of the hour. Knowledge about their customers is easily obtained because of the modern technology available at everyone’s fingertips and where and when of how this data should be utilized is what companies should learn now. Here are some great ways to achieve this:
- Key metrics essential for your company’s success.
If you know what your organization wants to get from the data then you have the key to get the impact you want from that data. Being very specific about what the outcomes are and put that together into how the data is measured and how it impacts on the wider business is vital here.
- Choose the right customer channels
Choosing the right customer channels which will pay off, in the end, is essential and it needs to be those that engage with the customer in a meaningful way so a relationship between a customer and the brand is formed.
Identifying those channels is easy with the wide range of technologies and channels available now.
- Employ people with the right skills
Analytical skills are a must for processing the droves of data. Without the skills to know what to do with it, all the data in the world is pretty much useless. Understanding the behavior and grievances of a consumer can only be done from insights from data what can drive a business and help them understand the customer’s point of view.
- Personalized and customer focused content
Knowing who the target audience is and creating content that keeps them engaged is very important as this is your only way of overcoming the content shock and the chance for your brand to create any real impact.
Customers today want to know about the companies they interact with and purchase from especially with today’s digitally enabled world. Building trust and loyalty among its clients should be a brand’s first focus. Being transparent and demonstrating their personality and the company’s ethos online helps a lot in achieving that particular goal. Particularly if you’re dealing with food products, today’s consumer is more informed and knowledgeable, thanks to the digitally enabled world, and want to know exactly what’s in the things they eat.
Several aspects count when we say transparency, like how employees are treated to how it gives back to society. For example: Recently there was a video posted online of an employee at Hermes, the fashion house famous for its leather goods beating an alligator strung upside down violently. People were outraged at the treatment meted out to the poor animal and several people stopped buying from the brand.
This is why you need transparency; you don’t want someone to post some kind of dirt that they’ve dug up on you, all your credibility vanishes in an instant! Nobody will buy from you if your clothes originated from a sweatshop, let alone that your brand has been around since the beginning of time! Digital leaders need to take this into account and ensure that their customers are provided with relevant information, be it sordid or respectable.
5) Forges a strong bond
With the digitization data about the potential customers is easy to gather and businesses can learn a lot about their customers and how to cater to them. The younger generation will lap up anything if it’s personalized to their tastes, so this where companies have to don their smart suits create extremely personal marketing messages using the data that they’ve previously obtained.
For the millennials, how others perceive them and social goings-on seems to be a driving motivator, so this is where personalization becomes a powerful tool which you need to exploit.
One example to consider is Pepperfry, the online furniture shop in India.
A few years into the business and being established as a successful brand they decided to thank their customers and took to social media to do the same. They put a post on Facebook asking customers to post pictures of recent buys and give their feedback openly under the same post. The result – they had thousands of satisfied customers posting openly on the thread and most of them were happy thankful messages, the few grievances that were posted were addressed immediately. Pepperfry then took it a step further and thanked each customer who posted individually and sent surprise gifts to them along with brochures and recommendations for them. This saw an increase in brand loyalty as well as a hike in sales too.
6) Hire Micro influencers or be an influencer
’Regular’ or normal people like you and I have become incredibly influential and that’s because Social media and video outlets like YouTube enable us to be so. Celebrities are no longer the only ones hired to endorse the company’s products to get millions of people interested in their product or service.
Of late, ordinary people with droves of followers on social media and no other credentials have the ability to influence people (followers) just by endorsing a company’s product.
For example George Calombaris is a celebrity chef who also happens to be a judge on Masterchef Australia, he is followed by about 209,000 people on Instagram. But the influence and engagement rate he has is nothing compared to that of Joy the baker who is a New Orleans based cook followed by 410,000 people! So Joy is a micro influencer!
People are getting bored of advertisements these days, your interaction with the client or audience should be beyond just regular product placement and play to this with any new strategy you think up.
7) Learn, relearn and keep learning!
Change in the world of Digital technology happens at an incredibly fast pace, often overnight. Because of its relentless pace, employees across departments are required to be agile, work in synergy and most importantly stay up to date with development so they have the adroitness to adapt and use these changes to the company’s benefit.
Employees need to be educated often on the developments to achieve this. Personnel that are up-skilled in the latest and most relevant technologies, strategies and techniques will be more proactive and able to predict and prepare for what is coming down the line and recognize how their brand can use these changes to their advantage.
In short, businesses across all walks should be aware of the swiftness of change and invest in initiatives for learning and development to guarantee that their digital marketing and selling tactics of their workforce is cutting edge, to achieve digital success.
8) Innovate and educate
Brands are being forced to be more innovative and are using new ways to reach out and engage with their customers because of the change in the landscape. Many sectors are being more creative and take initiatives which allow them to compete, even in the face of disrupters.
For many, the best way to achieve this seemed to be to collaborate with the up and coming disrupters with fresh and new ideas.
9) Better Brands
A faceless, cold, corporate picture – if your brand represents this, you’ll end up pushing people away. Humans trust other humans so any company’s marketing strategy should have a human approach, social media marketing at the front and center is the best way to win the customer over because of its popularity and the influence it exerts, customers need to trust and understand the company they are buying from and social media. In simple words, the customer expects you to talk “human”, meaning in a language they’ll understand so skip the jargon that only means something to you. It might seem fancy, but jargon only confuses people and might alienate them.
Taco Bell, for example, is one sassy player on social media. Their twitter account has content that is very creative, witty and to the point. It’s not just updates or additions on their menu, but friendly banter with their faithful clientele and some sassy, funny comebacks to the haters as well. Sometimes they even go so far as to call out on other brands. They’ve gone from being just another fast food chain to one with an entertaining and engaging personality that people look forward to hearing from every day. That’s the way to humanize a brand!
To wrap up, the bottom line is that investing in a sort of “cultural radar” by keeping abreast of developing technology and platforms while investing in digitally savvy employees who can understand the customer’s journey and interpret the data to figure out edifying insights is what brands need to do if they want to be successful now and in the foreseeable future. A brand which can adopt these methods and adapt itself to these changes will surge light years ahead of other contenders who don’t.
Remember a strong idea which is just a nugget, in the beginning, can grow tremendously if only you have the reach to expand on the idea and that reach is possible if you understand and implement digital marketing strategies properly.