It’s fairly clear that the way people buy has evolved, and companies are not only vying for customers against their business competitors, but they’re actually competing for their customers’ attention within a crowded online landscape. It is forcing marketers to reconsider the way they market, and the tools they use to market with. The result is a bigger portion of their marketing budgets are being allocated to technology, digital marketing, and sales and marketing automation.
According to a recent survey of marketing executives by Gartner, Inc., on average, Digital Marketing budgets will rise by 10 percent in 2014, following a similar increase in the previous year. Gartner’s Managing Vice President Yvonne Genovese reports that marketing leaders are securing bigger budgets to define markets, develop relevant offerings, and attract, acquire and retain customers.
These statistics are reflective of the increasing emphasis on digital marketing. It also speaks to the kind of ‘switched on’ world we all live in today, which involves going where consumers are gathering, listening, responding, and then engaging them with relevant content and using data to make content speak to them on a personal level.
So, what is required to effectively market under these new conditions? To succeed in the digital age and make the most of your increased marketing budgets, you’ll want to make sure that these three tools are in your marketing repertoire.
Customer Engagement Strategy: it’s so much more about conversations, not ad campaigns. They say that 60-70% of the buying process occurs before the consumer even talks to the vendor. This speaks volumes about the available information consumers have easy access to today, allowing them to conduct their own independent research about the product or service they’re in the market for. Effectively, this means that marketers need to shift their focus to conversations with their customers, rather than big budget spends on slick ad campaigns, if they want to survive in this new era of the empowered consumer.
Increasingly, consumers view ad campaigns as obnoxiously loud noise, and just because it’s loud doesn’t make it compelling or convincing. Marketers must learn how to engage in that small window of consumer conversation, and to be able to hold the attention. And there really is only one way to get invited into that conversation. In a nutshell, it comes down to ‘Content’ and having something interesting to say, and this has clearly become the new domain of the marketer.
Content Marketing Strategy: catchy, relevant and useful content is still “KING”. The role of today’s marketer has shifted largely due to the change in the buying process. The new breed of consumers is smart enough to seek out their own information, and if as a marketer you can’t contribute something that is attention grabbing and useful at the right time, you won’t deserve to get invited into the conversation. According to Paul Greenberg, popularly known as “the Godfather of CRM”, marketers must appeal to the 21st Century digital customer and that means using tools, such as visual content, humor and storytelling to capture an audience, and keep consumers looking.
Data Driven Marketing: authentic, personalized relationships are key. Detailed data allows marketers to get intimately acquainted with their customers and engage in an authentic relationship with them. The metadata surrounding your consumers is what will allow you to create very specific targeted segments. World-class marketers like Amazon take this to another level by creating “segments of one”, or micro-segments that market to each customer uniquely…people love anything that feels like VIP treatment, and that’s what individualized relationships convey. They are only made possible by advances in technology and the ability to capture this consumer metadata. In turn, this will translate into dramatically improved customer conversion rates.
The second piece of the puzzle, the data measurement, allows marketers to know exactly what is working and not working, and gives them the ammunition to prove or disprove the effect of what they are doing, and to react accordingly. Of course, if you get these three digital marketing requirements right, then you’re going to need to respond to customers in real (or as close to) time, and without the correct tools that can access millions of conversations that are going on, this ideal would be impossible to achieve. That’s where Marketing Automation enters the picture, and allows marketing conversations to occur on a one-to-one basis…But more on that in an upcoming post. For now, let’s conclude by saying that marketers are spending increasing amounts on technology, digital marketing, and sales and marketing automation. By mastering the three core digital marketing competencies of Customer Engagement, Content Marketing and Data Driven Marketing, you’ll be well on the road to getting the biggest bang for your digital marketing buck.