We all know that good relationships take effort, time, and a personal investment. The same holds true for establishing relationships between brands and consumers.
Brands that demonstrate the ability to anticipate their targets’ needs and be interesting will be rewarded with more loyal followers and consumers advocating their products for them. Yet, despite spending trillions of dollars globally on marketing efforts to create better relationships, many brands are still unable to reach consumers as well as they’d like to, and they lack the data to refine the engagement they do have.
As a substitute, marketers devise expensive multichannel campaigns by segment–often failing to achieve and sustain higher conversion rates, increased lifetime customer value, or share of wallet so many marketing teams live and die by.
What’s missing in their engagement strategies?
To begin, many brands don’t interact with consumers as the individuals they are. Aggregating data about all interactions with an individual into a master marketing record can enable marketers to achieve hypersegmentation–in short, a segment of one individual, not just a block of individuals who receive the same communication, the same way, as part of a traditional one-way, mass-audience campaign. Just like a good friend knows more about us than anyone, brands need a master marketing record to build a more complete picture of the individual, and leverage that context to foster a more meaningful relationship.
Potential strategy: Pick a robust technology designed for tracking the master marketing record and relentlessly tie all marketing efforts and technology to that record. Integration with a marketing automation tool or CRM back-end can further enhance the quality and breadth of data.
Contextual Content Marketing
We already know that simply more data about individuals isn’t the answer; brands also need to have something valuable to say. That requires a compelling, content-led marketing strategy. Marketers have understood that they need to publish more rich content and less marketing hype, but few have the people or budgets to set up in-house publishing teams. Many brands try to post a few interesting tidbits on social media and hope for a viral hit, but they need to be more than a one-hit viral wonder that fades away quickly.
Think about it: We all know those individuals we want to be around--the ones who are great conversationalists and seem to always have something interesting to say. We seek these individuals out, and their messages rise above the din of others. The expectations are no different for brand relationships. Take your newfound hypersegment of one and look for ways to provide a combination of external and in-house content delivered in the context of the individual’s interaction with you. Leveraging outside content eases the burden on in-house teams to produce content, while providing audiences with deeper, more meaningful, interactive content from a community of contributors.
Potential strategy: Leverage an audience management tool to identify fine-grained audience segments, and define internal and external sources for content and news relevant to each segment. Then leverage a content aggregation solution to feed the combined content set to multiple delivery vehicles.
A platform for a community of contributors creates a center of gravity to attract more people while retaining existing visitors–something often referred to as “stickiness.” View your online properties and social media outposts as more than product catalogs, transactions, and campaign outlets, and more as opportunities to create a destination for a community to interact and learn from each other. Done well, your newly created community will be able to cut through the noise to reach each individual with information that is both of value and supports your brand strategy. Give people a reason to keep coming back for more, and let them know it’s about them, not you.
Potential strategy: Design your Web properties as a destination with content that brings value to your customers; do not lead with product information. Give your audiences easy tools to engage in a common conversation through social sharing, aggregation, and community tools. Treat every campaign like a social campaign.
Finally, the conversation needs to adapt and stay fresh so people don’t lose interest in your brand. Near real-time agility to keep the conversation engaging, personal, and relevant is required. Brands need to be able to strategically map out, and systematically execute, a constant flow of engagement that matches the intersection of personal interest, community preference, and market trends relative to your brand. A lack of data or content sources to create such ongoing interaction has not been the problem. Rather, the ability to aggregate, target, and distribute at the right speed and at the right cost has been the key stumbling block to date.
Potential strategies: Implement content platforms that allow marketers to create and publish content quickly, without intermediaries. Change the culture and organization to promote content relevance above content perfection, and multisource aggregation over editorial-only writing.
In an era of big data and integrated tool sets that enable the management of constant and targeted conversations, marketers can better align their strategies beyond traditional campaigns and large blocks of customer segments–without breaking the bank. Those who shift to a conversation that supports continually fresh dialogue, community building, and hypersegmentation can reap the rewards of a growing base of brand loyalists who uplift your revenue and amplify your message.
And they’ll do so because you’ve created a basis of trust and are a source of valuable information–all while introducing them to a larger community they want to be a part of.