More traffic. Better conversion. Higher ROI. Marketing sounds deceptively simple when you break it down into a handful of key goals and objectives.
Yet, in the real world, multichannel marketing is anything but simple. The dizzying array of technologies, channels, and digital-spend opportunities that marketers face today borders on the absurd. With dozens of tactics and strategies clamoring for the chief marketer’s attention, it’s easy to get lost in the process and, ultimately, fail at any efforts to deliver meaningful results for the brand.
More than ever before, clarity of purpose is the Holy Grail of marketing. But to achieve it, you’ll need to go back to the fundamentals and perhaps refocus your efforts on the first commandment of multichannel marketing: Know your customers—what they value, where they connect, and, most important, how they buy.
Understanding Customers And Prospects
From the outset, it’s important to understand that today’s B2B and B2C buyers are empowered players in the marketplace. They crave information—the currency of the digital space—and are willing to reward brands that make it easy for them to access information quickly and through their preferred connection channels.
On the B2B side, marketers need to clearly discern what users are looking to get out of the site visit. Statistically, nine out of 10 site visitors aren’t prepared to buy—yet. However, 70% of those visitors will buy from either you or a competitor in the future.
So when they visit your site, B2B prospects (regardless of where they are in the sales cycle) want to educate themselves in order to make better buying decisions, stay on top of industry trends, and appear informed when they interact with their superiors.
Even though some prospects might be a year or so away from an actual purchase, the educational value of the content on your site will play an important role in their decision-making process.
On the B2C side, consumers are looking for information about expanded buying opportunities rather than just the basic “what’s on sale” messaging that has traditionally dominated the retail space. For example, we’ve seen brick-and-mortar brand retailers increase basket size by 20% to 40% by making intelligent upsell recommendations to their customers. Even customers who don’t purchase upsell items report increased satisfaction levels from this approach because it relies on the personal touch from store associates.
So from an operational perspective, marketers need to arm the front line with the tools they need to sell. Why? Because the front line has the ability to achieve tangible outcomes after they have authentically connected with customers. In essence, operations can be outfitted with tools that enable them to perform marketing functions in a true one-to-one fashion.
Optimizing Customer Knowledge In Multichannel Marketing
There are many different ways leading marketers are using their knowledge about customers and prospects. Although the tactics and strategies you deploy need to be matched to specific brand objectives, here are a handful of ways that customer knowledge is making an impact in the marketplace.
1. Process Mapping: It can be extremely helpful for marketers to map the buying process as a way to align content with how customers buy, rather than relying on the brand’s typical sales process. To accomplish this, you will need to carefully consider the types of questions buyers are likely to have during each stage of the process: Why do I need this type of solution? What are the best practices for implementing the solution? Can the solution evolve? What are the key factors I need to consider when choosing a solution vendor?
By reshaping your content to address these (and other) questions, you create value for consumers as they do their research, thus increasing the likelihood of conversion.
2. Content Diversity: For a variety of reasons, many marketers seem to be stuck in a rut when it comes to the type of content they offer site visitors. Long-winded, text-based content is the norm—even though it completely disrespects the fact that different users and buyers employ entirely different learning styles.
To gain traction with buyers, it’s important to offer content in a variety of forms, i.e., telling your company story in both words and pictures. Video is, there, extremely important, since it is the second most powerful communication medium (after a face-to-face conversation). Consider shaking up your digital content by utilizing video content for key brand and product messaging.
3. Marketing Automation: Marketing automation tools can be valuable resources for collecting and implementing customer knowledge and actionable insights.
The current marketing-automation solutions have come a long way from the solutions that were available as recently as a few years ago, allowing marketers to track where the buyer is in the decision-making process by implicit characteristics (e.g., company type or job title) and explicit behaviors (e.g., downloaded a white paper or enrolled in a webinar).
The caveat with marketing automation is that marketers need to closely monitor the timing of actions rooted in automated insights. If you reach out to prospects too soon, then you can easily scare them away from the brand.
4. Brand Personalization: Most marketers are aware of the benefits of customer-based personalization. But, at the same time, the brand can also benefit from personalization initiatives—attempts to attach some humanity to the brand’s identity. As the world becomes increasingly digitized, buyers are expressing a growing need to do business with real people. In other words, they want to see the people behind the brand.
While individual pages for key personnel are a good start, you might also want to consider creating personal blogs, videos, and other content to “put a face on your brand” for buyers.
5. Online Presence: Finally, it’s important for multichannel marketers to remember that no single tactic is capable of delivering the full range of desired outcomes. A highly effective Web site is great, but the brand also needs a strong and well-rounded online presence.
Social media is a natural medium for expanding the brand’s online footprint and improving customer communication. For B2B marketers, a healthy presence on LinkedIn and other such sites is critical to the brand’s ability to capture and leverage knowledge about prospects and sales targets.
Ultimately, good marketing is a product of good information. Without insights about the things your customers value—for B2C customers, this could be daily deals, in-store sale notifications, or finding out about new product or service offers; for B2B customers, it could include learning about industry best practices or ways to evaluate vendors—it’s impossible to optimize spend and deliver maximum results for the brand.
However, it’s just as important to understand how your customers or prospects approach the buying process itself. By incorporating insights about your customers’ buying habits and decision-making processes across multiple channels, it becomes much easier to achieve clarity in your marketing efforts and accomplish targeted brand objectives.