Every marketer needs to deliver value to the bottom line and foster long-term customer loyalty; however, depending on the industry, the considerations and methods used to positively affect reach, engagement, and revenue vary widely. From retail and financial services to high tech and media/entertainment, marketers’ day-to-day strategic considerations and tactics cover a broad spectrum.
Despite the variations, this is certain: Today’s marketing landscape is characterized by change. New technologies enable customers to access information about your company’s products and services—and purchase them—anyway, anyhow, and anywhere they choose. Social media is altering the way companies drive new and repeat business. Mobile marketing and commerce are adding a powerful, new dimension. These forces make it a necessity to transform marketing from one-off campaigns to cross-channel, meaningful dialogues, and to keep a pulse on returns.
The following snapshots illustrate the challenges and opportunities marketers face in three key industries.
The Retail Landscape
From clothing to cars to toys and a wide array of other goods, the retail industry is vast, reaching consumers worldwide through traditional brick-and-mortar stores and virtually limitless online outlets. Today, nuances exist among pure-play retailers and multichannel marketers, and between “big box” retailers and specialty providers. All retailers are seeing sweeping changes in the marketing landscape due to social and mobile marketing, globalization of retail, and the advent of group-buying “flash-sale” sites such as Groupon.
These changes present a mixed bag for retailers. Facing global competition, retailers find it harder to have their brand messages and products stand out in crowded markets, where consumers tend to be less loyal and enjoy more purchasing options. At the same time, the increased competition puts even greater pressure on prices, impacting margins and forcing retailers to find ways to maximize their returns on every marketing dollar spent. Fortunately, by using the right mix of technology and program strategies, retailers can turn global challenges into untapped opportunities.
Retail marketing opportunities:
- Consider synergies among channels to enhance the customer experience. One major retailer began using wall-mounted kiosks that enabled customers to compare prices and products. Seeing the popularity of the kiosks, the company created a mobile app that enables comparison-shopping throughout the store on mobile devices.
- Stay nimble through marketing automation. The ability to optimize online content and pricing on-the-fly is especially vital for big-box retailers that have large inventories and must react quickly to compete with global competitors and flash-sale sites.
- Consider Web experience management (WEM) as a way to centrally manage integrated Web, mobile, and social media marketing to create and deliver experiences that captivate customers, increase conversion rates, and bring your brand to life.
- Capture specific customer details to create a superb experience. For instance, a specialty clothier might create a tablet application that lets a tailor have sleeve length, waist size, and collar preferences at hand whenever a high-end, repeat customer walks through the door.
High tech's higher engagement call.
A Look At High-Tech Marketing
Whether reaching hard-core techies with the latest and greatest digital devices, or capturing the attention of consumers who look at technology simply as a tool to connect with their friends or work smarter, high-tech marketers have to continually refine their products and messages to engage diverse audiences. In high tech, marketing can span anything from getting consumers everywhere excited about the latest mobile devices, games, or home electronics, to engaging niche audiences who have highly specialized interests in audio, video, and other technologies.
The good news for high-tech marketers is that their budgets are outpacing those of their non-high-tech peers, giving them more funds to develop and execute targeted campaigns. Also, because technology companies understand the correlation between technology and productivity, investment in marketing is a core part of their DNA.
This positive news is offset by the fact that high-tech consumers—even the most novice users of technology—tend to be better informed and more critical than other consumers, forcing high-tech marketers to provide richer information and experiences. Adding to the challenge, these marketers often find themselves in the position of having to constantly prove measured return on their efforts. Yet, by addressing the need for innovation and the need to measure and prove campaign returns, high-tech marketers are transforming opportunities for companies and consumers alike.
High-tech marketing opportunities:
- Understand and quantify contributions from marketing investments across channels. More than any other industry, high-tech companies demand quantifiable returns and meaningful data. The mantra for high-tech companies is measure, measure, measure. Data-driven insights are a necessity for garnering ongoing respect and funding.
- Develop social media and mobile strategies that set an innovative tone. High-tech companies revolve around thought leadership and rich customer experiences. They must offer not only stylish products, but also instill a spirit of thought leadership across digital channels.
- Strive to top the list in “experience-based differentiation.” Experience matters. Each year, Forrester polls thousands of consumers, asking them about their experiences with high-tech vendors, scoring in three areas: meets needs, easy to work with, and enjoyability.
- High-tech sites need all the bells and whistles, from pricing configurators and sales assistance tools to live support. Personalize the experience for each customer, and be sure that email and search campaigns dovetail with online content to drive high-value customers to your site and deliver leads to sales in a predictable way.
- Build an exceptional solution portfolio and measure returns across it. High-tech marketing, especially in a business-to-business setting, requires assembling hardware, software, and services into a cohesive solution. This can lead to a relatively complex maze of channels and partner relationships that requires additional cross-company coordination and measurement.
Banking on financial services.
The Ins And Outs Of Financial-Services Marketing
From banking and brokerage services to insurance, consumers have a variety of in-person and virtual options to choose from when selecting the services best-suited to their needs. In financial services, marketing efforts differ depending on the go-to-market strategy. Companies reliant on sales forces or intermediaries tend to focus more on awareness and branding to generate leads and referrals, while organizations that sell directly to customers typically apply a mix of branding and customer acquisition strategies—often integrating the latest digital advances to reach existing and potential customers across channels and devices.
Regardless of the products or services, all financial-services companies feel the pressure from more competition and customers with increasingly fleeting loyalty. Margins on financial products are on the decline, while customer expectations for quality and availability of services are on the rise. Balancing these competing pressures requires financial services marketers to adopt new technologies and strategies to provide customers with the experiences they expect as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Financial services marketing opportunities:
- Obtain an end-to-end view of each customer that accounts for online and offline interactions to determine long-term profitability. In financial services, a single conversion event—a loan application or credit-card sale—does not provide insights into the lifetime value of a customer. By tying online and offline events, marketers can determine specifics, such as why the customer applied for an account, what account balances they maintain over time, and so on. This integrated data can help inform and improve future marketing efforts.
- Be smart about identifying the highest quality customers and consider all of the costs involved. Does the conversion require a credit report? If so, tally this expense into the equation. Many financial institutions lose money on low-quality leads, so marketers need to make an effort to model and estimate customer profitability up-front, before engaging with a customer.
- Consider life-event-based marketing to create meaningful customer relationships. Whether a customer is sending kids to college or retiring, it is important to reach them with the right product at the right time.
- Engage customers with mobile—not just for transferring funds or providing services, but also for acquisition. Some financial institutions are enabling customers to deposit checks using mobile devices, a move that is cutting costs and increasing consumer convenience.
Marketers must become experts in their respective industries in order to succeed today, while also uncovering emerging opportunities for future business growth. In the new marketing world, a broader and more refined lens is required to enable the creation of transformative customer experiences across channels. Regardless of the industry, marketers have to become smarter and stay ever more in tune with what their customers want.