As marketers we are constantly developing new tools and software to provide customers with personalized experiences. Digital marketing platforms allow us to use customer information to predict customer behavior and deliver the appropriate messaging. This personalization of messaging can help drive customers down the sales funnel and increase customer satisfaction.
Satisfying Customers’ Needs
Personalized messaging can create a sense of connection between consumers and brands. By using your customer’s declared data, brands can create customized messages for their different customer segments to better meet their needs. For example, when a customer visits your company’s webpage and places items in their cart but fails to complete the checkout process, your company can send that customer a personalized message that they have items left in their cart that have not been processed. This kind of customized support can help customers reach their own goals efficiently and effectively.
Personalized messaging can also help brands avoid further frustrating an already dissatisfied customer. For example, imagine a situation where a customer is already unhappy with the performance of their recent product purchase. Sending this customer offers for this product and associated accessories may worsen the situation. However, sending this customer a follow-up email asking for feedback regarding their customer service can create a dialogue to better understand their needs.
Utilizing personalized and responsive messaging helps marketers better meet the needs of their customers. The rise in digital marketing has led to an increase in customer information and opportunities for personalized messaging. With these tools, marketers can increase customer satisfaction and increase revenue.
As the marketing landscape changes it is important for marketers to grow and adapt accordingly. Digital marketing has expanded exponentially over the past few years, putting a greater emphasis on the digital environment. Understanding the different components of the digital environment will help marketers to effectively strategize and flourish.
The micro-environment contains the components that directly interact with your organization in the digital landscape. The micro-environment consists of suppliers, intermediaries such as search engines, competitors, and the customers. It is important to understand the wants and needs of every component to better position your organization for success. For example, understanding how to effectively cater to sites such as Google through search engine optimization (SEO) can help your organization position itself effectively in relation to its competitors.
The macro-environment are components that are completely outside of an organization’s control. The macro-environment consists of political climate, technological advances, social change, economic conditions, and policy change. Although these forces are outside of an organization’s control, they are important to monitor and adapt to. The ongoing covid-19 pandemic is an example of an external force that changed many organizations’ marketing strategies, both in terms of finding new ways to reach potential customers and also finding effective messages for those audiences.
Effective digital strategy relies on understanding both the macro and micro components of the digital landscape. The digital landscape is constantly growing and will soon make up the majority of the marketing sphere. Marketers must adapt their strategies accordingly to maintain relevance and achieve success.
Marketing is an ever changing and evolving discipline, but it also has a pretty long history. As marketers it is our job to keep up with these changes and integrate them into our systems. At the same time, we don’t want to entirely abandon older forms of marketing that can reach different kinds of audiences. Ultimately, organizations must find the balance of traditional and digital marketing strategies that will work best for them.
Digital media is the media that we encounter online via digital platforms. Digital marketing is therefore any marketing within these platforms. One of the advantages of digital marketing is the ability to directly communicate and engage with an audience. Digital platforms allow marketers to track a campaign’s progress in real time and adjust as necessary.
There are however some drawbacks to digital marketing. As consumers become more aware of their digital footprints, platforms have begun making it harder to track and target audiences. The digital landscape is also over-saturated with content, making it difficult for new organizations to make an impact.
Traditional media consists of the media channels that were used before the internet became widely available. While the use of traditional marketing strategies has decreased in recent years, it still has its purpose. Traditional media has a very broad audience, allowing brands to connect with entire regions using a single campaign, and it can reach audiences that are not very active in online platforms. Finally, there is also less competition given the capital needed to present on these platforms, which makes it easier for new organizations to become household names.
While traditional media channels provide a larger audience for marketers, it doesn’t allow marketers to track a campaign’s impact. A broader audience also means campaigns can become generic in an attempt to appeal to multiple demographics.
As marketing professionals, it is our job to evaluate the needs of our organizations and develop marketing strategies accordingly. A mixture of both traditional and digital strategies is often necessary for success. The media landscape is constantly changing and it is our job to keep up while also continuing to use traditional methods effectively.
Authentic engagement is an important but often overlooked aspect of digital marketing and communication. Consumers are ever aware of a brand’s reputation and are less likely to be swayed by empty gestures. As the digital landscape changes, authentic engagement with consumers is becoming more important than ever. I’ve spoken with five experts to get their opinions on authentic engagement in digital marketing and here is what they had to say:
Kimberly Taylor Ph.D., a professor at the FIU College of Business noted a shift in expectations that consumers place on brands and how they engage with the public. “Consumers often expect brands to engage authentically with an issue or with a consumer group, and not just post on social media during a particular month (such as for Black History or Breast Cancer Awareness.) For example, in our study of breast cancer survivors, they said ‘I’m a cancer survivor all year!’ (not just in October), and they wanted to know what exactly a company was doing to help the cause beyond simply slapping a pink ribbon on a package.) Moreover, a younger generation of consumers is not only accepting of brands actively engaging with social causes they support, but they have come to expect it, viewing a company’s silence as some level of complicity or disagreement.” These new customer expectations are part of the shifting landscape of digital marketing. As companies engage further on social media, and as those same platforms have waves of social and political engagement, the companies are also held to a different standard. The standard neutral stance of past operations has become much more obvious in the current environment.
This changing landscape has also opened opportunities for brand growth and engagement, a sentiment shared with Marketing Manager Samantha Blanken. “This past year has opened the door for us to share more of who we are as individuals. For authentic marketing engagement, we must remember that we’re speaking to a human being, not a job title at a target company. Authenticity invites stronger connection and more meaningful engagement.” So even while expectations for organizations have risen, to have opportunities to connect with small groups of customers on a human level in a way that creates lasting relationships.
A Friendly Face
These kinds of relationships are built on a clear knowledge of your brand’s values and goals. As noted by Catherine Whitlock, Associate Vice President of Online Communications at Parkinson’s Foundation, organizations can build trust by intentionally shaping their messaging through their goals. “When you’re communicating something about a serious and frightening lifelong disease like Parkinson’s, knowing that there is someone or some entity like the Parkinson’s Foundation who’s friendly and in your corner can make a huge difference. We actually define what we mean by friendly. We mean we’re approachable, but we’re not unprofessional. As an authority in helping someone live well with Parkinson’s, we can’t be all emojis and slang, but we can have just enough of it so people realize there is a human on the other side of the screen and that human is rooting for you.” This kind of messaging creates consistency in the minds of customers and clients so the organization can seem more relatable and reliable.
There is also a need for brands to implement more authentic and culturally competent marketing strategies, as pointed out by Marketing Executive John Rodriguez. “There is a lack of authentic digital marketing (and overall marketing in general) to Hispanic Audiences. Many clients choose to tackle talking to Hispanic Audiences by casting multiracially and simply translating the work done for General Market. If clients want to truly engage with Hispanic Audiences, they need to push for more bespoke work that will actually be relevant to said audiences. It isn’t enough to cast and old Hispanic woman and push the ‘Abuelita’ trope, they must listen to the needs to Hispanic Audiences and tailor messaging properly.” Authentic messaging relies on a careful knowledge of customers’ home cultures. Clichés and generalizations from outside perspectives are not enough to show a real care for and value of diverse audiences.
Metrics of Success
Despite all this work, authentic engagement is not the only thing an organization uses to determine the success of a campaign, as pointed out by Marketing Coordinator Kaycee Conlee. “Authentic engagement in digital marketing is certainly valuable and important but with many platform’s emphasis on algorithms, it’s not always the goal for companies. Since any engagement, genuine or not, can boost your message on most platforms, a lot of marketers aim to trigger engagement with questions or polls, and authenticity is irrelevant.” While authentic engagement should remain a core value for organizations seeking to establish lasting relationships and value, technological constraints also impact the success of marketing campaigns. Often, marketers must achieve a careful balance between going viral and staying human.
Opportunities for Growth in Digital Marketing
Ultimately, authentic engagement on digital platforms presents a unique challenge and opportunity for digital marketers. The rise in social media marketing has organizations in constant contact with their customers. The largest reach can occur through having marketing campaigns go viral to reach as many people as possible. While this strategy may work in the short term, the success of an individual campaign may hurt the brand’s overall credibility. Keeping brand image, values, and reputation in mind will help in creating more authentic content that will connect with consumers and turn them into loyal brand ambassadors.
Human-centered communication is key for a brand to effectively create authentic content. Consumers don’t want to be viewed as a commodity for brands to acquire. Instead, the modern consumer is looking to form a meaningful relationship with a brand. This relationship has to be built on a human element that connects to the customer’s larger worldviews.
There is pressure on brands today to support causes that connect with their audiences and values. Consumers notice and hold brands accountable if a brand is only supportive of a cause when it is convenient, using terms such as rainbow washing to refer to the performative allyship towards the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month (June). There is now an expectation for brands to authentically engage with causes year-round, as opposed to promoting their support when trending.
As the digital landscape changes, authentic engagement with consumers is becoming more relevant than ever. The modern consumer is more informed of a brand’s reputation and is more likely to act on their perceptions of it. Authentic engagement can no longer be overlooked and is now a cornerstone of digital marketing.
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