As the marketing industry continues to evolve, so do the approaches marketers use to reach and engage with consumers. Although being a flexible, adaptable marketer is crucial, this mindset can lead you on a blind chase for shiny new marketing tools, regardless of whether it offers a better way to target consumers.
Take artificial intelligence, for example. It has become a major factor in automated marketing strategies. You’ll now find it building smarter banner ads; testing email subject lines; and researching, editing, and maintaining content marketing. One intriguing case is Google Duplex, an AI system for performing tasks over the phone, such as scheduling appointments or taking reservations. In fact, the system allows you to carry on a conversation — to a point, that is. But can new marketing tools like this actually help your business?
Despite the appeal of AI and other technology, as a smart marketer, you must know when to catch yourself before pouring all of your resources into the hype or promise of new marketing tools. After all, constantly upgrading from one tool to the next could actually trip you and your brand up in the ever-competitive market.
Limitations aside, many startups want to test out the growing selection of marketing technology tools, some of which will no doubt provide short-term wins. But instead of spending time and money searching for the next great thing, you should really be formulating repeatable, scalable marketing strategies and tactics. Remember, those tried-and-true techniques are staples for a reason: They continue to deliver long-term value for brands.
If you’re still not convinced, ask yourself the following: What sort of long-term value did Apple deliver to its brand with its 2014 “Songs of Innocence” campaign? With the launch of the iPhone 6, the company automatically downloaded the new album from U2 to everyone’s devices. Sure, 33 million people got to “experience” the album, but that’s just 6.7 percent of iTunes’ user base. Besides, the stunt went on to earn the moniker “Songs of Bitter Experience,” and the company had to create an entire website to help customers remove the songs from their devices.
In other words, it was a PR nightmare for both Apple and U2. Lesson learned: Just because the technology is available doesn’t mean it’ll provide any real value to your brand.
You must always start with what customers want, not with what you think they want. In fact, just 6 percent of marketers say they have a single customer view across all channels, which means their marketing isn’t as targeted as it could be. If you dig deep and uncover the problems customers face, that’s where you’ll find the source for your content. And this content should provide a solution — or, at the very least, position your products as a new way to solve customers’ problems. Then you can decide what new marketing tools — if any — to use.
Some things shouldn’t be taken for granted, especially tried-and-true marketing methods that are often forgotten for more exciting approaches. Before jumping on another “new marketing tools” bandwagon, consider how the following foundational approaches still keep you ahead of the competition:
Antonia Saint NY, a high-tech footwear manufacturer, hunkered down with the basic approach of messaging and successfully resonated with multiple subsets of consumers, ranging from professionals to partygoers. The messages made an impact thanks to the brand’s use of Facebook advertising data, allowing for it to customize its approach and to develop several dozen personas based on consumer pain points in relation to high-heeled shoes. With this information, Antonia Saint NY then launched a crowdfunding campaign that led to over $2.1 million in campaign funding — and became the first crowdfunding case study on Facebook.
The type of messaging will vary by brand, but a good place to start is with images and videos. Look at your message objectively: Does it answer all of consumers’ questions? What about the anticipated questions? Once all of consumers’ questions are resolved, provide clear next steps, whether that means reaching out to your customer service team for help or clicking a link to a specific webpage. Although this is a no-frills approach, messaging has a way of informing or confusing your audience, so take it seriously.
Another example of a company that used foundational marketing methods is Nectar Sunglasses. The lifestyle company launched a monthly Instagram contest in which people submitted photos for a chance to win a pair of sunglasses. The campaign not only increased the brand’s overall social media following by 21 percent, but it also improved engagement by over 318 percent — all through the tried-and-true technique of user-generated content. By getting the product out on Instagram, Nectar Sunglasses became a factor in consumer purchasing decisions, solidifying its place in the sunglasses market.
To better include user-generated content in your marketing strategy, ask your customers to share and tag pictures of them using your product. Take this a step further by hosting a contest that encourages user-generated content, such as Nectar Sunglasses’ Instagram campaign. In addition, make sure to tap into influencer marketing and consider how you could partner with popular social media accounts to create collaborative content that can be easily shared to both of your audiences.
Brondell, a healthy home brand specializing in items such as bidets and water filters, accomplished its goal of improving its online sales and presence by using the underutilized yet foundational tactic of email marketing. 53 percent of consumers receive way too many irrelevant emails, and only 9 percent of marketers feel like their emails are truly relevant to recipients. To avoid this conundrum, Brondell created email content that promoted strategic sales through valuable yet fun information. In tandem with other marketing efforts, the company saw an increase in revenue by nearly 50 percent compared to the same period the previous year.
You can follow Brondell’s lead by placing a pop-up message on your website to gather email addresses from site visitors. For example, consider offering a coupon code in exchange for an email address. In addition, set up a cart abandonment email marketing series to avoid missing out on valuable revenue. Or consider creating an “insider program” for visitors who offer their email address, and then send them exclusive offers and updates to keep them coming back.
If you’re struggling with digital marketing, don’t get caught up with the new marketing tools, instead turn to the tried-and-true techniques that have been working for years. These three strategies could be the boost your marketing needs to push you ahead of the competition.