Old transaction-focused marketing used to shout at consumers and emphasized benefits. Today consumers don't exist anymore, having been replaced by Customers. Increased trust in peer-to-peer communication has vaporized the influence of traditional advertising. Digital marketing must consequently concentrate on customer engagement, the pivotal driver of a well shaped digital customer experience.
Everyone can produce and distribute content cheaply and easily. You can develop your own distribution network via social media, blogs and newsletters; on microblogging sites such as Twitter; or by smartphone and tablet apps. You can speak directly to customers, and they can give instant feedback in ways that were not possible before. Customers talk to each other in peer-to-peer conversations that bear weight and yield influence. Today, everyone is a marketer and the reality now is that more marketing messages are created, shared and listened to by the public than by marketing departments.
Customer-facing apps provide instant access to information and almost limitless choices, but to be relevant you must engage customers with appealing content that provides real value and treat them as empowered participants in dialogues about your product or service.
The value is no longer in the product or service that you deliver to your customers, but mainly in the experience that they receive when engaging with your business.
Gaining customers’ attention now is more important than conducting transactions. Your company’s goal is to draw potential customers and keep them engaged with a compelling storytelling, so when they decide to make a purchase, they come to you. The funnel has been flipped and transformed into a customer journey, and your goal is to make this journey memorable and unique.
This new “engagement” model replaces the “transaction” model. “Return on engagement” (ROE) has usurped “return on investment” (ROI) as the value driver.
Appealing content engages customers. If you are able to present relevant, interesting material through various channels that your clients find valuable, and you are able to maintain the momentum and keep on delivering value over a long period of time, it will not be clear where marketing stops and selling starts.
Such marketing positions your company as an expert and go-to source and reference in your field. For example, a sentiment analysis software provider’s web site and app might offer tips about how to monitor your reputation online. The company could produce a podcast or YouTube video on the same subject, and offer webinars. Such activities position you so that when people are ready to buy they will remember you as a helpful provider.
To create relevant content, understand that these influences are at work:
- The true challenges customers are facing.
- The behaviors customers exhibit – This includes demographic and lifestyle data, that you can collect from social behavior and use to your advantage thanks to right-time personalization.
- The context in which searches and purchases take place, identifying recurring patterns and trigger points that precede a purchase.
- The customer’s broad view of the buying cycle – Analyzing the customer journey and determining how often, when and why people purchase your product or service. More insights in our 7 Steps Digital Customer Experience Checklist.
Producing relevant content is just one step. Putting that content where people can find it within an omnichannel strategy, focused on customer-facing apps that comply with your brand essence, is the crucial next step that requires you to become a marketing superhero.
Develop a keyword and app naming strateg to ascertain which words people enter in search engines when they want to find out about your product or service. Seek long-tail keywords, three-word or longer phrases. Include these keywords in all your digital communication. Make sure your content and app is relevant and share-worthy and let your customers play with it.
It is no longer what you say about yourself that matters; it is what others say that really counts. When people share your content through your app on social networks, that’s far more effective than any other kind of marketing.