Now more than ever, marketers know more about you and are tailoring their messaging to you specifically, but ultimately you are driving the relationship.
As a marketer, I to try to stay ahead of the trends so that I can implement new strategies in a timely way. To do so, I voraciously devour white papers, enthusiastically participate in webinars, and go to conferences when I can. How we relate to each other today is dramatically different than how we did 10 years ago, the prominence of technology and richness of data, has given marketers more information about you than was ever before available and marketing is completely different today than it was three years ago. We used to cast a wide net and send out postcards and brochures, but now we focus on connecting with the right targeted informaton at the right time.
In any case, my efforts to get a jump on the industry have been concentrated in the last few months. This is the turn digital marketing has taken recently and what it means to you:
Email fatigue has tipped the scales in the consumers’ favor
I don’t know about you, but each day, I get more than 100 emails to my inbox – everyone wants me to buy something or add myself to their mailing list. Email fatigue is very real. Most people visit their inbox, and check the boxes based on sender and subject, then hit delete before they open anything. The spam button is the marketer’s worst nightmare. Some people use it instead of “unsubscribe” or “manage preferences” but if enough people hit that button, internet service providers mark the email as junk and won’t deliver it, even if the content is legitimate. Now more than ever, marketers have to compete for your attention with snappy, short subject lines and personalization, and make sure the content is real and relevant, useful and of value, but ultimately you decide what gets read.
To you, this means that increasingly marketing will be sincere, personalized, interesting, disruptive, and most importantly, authentic and light on the jargon – good marketing should provide a solution to your unique need without the BS.
Email is the new 1-on-1
Marketers want you to their company cares about you, [first name]. The basic sales schtick doesn’t work on you anymore so we have to be candid and authentic, and tell you how what we have will meet your very specific needs. Marketers are paying attention.
One of the coolest pieces of marketing I’ve received is the image at right. I participated in a webinar with Jay Baer, a brilliant, forward-thinking digital content leader and alumnus of my alma mater (Bear Down!), and about a week later, I got an email from the company that presented the webinar, Vidyard. The image at right was my email. When I clicked through to watch the video, it was an actual person talk to me, addressing me by name and talking about how Vidyard could help my company. She said that if I wanted to have a conversation, I could schedule at my convenience with the link below. The video was personal, relevant, and useful – she removed barriers and annoyance, and made the next step easy for me. I hope for and expect more of this in your interactions in the next five years.
You’re being followed
Along those lines, let’s say I have 20 thousand people on my corporate mailing list, 2 thousand of whom I’m trying to talk into a deeper business relationship. I have to deliver a highly customized experience, considering their business needs and how I fit them. How do I do that? I follow them.
There are a few ways to do that, most typically retargeting and automation. MGM Resorts International created with two experts in sports gambling talking about their technique. With cookies, MGM was able to track the people that watched the video and when March Madness approaches, MGM plans to deliver them ads about a Las Vegas experience that involves things that they’re interested in: sports and gambling. This is retargeting – things you look up on websites are following you around the internet, feeding you things you’re interested in (and obviously more likely to buy). It’s effective for marketers, and often convenient for you.
Automation is one of the most interesting marketing developments for the industry in the information age and will be imperative for marketers going forward. According to Mathew Sweezey, marketing evangelist, at Digital Summit Phoenix, “If you don’t have marketing automation in the future, you will not succeed.” Without it brands won’t be able to scale the level of personalization or be able to provide the context necessary to win in the free market.
It works like this: you visit a website of a company that has automation and they’re able to track your IP address, they’re able to see how many times your IP address visited and what you clicked on. Then they offer you a whitepaper, and get your email in exchange. Now they know who you are, how often you visit, and what you’re interested in. They score your interest, and as it grows, they’ll pass your info on to sales who will increase their efforts to persuade you. Automated markers follow hot leads and don’t bother bugging people who aren’t interested. The good news is that if you’re not interested, they’ll know – you’ll have a very short relationship. If you are interested, it is also good that they’ll take note and be helpful. The bad news: some sales efforts are persistent if you’re a “qualified lead,” but if you’re only interested in the content and not the contract, you may have to let the sales team down. Go easy on them, please.
Get a seamless experience on ALL your devices
Millenials with their short attention spans and skinny jeans, but also with their lack of limitations and digital savvy, are shaping the market. They’re digital natives with buying power, and there are 80 million of them in the US. On average, millennials use 2 devices regularly while Generation Z uses 5. Last year, Google did something historic and put mobile first. This means that all sites now have to be responsive (i.e. mobile friendly), and if they’re not Google, the most frequently-used search engine, will deprioritize them in search results. Responsive sites have a modular feel with a top menu, feature photo, and boxes of content underneath. The content stacks on different devices. Good brands now have to be mobile friendly, and the best brands are multi-channel, meaning you’ll have a good experience regardless of whether you’re on a phone, tablet, or computer (check out my Warby Parker experience for reference).
Get all the info in under two minutes
With shorter attention spans, brands now have to take consumers on micro-journeys. They will try to grab your attention and get you to deviate from what you were looking at. And all new content will be short-form. Do you miss Sesame Street? Get ready for the grown-up version, as brands will begin delivering your quick bursts of helpful information, most likely in video.
Many companies are turning to content marketing to establish themselves as leaders in the space, giving you value before you ask for it (or turn to the competition). Get great info for free through whitepapers, blog posts, infographics with hopes of an eventual upsale. That said, as a society we’ve almost stopped reading. When you want to retile your kitchen, do you read a book about it, or go to YouTube? My hope, personally, is that people will continue to read for fun, but expect to see a whole lot more non-fiction stuff in digital
I don’t think anyone should be afraid of what may or may not be tracked online – it’s done with the intention of providing you with the things you need, and you as a consumer have the power. It’s fair to demand good, relevant information, an effective online sales process, and helpful information before you make a big leap. This is where we’re at now. Cognition and artificial intelligence are being rapidly developed and adopted and the customer/brand interplay next year may be entirely different. Technology is keeping us on our toes but we all have the opportunity to shape how we buy and sell in the digital age.