By Daniel Newman, Forbes
Being technology driven – both as people and as marketers – we spend an inordinate amount of time focused on how to automate and scale our marketing efforts. Trust me when I say it is important, but as marketers we also need to realize that we are gradually moving away from “push”-based marketing, and gravitating towards communicating with customers on a more personalized and 1:1 basis, through multiple channels and the devices our customers use.
In fact, the next big evolution in marketing is going to feel like a move backwards, if I may say so, from tech-first to people-first. We may need to unlearn a few things that we were taught in school, and start learning about the basics of customer-centric marketing. But why? The answer lies in the fact that consumers have evolved from being “buyers” of products and services only to becoming brand advocates who are interacting with us and seeking active involvement with our brand. Personal connections and conversations with customers will lead to conversions and this is why marketers need to adopt customer-centric strategies today.
Our Customers have Changed, Why shouldn’t our Marketing?
According to a CEI survey, 86% of buyers don’t mind paying more for a better customer experience, while only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. That’s not good. But, where are we going wrong? As marketers, we need to realize that today’s consumers behave differently than they did even a few years ago. Technology has given them the power to make informed choices and voice their preferences. They are not just signalling that they want to interact with brands through social media or other channels, but they are also divulging their personal information with the hope of getting more personalized services.
A great example of this is the way that some progressive companies are using big data and omni-channel to create intimate customer experiences that transcend on and offline purchasing behaviors. Amazon does this extremely well. Even though they are a gigantic company with millions of customers, they still personalize their offerings. Just this week I received a tailored note from them to let me know that an Author whom I’d bought a previous book from had published a new book. They also offered me a promotional price if I bought the book immediately. This is a simple example of personalizing marketing and moving buyers between channels to make marketing feel more 1:1.
But the question remains. Are marketers listening? I’m sure smart marketers are. The breed of marketers who are listening to their customers, engaging them, and interacting with them are the ones who are thriving during this evolution. All the while, old-fashioned marketers are still wasting their time and money running campaigns and promos.
Marketers Should Focus on Driving More than just Visibility
From mass communication to Internet marketing, the long game has been about reach and visibility. But these metrics don’t necessarily help us make sales. Then what does? I’ve written a lot about data-driven marketing in the past and how it drives conversion. The real result lies in how we use the data we receive: how marketers handle data to track and measure the ROI in their marketing efforts. These are the metrics that reflect connections and customer satisfaction, while also leading to customer-creation.
Since customers are running the show today, businesses should put them at the center of all of their actions. Customer centricity gained force in 2014, and will be even more relevant this year. If we are not revamping our strategies and switching to a more customer-friendly marketing model, we are running the risk of losing opportunities and failing to connect. Technology should not be our focus, rather it should be treated as the penultimate tool to win at building deeper and more meaningful relationships with our customers. I give you the evolution of marketing, will you evolve, or become extinct?
Image: Creative Commons