Since the birth of the internet and social media, digital marketing has become one of the biggest focuses of the marketing industry. Where there were once milk carton ads and billboards attempting to reach as many people as possible, there are now teams of marketers analyzing endless data points across websites and social media platforms as they track the customer journey. These teams are creating new digital marketing strategies that revolve around the customer more than ever.
Digital marketing offers direct insight into the customer process. It allows marketers to conclude at what point they had the customer’s interest, as well as exactly which point the customer backed out of the sale. This has led to many eye-opening discoveries about the customer thought process and what it really takes to make a sale online. Let’s take a look at some digital marketing strategies that companies have successfully employed to shape the customer journey.
The Customer Journey
In the “Age of the Customer,” companies surround consumers from all angles, providing them with relatable media, competitive deals, a smooth purchasing experience, and excellent customer service. At the same time, customers are savvier than ever, seeking out competitors and researching reviews before finalizing their purchases. While there are many factors that play into getting a customer to cross all the bases through to a purchase, they all revolve around the conscious and subconscious journeys that a company provides for their customers.
Every step of the customer journey is methodically planned, from the creation of content to exactly which demographics see what content and everything in between. However, digital marketing strategies continue to advance each day, as more companies seek to invest in the newest technology to pursue an edge over their competition.
Therefore, while marketers seek to provide customers with an excellent shopping experience, they’re also seeking to create engaging content that will encourage customers to engage with them even if they’re not ready to make a purchase. This works hand-in-hand with creating a strong social media presence, as platforms with a lot of engagement promote an environment for conversation and often make themselves accessible for potential customers.
By creating content and starting conversations about topics that interest your target audience, you’re building community by fostering an environment where consumers feel encouraged to engage. Those who participate will recognize that any and all of these conversations revolve around your brand, which helps increase your awareness. That way, when they are ready to make purchases, your company will already be in their thoughts as a potential business option.
So how do you create this audience-engaging content that will take consumers on the perfect customer journey? Below are a few ways digital marketers are taking content creation and digital marketing to the next level.
Co-creation has a couple of different applications in the marketing world, one of which is a strategy for product creation, while the other involves working with other parties to create marketing content. In both, the company reaches out to the general public or specific members of the public to collaborate in an attempt to create products and marketing content that will engage and reach audiences far and wide.
Collaborating with consumers in creating products that are desirable to customers is referred to as product co-creation or co-design. One famous co-creation marketing plan that proved successful was Lego’s implementation of Lego Ideas, which provided customers with an avenue to create their own Lego playsets on their website. The creators are then responsible for promoting their idea, and the creation that receives the most supporters becomes an actual playset that is sold around the world, with a cut of the proceeds going to the idea originator.
Another way businesses work to reach their target audiences and truly integrate their products as naturally as possible into the customer journey, is through the use of co-creation to collaborate with influencers. Sometimes called content creators, these individuals can help promote their products. With social media being as popular a platform as it now is, many social media influencers have an organic reach to thousands, sometimes even millions of real users who regularly see their posts.
Customers often follow influencers on social media because they care about their lives, if not simply about the products and clothing they use, in an attempt to seek guidance about how to live a life similar to theirs. Social media users often seek out content creators to find connections to reliable brands that they trust, as they trust influencers as though they were friends — not unlike the influence celebrities have over large audiences.
Seeing the business potential in connecting social media content creators with brands seeking to promote branded content directly to their target audience, content creation company Social Native found a way to provide this service. Influencer promotion has resulted in successful marketing outreach for several companies.
New Platforms for Video Sharing
Another one of my favorite digital marketing strategies that can play a highly important role in the customer journey is the use of video content across all platforms. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and videos often contain dozens of pictures all in just a few moments. This helps to provide your target audience with tons of information in a short period of time with no cost to them.
With so many social media platforms revolving around the use of short videos; including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, video content is becoming more important. According to the 2018 State of Video Marketing report by Demand Metric, video content is the most important it has ever been. In just a few short moments, videos can help companies create compelling arguments to their target audience about why their product is meant for them, without requiring that they click a link for more information.
However, now that so many different social media platforms have adopted accessible video streaming into their apps, digital marketers need to ensure they’re following up with their company’s video strategies. This means not only having the video content, but streaming it through every single social media platform, and building your reach on these different sites at the same time.
Another technology that is beginning to break ground in digital marketing is augmented reality (AR). AR has been a growing technology for quite some time now, and is now finally being seen in social media — most commonly on Facebook via 360-degree views. This new technology provides users with an immersive experience, allowing them to explore all the angles of photos and videos through their device. Although AR remains one of the more advanced technologies without an accessibility breakthrough, it offers an exciting number of digital marketing potentials.
Currently, AR is being used across social media to display fun features on a person’s face as they use their camera, although many users don’t realize that these applications are integrating AR into their features. However, the more practical application that companies are still working to implement into their digital marketing is the use of AR in E-commerce to give customers a chance to see how they look sporting certain products.
AR can also be for marketing and advertising purposes on behalf of various companies. Snapchat was a huge innovator in using AR for marketing purposes. Although beginning with filters for entertainment purposes, this soon opened the door for companies to promote themselves through snap ads, sponsored geofilters, and sponsored lenses. Snap ads are short video advertisements that play between a user’s snaps, while geofilters and lenses can be purchased by a company to create specific interactive filters that represent their company.
The intention of this is to allow the customer to feel that they have the product in their hands, as customers become very attached to products after seeing themselves wearing the product. Providing this service in an app, or through their website can help be the convincing factor for potential customers who may simply be a little indecisive. This can also help provide an additional accommodation throughout the customer journey.
Diversified Customer Personas
A crucial part of the customer journey is the way that a company presents itself to the customer. Companies must adjust their marketing personas based on their target customer audience in order to appeal to a diverse range of audiences. This is one reason that having a diverse marketing team can be so valuable to the success of a company, as it can help add the authenticity needed to sell your marketing campaign.
Personalization is vital to digital marketing, as it helps companies be relatable to their customers. Without this important connection, customers are less likely to want to support your company or simply buy products that they don’t feel are intended to them. One way to avoid this can be to prioritize consent as part of your marketing strategy.
One way to ensure your business doesn’t come off as excessively pushy or annoying to any of its intended audiences throughout its marketing efforts is by using permission marketing. Permission marketing is when a company allows the consumer to enable the marketing they receive, such as email updates about sales, deals, and other offers that a customer may be interested in.
While email campaigns have long been considered a highly effective way of reaching a wide audience, permission marketing offers companies a chance to practice more sustainable digital marketing. This helps ensure that their email marketing is going out to customers who are actually interested in receiving notifications from the company, which can make for more effective email marketing. By respecting a person’s space, companies are more likely to remain in a better light and to potentially receive their business again in the future.
Throughout these many digital marketing strategies, the customer journey is being shaped by the feelings and decisions that contribute to their decisions to buy or not buy. There are many technologies that are still finding their place in digital marketing, but they are slowly and surely finding their best use in the marketing industry, as marketers seek to drive the customer journey in their direction.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.