The Psychic Power of Automated Marketing

Imagine—if only for a few glorious moments—that you’ve just booked a Disney cruise vacation to the Bahamas.  You celebrate for thirty seconds, and then you keep going about your daily life.  In the weeks approaching the vacation, you’ve been so busy with work that you’ve nearly forgotten that your boarding date is approaching.  Then, out of nowhere, you get a personalized email from Disney Cruise Line two days before your departure date.   Not only does it get you excited for your trip, but it even gives you a helpful packing list so that you have everything you need to enjoy the Bahamas to the fullest.

Are Disney’s psychic powers at work here? Yes – in the form of marketing automation.

Here is a great Forbes article that discusses the benefits of automated marketing.  I’ll focus on my favorite benefit: It helps build customer relationships.  By sending the right marketing touchpoint at exactly the right time, companies convey that their consumers are highly valued and worth every penny.  Let’s go back to the example of your Disney cruise vacation.  You were too busy to even think about packing for your vacation.  But at a moment that you couldn’t have planned any better, Disney Cruise Line swoops down like Batman to save your life.  That’s the goal of marketing automation.  When the right person gets the right message at the right time, the message becomes more personal.  It is this relevance that is a strong contributor to the strength of marketer-consumer relationships.

So the next time you get that “Happy Birthday!” postcard from your favorite retailer, don’t think of it as simply another way to get your money. Instead, think of it as the company honoring your value to its business. Isn’t that what marketing is all about?

Content Marketing: Selling without Selling

Let’s face it: Consumers know when marketers are trying to sell them something.  If the selling tactics are too obvious, consumers will reject the message.  This rejection becomes even more likely when the messages have no relevance to the listeners.  Who wants marketers to talk at them about irrelevant topics? No one.  We all want them to talk to us about things that matter to us.  So is this possible? Is there really a way for marketers to give us information that might have a place in our lives?

Yes. Yes, there is. It’s called content marketing.

“Okay, so ‘content marketing’ sounds obvious,” you say.  “But what qualifies as ‘content’?” I’m glad you asked.

The content can be a number of things: articles, white papers, webinars, case studies, blogs – the list is endless.  But what makes these content marketing tactics (as opposed to waiting room reading material) is that they present valuable information to consumers with the intent on changing their behavior.  The content also allows marketers to establish their expertise and credibility with consumers.  It is imperative, then, that marketers choose their content wisely.  Would a white paper on nutritional information written by Dunkin’ Donuts make sense? Definitely not.  In fact, I will admit that was an extreme example.  But the point is that marketers not only need to know their own strengths, but also what their audience wants to hear.

The statistics in this article illustrate that content marketing will be a force to be reckoned with in 2014.  The video below does a great job in explaining the proper way to develop a content marketing strategy that will captivate consumers and, ultimately, transform business.

Social Media Trends for 2014

As we rapidly approach the end of 2013, it’s time to predict what will emerge for different media tactics in the coming year.  Ad Age – among many publications – just released its guide to social media strategy for 2014.  Here are the best practices outlined in the guide – and my commentary on each:

1)  Have the internal digital marketing and brand marketing teams collaborate on social media.

The point of this best practice is to foster collaboration between two teams that are critical for social media success.  The digital marketing team knows exactly how to navigate the social sphere and the best tactics for doing so.  While the brand marketing team may not have that expertise, it will certainly know how to weave the brand story into social media.  When these two teams collaborate, the result will be the very definition of integrated marketing communication: telling a consistent brand story across multiple platforms.

2) Consider hiring outside help to support the internal social media team.

There is definitely merit to this best practice.  Just because a company is active (or desires to be active) on social media does not mean it has the resources to do so.  Training internal team members on managing social media can cost more time and money than an organization is prepared to spend.  However, social media is an incredible opportunity for companies to be transparent, and this transparency is best handled by employees who know the company the best.  Thus, external support should be used, but only for supplementary purposes.

3) Create brand-specific social media strategies.

The idea behind this is that consumers often interact more with some of a company’s products than they do with the company itself, so brand-specific strategies will honor that interaction.  As a marketer, I would like to think this is a given.  Consumers probably don’t connect with Procter & Gamble very much, but there is no question that P&G brands like Tide, Crest, and Olay garner far more engagement.  So what would a P&G social media strategy accomplish? Not much.

4) Use a social media management system (SMMS) to keep track of metrics and progress.

Social media management systems (SMMS) are a great way to centralize all of a company’s social media activity.  Having all of this information in one centralized hub makes monitoring and analysis much easier.  Here is an article that gives a great overview and list of SMMS.

5) Send messages across multiple networks to take advantage of each network’s unique properties and consumer behavior.

This is also a given for those who are mildly versed in social media.  Although it may be easier to post the same content to Facebook and Twitter, marketers have to know that, for example, a 140-character limit on Twitter requires different content.  Furthermore, if there are consumers following one brand across multiple networks, they would certainly get bored if they were to see the same thing more than once.

6) Develop a measurement-specific strategy with clear brand benefits.

The guide advises that marketers move past simply measuring engagement and focusing on how social media impacts the bottom line.  And why shouldn’t they? Every marketing investment must deliver a return, and this return might be beyond how engaged people are with the brand.  This is not to say that engagement is not important.  However, 2014 might be the year in which marketers scrutinize how engagement affects sales.

Here is a more tactic-centered list of 2014 social media predictions. 

What are yours?  

Is emerging media really emerging?

One might consider the title of this week’s post to be an obvious – even rhetorical – question.  But it isn’t.  In fact, it’s one that should rightfully be considered.  In a time when there are new media developments nearly every day, what is emerging one day might be old news the next.

But how do we even know what emerging media are? Let’s start with what they aren’t.  They aren’t media in the traditional sense.  By “traditional,” I mean media that are designed for one-way communication. While marketers send hundreds of messages through TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines, there is no opportunity for the consumer to provide immediate feedback.  This is where emerging media come in.  Emerging media – blogs, advergaming, social media, multimedia channels, etc. – allow for interaction and communication between many people at once.  They are emerging because they are up-and-coming and revolutionizing the way marketers and consumers communicate with one another.

The emerging media landscape is truly astounding. The infographic below illustrates the vast world of emerging media platforms.

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“But wait,” you think to yourself. “Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube aren’t new anymore. They can’t be called ‘emerging media.’”

You know something? You might be right.

So here we are at the question posed in this post’s title: “Is emerging media really emerging?” Well, that could depend on a number of variables.  However, one thing is true: Something that is new now won’t be new forever.  So if the word “emerging” implies that something is new, but channels like social media are losing their novelty, is there a better name for these media? Perhaps there is.

A better term for these media might be “dialogue media.”  Why? By definition, a “dialogue” is a conversation between two or more people, and that is exactly what these media are designed to foster. When people comment on social content, it is not simply to see if the keyboard works.  Rather, it is to voice an opinion that could forever change how marketers interact with their consumers.  As people get into discussions, they toss around ideas.  These ideas can make or break a brand, which makes online conversation so incredibly important.

So what will this blog cover? This blog will explore not only media that truly are new, but also the emerging trends among not-so-new media.  The purpose is to understand where marketing is now and where it will go.  Ultimately, this is defined by consumers.  They set the trends, and marketers follow in an effort to reach more people and form the strong bonds that lead to marketing success.