How to ensure your online campaign deals with people rather than markets

We all know that the digital revolution is changing the world. But just how far has it transformed the global marketplace?

It’s not all that long ago that, if you wanted to buy something, you needed to go to a store. Today you can shop anywhere in the world with the touch of a mobile phone, compare competitors’ prices while shopping in a retail store, and then share your views with hundreds, if not millions, of people through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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The majority of the world’s top marketing executives confirm that this new landscape has led to a critical and permanent shift in the way they engage with their customers — but only half feel they are fully equipped and prepared to respond to the deluge of change presented social business.

The resounding consensus is that people running campaigns around the world face four major challenges — dealing with the explosion of data, increased use of social media, proliferation of channels and devices, and shifting consumer demographics.

What’s really interesting though is that the most successful people out there address these four challenges quite differently from their peers. Previously there was a focus on “transactions” with customers. Now the focus has shifted to an ongoing “relationship” with people who may share their experiences with a product, service or company on a social networking site.

These outperforming individuals have adjusted their marketing strategies to connect with people in new ways. They use data much more extensively, and they are particularly good at stimulating awareness and desire, and building advocacy after a sale.

There is a very real sentiment that mass markets don’t exist anymore. And if there was a perfect solution to this it would be to serve everyone individually. But just how do you do that when there are hundreds, thousands, even billions of people out there?

There are three very definite steps you can take to improve your online campaigns:

Deliver value to empowered customers
The digital revolution has forever changed the balance of power between the individual and the institution. If you are to understand and provide value to customers, you will have to concentrate on getting to know individuals as well as markets. You will also have to invest in new technologies and advanced analytics to get a better grasp of how individual customers behave.

Foster lasting connections
To effectively cultivate meaningful relationships with people, you will have to connect with them in ways they perceive as valuable. This entails engaging with people throughout the entire customer lifecycle, and building online and offline communities of interest.

Quantify marketing results:
Return on investment (ROI) is becoming increasingly important. A number of executives reckon it’s how their performance will be measured by 2015. If ROI is going to be so important then you have to know how to use it properly.

It is imperative that you exploit the full power of the digital grapevine. You should be making use of customer analytics to analyse data, tracking blogs, third-party reviews, and consumer reviews.

These online sources disclose what customers want. They provide a rich source of information about customer sentiment that can help you more accurately predict demand patterns.

One key thing you need to take away is the notion that customers today are in control of the business relationship.

We’re used to the idea that they expect a valuable product and quality service. Now we need to come to terms with the idea that how a company treats its employees, retirees and the environment is as important as the products and services it sells. This critical and permanent shift means not only changing the way that we engage with customers but being clear on just what constitutes ROI for the business.

Image: Awemaker

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