- From budget cuts to lay-offs, marketers are being pushed to take a long, hard look at their marketing stacks and increase performance. But, reassessing your stack’s value isn’t just about cost per lead, it’s about finding what solutions provide a stellar customer journey.
- Customer experience is still king, even though predicting customer behavior right now is hard. Marketing automation can take the guesswork out and help you make data-driven decisions amidst chaos.
- Digital transformation is a must. You need to meet your customers online and provide a consistent, omnichannel experience.
- Don’t be afraid to explore virtual channels and new strategies to reach your customers.
As a marketer, you know that when the going gets tough, marketing budgets are at risk of being cut. This pandemic has not only upended our personal lives, it has challenged the way we do business and changed the trajectory of the marketing industry for the foreseeable future.
This has forced us marketers to make swift, yet monumental decisions about how to effectively execute our jobs. The fact of the matter is, most of us will be expected to achieve impressive results with fewer resources well into 2021.
Due to lingering quarantine measures and social distancing, the majority of marketing work will have to be done online.
The good news? Most marketers are accustomed to handling online buyer behavior and marketing in the virtual realm. In fact, according to a 2019 report from Publicis Groupe, 87% of shoppers start their hunt for a product or service online.
In order to grow your business and make sure that your marketing stack is working overtime during a global crisis, you need to build it to let data drive your campaigns, execute on a consistent multichannel experience and smoothly adapt to change.
Wrangling buyer behavior with data
Buyer behavior during a crisis can be inconsistent and difficult to predict without the right tools. Therefore, it’s crucial that your marketing stack integrate some form of marketing automation that tracks engagement and customer patterns in real-time.
Why? Tracking buyer behavior will help you customize your customer and prospect journeys even as behavior changes.
In a time where consumers need to feel supported and recognized by brands they engage with, this is more important than ever. A strong marketing automation platform will allow you to build new, accurate buyer personas, segment your leads and personalize each and every customer experience.
Trying to do this manually is not only time-consuming and tedious, it’s nearly impossible when consumer behaviors are shifting quickly.
Consider the fact that most online buyers will never actually meet a salesperson face-to-face throughout their entire journey. Now more than ever, today’s consumer needs to feel in control and resents shady sales tactics or overly promotional offers.
According to a recent study by Forrester, “60% of B2B buyers prefer not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information.”
In short, this means buyers are confident they can find exactly what they are looking for and primarily need brands to make sure important content is easy to find. Therefore, marketers must prioritize making the buying experience as seamless, intuitive, relaxed and enjoyable as possible.
Tracking buyer behaviors and executing on data-driven decisions — such as sending appropriate email drip campaigns or triggered emails — is a surefire way to do so.
Taking a step back and making sure the right product or service gets put in front of the right buyer at the right time is easier said than done. When behavior is unpredictable, time-tested buyer patterns and trends fall short.
That makes your job as a marketer extremely difficult, but a well-oiled marketing stack can help you stay on top of it with automated tracking. You can’t grow your business based on guesswork, so make sure your marketing stack is tracking behaviors around-the-clock.
Turn your virtual “open” sign on by creating an multichannel brand experience
Let’s revisit the earlier statistic showing 87% of shoppers start the hunt for solutions online. Knowing that, it’s crucial that you are in the spots where they are looking and that your value is consistently demonstrated across all channels.
Why? According to another study released by Sprout Social, “when customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.”
As a customer, have you ever searched for a company on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and found that it doesn’t have a substantial following or any recent posts?
Immediately, your mind goes to the worst case scenario – you don’t want to give that company your business, because it doesn’t have enough of a presence to earn your confidence.
This feeling is the equivalent of walking into a brick-and-mortar establishment only to find the receptionist gone and the room empty.
Using a marketing tool that facilitates seamless cross-channel communications and content creation helps ensure your messaging is on point and consistent no matter where customers look.
Did your customer just purchase a software solution by clicking through a sponsored post on Twitter?
The suggestions you show this customer on your website and through email communications should take this expressed preference into account so the customer truly resonates with their next purchase.
Having rich, customer-appropriate content available in multiple places also gives customers numerous ways to engage with your company. Since your audience is online more than ever before, this content needs to be clear, searchable and up to date.
It just doesn’t cut it to operate with a marketing stack that operates in silos. Your platforms need to talk to each other to make sure customers are being engaged with relevant, interesting campaigns that reflect their behavior across channels.
Just think – Wouldn’t you find it frustrating if you were a longtime customer of a company, but you repeatedly received emails suggesting you had just learned about the brand? More likely than not, you’d feel unappreciated or confused.
Multichannel integration helps avoid this and maximize how helpful your company can be for customers over the course of your long-term journey together.
Your marketing stack can also help you pinpoint which offerings or messaging are resonating the most strongly, which in turn lets you identify what you might want to test or emphasize elsewhere.
Strong cross-channel integration here is key. Is your newest blog post performing exceptionally well?
Consider expanding this to become a series of blog posts to be shared on LinkedIn, turned into an eBook for digital ads or shared through a targeted email campaign, so audiences that might not go straight to your blog but follow you elsewhere can also see this content.
The more you track engagement across channels, the more focused and relevant your campaigns will become. If your G2 reviews consistently mention questions about the solutions you provide, consider hosting a webinar on your site to address those very questions (complete with email signups to further engage customers who want to know the answers).
The more visibility your marketing stack provides into customer behavior at touchpoints across channels, the better you can deliver more value.
Ensuring your marketing stack stays nimble
Customers are changing, and your marketing stacks need to be adaptable to keep pace. Platforms that help you optimize performance automatically are worth their weight in gold so you can adjust to customer behavior as rapidly as possible.
Staying nimble on timing is key here. Marketing automation platforms can work wonders for open rates and engagement by sending customers content at the specific times they are most likely to be receptive.
Since most folks are still working from home, the times that they shop, check their emails and do research are likely not the same as they were under normal circumstances.
Automation can ensure that all the time and effort you put into creating campaigns was not in vain by making sure your email drips, SMS text alerts, and social media posts are delivered at optimal times.
Meeting customers where they are is also essential. Sure, communications methods like email are tried-and-true ways to reach customers, but does your marketing stack allow you to text customers updates?
With customers shopping and working more and more on handheld devices, this added layer of responsiveness automatically woven into your campaigns can increase engagement.
The world is very different these days and it requires brands to establish themselves in new environments. Don’t be afraid to incorporate new touchpoints into your marketing strategies.
Virtual Q&As, AMAs and other events are increasing in popularity, and these are all ways to learn more and engage with customers.
As brands try to cut through the noise and compete in increasingly crowded digital markets, consumers are bound to grow fatigued of promotional emails, website browsing and chat bots. Identify creative, personal avenues to capture customer attention and it will go a long way.
Use your marketing stack to hyper-focus on results
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Your stack may have been working wonders for you before the pandemic swept through, but your marketing engine needs to adapt now to help you stay afloat and grow your businesses.
Make it a point to optimize your marketing stack so you can execute at a high level while operating on tighter resources. The more you hyper-focus on what drives results, the more likely you are to prove the value of your department and exit this pandemic better-positioned than you entered.
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