Richard Evans shares advice on how to use a combination of mobile, social and email for personalised messages that won't turn the customer off.
The world has gone 'Mocial'. Consumers now interact with brands through multiple channels, multiple times per day. This pervasive, combined use of mobile, social and email offers increased opportunities for companies to engage with their customers. However, the challenge of engaging through all of these myriad channels can also appear daunting to marketers. Campaigns must effectively bridge the gap and link all of these channels to create a fully integrated marketing strategy.
For example, targeted and timely email can be used to boost sales with an established customer base, driving loyalty. Social networks can encourage these customers to spread the message to a huge database of friends and family. And mobile allows these users to do all of this on the move, in a more personal space, on their own terms. This access to a user’s personal network and lifestyle requires a change in tactics by marketers. Content can no longer be created and packaged for the mass market, full of sales and marketing jargon – it must be personalised and tailored for each individual recipient. If not, customers will disengage with the brand, potentially for good. Because of this, marketers need to turn their attention to their ‘style’ and ‘voice’.
So how should marketers avoid turning their customers off?
For marketers wanting to add a human touch to their communications, something as obvious as making email copy more conversational and friendly is a great place to start. Consumers don’t want to be talked down to or advertised at. Within social media channels especially, it is expected that business communications be transparent and friendly. If not, it is all too easy for unhappy customers to vent their anger and disappointment on social networks and blogs, creating a backlash against a brand. In emails, don’t constantly sell. Instead, send ones that are designed to entertain and inform, or with targeted offers they will want to receive. Decisions on purchases are often based on the relationship with the brand as much as the price or offer involved, and personalising helpful information can edge you in front of the competition.
Another method for humanising marketing materials is to give your business a human face. Customers will warm to a company if they feel they are talking to a real person, so including a member of the sales or customer service team – whether by image or just by name – can greatly improve a customer’s feeling towards your messages. Not surprisingly, many people are tiring of the use of automated messages, and appreciate having someone else at the other end of the line to talk to.
In an extension of this, using customer reviews also provides an added human touch. Knowing that other people have had success with your brand can be the final assurance customers need before purchasing, so testimonials can be instrumental in bringing in sales.
Encouraging social sharing of your emails has the same effect. You’ll know your business is on the right track when customers and recipients of your messages begin sharing the content. Having a friend recommend a service or product is one of the best ways to secure new customers, as it has come from a truly trusted source. By humanising your content, you greatly increase the chances of your emails and messages being shared, and therefore increasing your potential customer base. With technology creating new communication channels all the time, the opportunity to reach a wider, more diverse audience is huge – and the privilege should not be taken lightly.
Creating a personality and core values for your business is also a logical step and can be translated into your marketing communications. For example, what would your brand’s favourite film, band or pastime be? Answering these questions allows you to gauge your business’ personality, which should then be incorporated into your messaging. Taking the time to analyse what you want your brand to stand for and injecting this personality into messages greatly increases the customer’s desire to listen. Personality not only makes a brand memorable and provides stability in a crowded marketplace, but also creates an affinity with those that you are trying to engage with.
The benefits of such humanisation cannot be underestimated. Marketing activities are reaching further into individual’s lives than ever before through advances in technology. This has created new and exciting marketing channels to exploit, but this must be done with care and attention. To effectively engage with customers, a business needs to understand them. How do they like to be contacted? When? And by what means? These are all questions that must be explored before marketers can even think of engagement. But the benefits – increased sales, engagement, brand awareness – are well worth the effort that is put in.
Richard Evans is director of marketing – EMEA, Silverpop.