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Facebook’s four step guide to joining the marketing renaissance

11th Jun 2014
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Not since the 1950s have marketers had such an opportunity to deliver a personalised service to their customers. That’s the opinion of Facebook’s vice president for EMEA, Nicola Mendelsohn, who believes marketing is entering a “renaissance period” as a result of the technology now available, and that the industry “needs to adapt its approach, processes and organisations to truly make marketing personal again”.”

So what are the fundamental rules Mendelsohn suggests marketers should stick to, in order to be a part of the renaissance? Here’s her four step guide, revealed at the recent Teradata Connect event in London, with some of her examples of businesses who are embracing the movement. 

1. Always go where consumers are

It seems obvious, but many organisations get this point wrong, for various reasons. Sometimes it’s pride, or an overinflated opinion of a product’s quality. Sometimes it’s a lack of insight, or a belligerent refusal to change a long-running business strategy.

Even Facebook admits that it got this particular point wrong two years ago, with Mendelsohn citing the social network’s slow shift to becoming ‘mobile-first’. Customers are moving much quicker than businesses, she argues, and it’s important to always keep this in mind and always “go where they are” when it comes to marketing and delivering your products:  

“The most important thing I’ve learnt at Facebook is to really focus on the consumer. Every single product we design and build is built for the consumer first with their experience at the forefront. That’s the same for all of our advertising products as well.

“We believe that by creating things that will benefit people who use our platform, that we’ll create things that benefit advertisers as well. We did get it wrong with mobile, because we thought about what was right for us as a company, and at that time, what was right for us was via desktop. That really shows that we weren’t thinking what the consumer wants.

“In a world where we have an overwhelming amount of information and content, and people can interact with us wherever they want, it is absolutely vital for us marketers to reach people in the manner that’s convenient to them.”

Mendelsohn cites Canadian sports apparel provider, Sport Chek, as an example of how a business can make a simple shift in policy in order to reconnect with its customers. The company recently switched from running paper flyer campaigns to a social media-based digital flying strategy, giving a far greater regional targeting ability, something that’s vital in a country as large as Canada where seasons change and clothing requirements can differ vastly from state to state:

2. Market for people, not at them

The good news is, in the age of the connected customer, people are interested in engaging with your brand via a number of channels. The bad news is, you have to up your game and change your approach in order to reach them. Part of this can be done by monitoring social media activity, and delivering content to consumers in a timely and relatable way:  

“All communication should be relevant, respectful and rewarding,” Mendelsohn advises. “What’s exciting is that technology has given us a new way of doing this, and a new way of doing this at scale. We constantly find that the most successful campaigns we see on our platform are those that offer the most value to the audience.”

Offering value, Mendelsohn adds, is often about understanding scenarios in which your customers may regularly feature, and showing you understand their needs and experiences within them. A great example she provides is from Crest, the toothpaste manufacturer, who recently ran a campaign based on an insight that brides-to-be were often making comments about their teeth and how white they were via social media, in the build-up to their weddings. They encouraged women to post photos of their big day while using #3DWhiteTBT on various social networks, in order to claim coupons for their 3D White product. The campaign has already amassed over 400,000 likes on Facebook alone.  

“This is modern advertising at its very best, because it’s creating value for both the advertiser and the consumer,” says Mendelsohn. “It’s about marketing for people and not at them. It’s just built on simple, achievable insights.”

3. Get to the insight first, and get there fast

The Crest campaign also provides an example of Mendelsohn’s third point – that marketing is about finding actionable insights, and being the company that uses them first:

“Compelling insights are the key to creating content that’s relevant, and relevance is really important for personalisation. We have the opportunity now to generate compelling insights about our audiences and their interests, because we have so much of this data at our fingertips, and it’s almost in real-time as well.

“Digital is making everything measurable, but because it’s also creating overwhelming amounts of data, we need to find a way of navigating through this in order to find these actionable insights.”

Toyota recently became the actionable insight kings in Norway, a country it was struggling to generate new sales for its Hybrid car in. It found, through social monitoring and a subsequent survey, that despite the low uptake of new buyers, current Toyota Hybrid owners “were the most satisfied car owners in Norway”. It decided to run a marketing campaign that encouraged owners to explain to friends and family what made their car so great, by encouraging them to let them test drive their cars:

“Who would have thought the way to sell new cars was to get people to drive other peoples’ existing cars?” Mendelsohn adds. “Maybe in the past it was impossible to find those people, but today it is. This is all about scale. The scale is really important, because it used to be that we made great creative and nobody would see it, but it doesn’t have to be that way now.”

The campaign proves that one simple insight online can potentially connect a business to an entire population.    

4. Don’t worry about having a device strategy, have a content strategy

There are now more people in the UK who own 3 devices than those who own just one. The complexity of how to market to different devices has been highlighted many times, yet Mandelsohn believes that brands developing strategies to combat multi-channel targeting are getting their priorities wrong:    

“I think that we should worry less about the device strategy, and think more about content that works across peoples’ devices seamlessly. Because people are logging in with Facebook, we know they’re the same person whatever they’re on, we can deliver content no matter where they are.  

“40% of consumers start an activity on one device and finish it on another. Mobile is usually where people start an activity – 62% of people, in fact. However, only 15% finish it on a mobile. This shows that you can no longer create different campaigns based on different devices. There’s no point in thinking that way. Marketers should spend their time creating engaging and relevant content for the people that matter rather than wasting time trying to work out which channel they should target. It’s about creating simplicity at scale, and with that comes focus.”   

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