What’s the take-away idea? Humanise your customer. Look at your digital communications as a customer might. List 10 ways that customers may be ‘put off’. Are you emailing too much? Website cluttered? Messages lost? Calm it all down, and think ‘how can I talk to customers in a way that says – I get you, and I’m here to help you.
From fire-sales to customer melt-down
When businesses first started marketing online, there was a lot to learn and many mistakes were made. Many businesses succeeded and others floundered. Some businesses focused on making a ‘fast buck’, trying everything to attract traffic to their websites including: fire-sales, discounting, mass emails, voucher codes and automated reminder emails.
The customer registered many of these initiatives simply as ‘noise’. The game evolved as more and more businesses joined the field; the more businesses, the more noise; the more noise, the more customers became wary; the more customers became wary, the more businesses sought ways to make more noise and attract attention.
Customers were barraged with emails, hounded by loud advertising, plagued by cookies. Melt-down time – customers don’t want that much noise in their ‘in-box’.
From evolution to revolution
Today online users or digital consumers revolt against being treated as a part of the herd. Revolutions happen when people become dissatisfied with the status quo. People feel dehumanised, unappreciated and disenfranchised and that applies to their reaction to overly aggressive digital marketing.
As evidenced in huge ‘bounce rates’ from websites (the number of people who land on a site then who leave immediately without interacting), customer loyalty and repeat business is hampered by digital overkill: too many irrelevant emails or irritating advertisements.
And then came ad-blocking – consumers can now block online advertisements and The Wall Street Journal carried an article in 2016 stating that ad-blocking cost publishers $24bn in revenue globally in 2015, according to research by a London company – Ovum.
Customer switches off
In the online world, consumers are learning how to switch off and ad-blocking is just one way. Your customers can eliminate you from their digital world – they can control and zone-out unwanted information using filters, unsubscribe buttons, automatic deletes, spam filters, AdSense reporting, sometimes even by invoking data protection laws.
The new approach to digital marketing
The new wave in digital marketing is like a second revolution. The first revolution was the coming to power of digital marketing. The second is honing the art and science of digital marketing to be more personalised, customer-friendly and loyalty-building. Here are the principles of the New Digital Marketing Revolution.
Get deep insights into your customers. Gain in-depth understanding of your customers – their personas, their desires, their service requirements. Then and only then can you cultivate their loyalty. (Think like Apple.)
Humanise the customer. Your customer is a person – the challenge is to treat them as a human being. (Zappos Shoes – the world’s largest online shoe store – will look up a competitor’s website and find the shoes you want, if they don’t have them in stock.)
Focus more on inbound than outbound marketing. You don’t want your marketing to be an interruption in people’s lives; you want your content to be entirely relevant to them. So you provide helpful information, right where customers are, so that they go to you. That’s inbound marketing.
Address the customer in real-time. People want it now, real-time, wherever they are. (Think of HAILO mobile app which tells you if there is a taxi nearby now).
Boost your web content by ‘crowd sourcing’. Encourage people to contribute to your website, social media pages and forums; bring your content from static to stellar by crowd-sourcing. (Google is content for people, created by people. So is Twitter. )
Use smart and adaptive content tailored to the customer. Content tailored to the individual is the way forward. (Amazon can recommend books in the genre you prefer and tell you what you looked at and bought last time.) Watch the adaptive content trend evolve as its supporting technology emerges.
Get the Analytics. Analyse the information you have about your online customer; use that information to understand what works or doesn’t work for your customers. Google Analytics on your website is a great place to start – intuitive to use and invaluable.
The Second Digital Marketing Revolution is About Humanity
So, the short-lived era of mass-marketing digital canon-fire is over. The opportunity now is to get personal – to make the online experience for your customers a great one. The best online marketing companies – Amazon, Zappos, and Hailo – always keep the relationship personal and the service intimate. So before you engage in online ecommerce, work on your overall online approach to your customers and remember that they are human.