Innovation; it can be a tricky thing to define – and even more so to know how to action. But innovation isn’t just about those new, cutting-edge ideas – but also about any new idea that can help you do things better; and that’s something all companies can utilize to their advantage.
The pressure to stay current in today’s constantly evolving consumer environment is ever-present. It’s no surprise that the nature of the way we consume is changing, and at a pace like we’ve never experienced before. Sounds a little daunting, right? It doesn’t have to be. In fact, we’re at a very exciting time in our current media landscape. Digital technologies are evolving into really engaging and innovative territories, and it’s providing marketers with a really exciting opportunity to find truly creative ways of reaching and connecting with their audience.
No matter what you do, however big or small, your mindset must be digital-first. We are actively living in a mobile-first world, with up to 70% of web traffic coming from mobile devices. It’s not to say other channels are not relevant, but your marketing content needs to provide a seamless and user-friendly experience on your most popular platforms. Find out which devices your audience are spending most of their time on, and tailor your content for those devices. With such a short window to capture and keep your audience’s attention, this strong level of user-experience is vital.
Think back to some of the biggest shifts in media communication over the past decades. We’ve gone from a radio-first world to a TV-first world, and now a mobile-first world. And it’s going to keep changing. It’s more important than ever to recognize these shifts to the way we communicate and keep up with the changes in society, or risk falling behind. We all know what happened to Blockbuster after they failed to adapt to the growing demand for online streaming services. Make sure that you lead your marketing initiatives with a proactive approach rather than reactive – staying ahead of marketing trends before the field becomes oversaturated will help you. For example, try using techniques such as Instagram TV or Facebook live to help attract your users before your competitors jump on board.
Aside from entertainment and email, the majority of activity spent on mobile devices is on social media. It’s vital for marketers to understand how to connect with their audiences on these platforms not just to build brand awareness, but also to maintain their relevance. There’s a common misconception to believe that our current digital trends (and social media, in particular), are a new development – and therefore, it’s okay for companies to still be ‘figuring it out’. However, when we look at how quickly internet technologies have advanced, it’s clear that social media has actually been around for a huge proportion of this – with some platforms having been around as long as 14 years.
One common trap companies fall into is creating social media profiles simply to show that they have them. If you’re on social media, you have to understand how to use it; and not just for the sake of it. Each platform has it’s own unique language and tone of voice – you’re more likely to use a formal, professional tone of voice on LinkedIn for example, rather than on Twitter or Instagram. Get to know these and adapt your messaging to suit each one. And whilst we’re talking about misconceptions, here’s one more: don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to be on every social media platform going. If your target audience isn’t there, then you’re wasting your time. Identify where your audience hangs out, and focus your efforts on those channels. It may take some trial and error, but identify the types of content that drive engagement for you, and this will have a positive impact on your relationship with your audience.
How many of you have a voice-activated device? You can probably guarantee your audience does, too. During an insightful keynote speech at the Financial Brand Forum, entrepreneur and marketing guru, Gary Vaynerchuk, discusses the importance of building your brand as the availability of voice-activated devices continue to grow.
The growth of voice-activated devices is going to increase because it’s faster – and people value speed and efficiency over anything else. With users leaving a webpage in just 10-20 seconds, being able to maintain a strong brand presence during this transition is what is going to help you stick in people’s memory, especially in our world of quick wins and fleeting moments.
“Building brand is going to be the difference between someone saying “Alexa, send me a case of beer” and “Alexa, send me Budweizer”.” — Gary Vaynerchuk, keynote speech at the Financial Brand Forum
Don’t be afraid to show your brand persona and unveil the humans behind your brand. If you let your audience get to know you, they’ll come to like you, then engage with and talk to you – and then trust you enough to buy from you. Building a relationship of trust with your users is vital, not just for driving sales, but also for customer retention – and it’s those satisfied customers who are then more likely to recommend you to others. Try showing behind the scenes shots of your team on your social media, or write some blog posts which share insights from your team members across different departments. This will help your audience put faces to your brand and feel like they’re truly engaging with real people, and not just your brand logo.
Ultimately, people want to connect with something – and this should be at the heart of your marketing efforts. Being able to tell a story and relate to your audience is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal. With so much competition and audiences being surrounded by media and advertising everywhere they walk, it’s no longer enough to just say your message and hope it resonates with people. You need to identify your niche markets and target them personally; make them feel like your message was written just for them and take your users on a journey to make them feel a part of your story.
This leads us nicely into personalisation. In today’s world, data and marketing go hand in hand. Whilst it may be difficult at first to marry the two together, data actually provides the perfect resource to make your marketing campaigns truly personalized. And you can have a lot of fun with it. Take Spotify for example – in 2018, they created their ‘2018 Goals’ campaign, where they utilized their data to create humorous and relatable billboard and poster advertising. The nature of storytelling hasn’t changed – but the platforms through which we tell them has. And they are continuing to do so. Being able to adapt the way you tell these stories to reach your target audience is what will tip the scale between you and your competitors.
We all know someone who does it. Those social media profiles which continually pump out sales pitches and call-to-actions in the hope that one day, their followers will suddenly decide ‘this is the tweet I’ve been waiting for’ to lead them to purchase. As marketers, you know a little better. When talking about social, that’s exactly what it is – social. Be sure not to use your marketing platforms solely as just another sales stream. It’s by providing your audience with engaging, entertaining or educational content that will keep them coming back to your brand – and that engagement is what leads to your sales. Of course, you need to mix in those all-important call-to-actions to your product and websites, but maintaining a balance in your content is essential.
So, what type of content drives engagement? There’s no one set answer for everyone – but the core of your content needs to address your readers’ pain points. People will only engage with you if you’re providing value to them. By positioning yourself as the solution to their pain points, your reader’s will be able to relate to your content, and therefore be more likely to convert into customers. Netflix’s social media strategy is a great example of a company who use humour and relevancy to promote their original movies; this allows them to engage and entertain their audience, without seeming like they’re engaging in a hard sell.
So, now you’ve got your fresh marketing strategy ready to go, be careful to not focus too much on what you’re competitors are doing. Whilst it’s useful to see what content appears to work for others, you’ll ultimately want to be standing apart from your competition – so you don’t fall into the easy trap of regurgitating the same content as them. This is a sure way to bore your audience and lump you in the same category as everyone else, rather than stand you apart.
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