Businesses are competing in a war for attention. While this may cause some to flock to new technologies, these aren’t a magic wand. Using digital solutions without backing them up with the right data, strategy and strong content will not create better results.
What should marketers do to ensure their tech and digital capability are truly supporting them?
“Assume nobody cares”
This is key for developing a strong message in the first place. Marketers must ask themselves not “What is the message I wish to promote?”, nor “Who is my customer and what do they enjoy reading?”. Rather, “Why would anyone care?”
This eliminates ego from the picture. If the base assumption is that nobody cares, all efforts must be directed towards making the user care. Success is not assumed, it’s earned.
Assuming nobody cares is an opportunity. Being forced to stop, take a step back and rethink a marketing plan from the ground up enables organisations to take a new, customer-first approach: starting with the customer’s needs and backing up their strategies with quantifiable data on that audience.
Earn your success through testing and learning
First comes the customer. Then comes the production and testing. Finally, optimisation.
This is a circle of egoless improvement that puts the customer first, and uses data analysis to constantly iterate and improve. Marketers can’t always predict what message will precisely resonate with their customers, but they can make an educated guess, then use analytics to right the ship’s course.
- Start with the customer: Before doing anything else, businesses must sit down and establish who exactly they wish to target. They must learn as much as possible, using basic demographic information (age, location, job title) and audience data on their users’ personalities (likes/dislikes, pain points/challenges, goals, desires). Customer lifecycle maps, user personas and empathy maps are ideal for gathering and organising this information. These tools can be informed by a sales database, by talking to salespeople, distributing customer feedback surveys, and running workshops.
- Refine the journey map: A detailed, data-backed customer journey map will outline each user touch point from awareness to loyalty, and the challenges, pains and goals of each stage. It will form the bedrock of future campaigns, and so must be precise and quantifiable.
- Create high-quality, data-driven creative: All creative in a customer-first strategy should be backed by data to ensure it will yield results and drive engagement with the target audience. It must also be thumb-stopping. Format is key too: Content must be formatted for various placements, platforms and device types – for example vertical video for Instagram stories on mobile.
- Run A/B tests: Compare two variations of the same thing in order to see which performs best. There are many different variations to test against, such as target audience, creative or distribution method.
- Optimise: Combining the results of the A/B test with general campaign analytics, businesses can identify important trends. Why was one message more successful than another? What drove more or better results? What was more cost effective? One vital element here is that the data must be legible. This may sound simple, but good data hygiene requires good, regular maintenance. In order to glean success from an A/B test, a marketer must be able to dig into their analytics and track results, in real time, on custom dashboards that are quick to read and easy to export. This is more difficult with messy data.
- Iterate: Repeat. A good marketer takes what they have learned and uses it to improve the message. The winning results can then be tested against new variations to continue to identify which messages work best.
Importantly, success here is driven not by throwing money at expensive technology. Instead, it is driven simply by putting the customer first.