Are You Getting Through to your Audience?
Due to advances in technology and changes in how people use it, marketing has become increasingly more difficult. Perhaps the biggest reason is that people are more distracted than ever. Better technology = more opportunity to communicate = desire to communicate more = exponential increase in distractions. The magnitude of online interactions is truly staggering. Consider these stats from Pingdom research for 2012. The daily averages were:
- 144 billion emails
- 2.7 billion likes on Facebook
- 175 million tweets sent
- 5 billion Google +1 button clicks
- 3.2 billion searches on Google
- 3.5 billion gigabytes of mobile data traffic
- 11 million hours of video watched on YouTube
- 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook
Chances are you’re on Facebook to a greater or lesser degree. Many people spend a lot of time there. Businesses spend time on Facebook, too, such that there are paid full-time jobs in social media marketing. Your current and potential customers use the Internet in a variety of ways, whether to keep up with friends, Google the latest question on their mind, research products and of course, to buy stuff, too. Lots of businesses and organizations are on the Internet using a variety of mediums: LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, news sites, review sites, and so on. Internet-enabled technologies, like smartphones and tablets, consume more and more of people’s time. Amidst this continuous demand for everyone’s attention, are you getting through to your audience? To potential customers? To current customers?
New thinking is emerging as to how to deal with this more effectively. One school of thought is encompassed by the term interactive marketing. Interactive marketing recognizes that modern communication is both outbound to the customer and inbound from the customer, and that we cannot control the entire process. We can, however, influence the process, listen to what customers are saying, and participate in the conversation. Consider your website as an area where you ultimately have full control over the design, content and messaging. Then, consider all the other places where your business is mentioned and people are talking about you, such as news sites, blogs, social media and review sites.
Figure 1. Website as the hub in an interactive marketing scenario.
Marketing as a one-way broadcast is not enough anymore. With social media and other digital channels, people can provide feedback directly and indirectly about your products and services; a lot of this is now outside of your direct control. An interactive marketing environment comprises many interactions, all of which affect perceptions of your business. Effective communication requires understanding where your audience is, and delivering your message appropriately. And your message is more than mere words, it is everything you do, and how you say it.
To get your message through, you must have a specific idea who you are trying to reach, as that will impact how you communicate with your audience. While you may know what value you offer in your product or service, reaching different audiences may require different strategic approaches.
The future of marketing focuses on inbound communication, drawing people in via search engines, external links, referrals and social media. It is more difficult to successfully implement, but more long-lasting. The term “selective consumption” is most appropriate here to describe how people are spending their time. You want people to choose you over one of your competitors. Websites often serve as the primary hub of marketing strategy; proper site optimization and publishing unique, quality content is how you get people to notice you, pay attention to you, and buy from you.
Sending a message out to customers still has an important place in marketing. You need to go where people are and communicate, whether a passive advertisement on a billboard or a ‘direct mail’ letter in someone’s mailbox. Outbound often goes to a mass audience segment, but it is now easier to broadcast on a more individual level. Due to modern marketing’s interactive nature, outbound and inbound are best when tightly integrated, so they play off each other. Rather than having singular marketing channels, it is best thought of as a marketing process.
Monitoring, Data, Analysis
No “perfect formula” for marketing exists at the outset. What does exist is a collection of marketing-related elements that are very likely to work if combined properly. Your task is to find the right mixture that your current and prospective customers will respond to. This requires experimentation until the perfect formula for your business is discovered, modifying your approach over time to improve the results. What we’ve seen missing in many companies’ marketing efforts is the use of a systematic way to measure the success of their campaigns. You need to start by establishing baseline metrics, and then test your activities against that baseline to see how effective they are. If something works, do it again. If something doesn’t work, then you need to figure out why and make the necessary adjustments.
That’s a basic overview of interactive marketing. With all the potential ways to interact with current and future customers, focus is key. Staying on track with implementation of your marketing strategy is always a challenge, but is aided by having clear goals, awareness of the bigger picture and ongoing project management. To really know whether you are reaching your audience though, you have to know how you are going to measure that. Are you getting through? Let us know if you’d like help answering that question.
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