As technology evolves and each generation improves over the last, so are there constantly new ways to engage with your customers – be it in the form of brand new platforms or using existing technology differently to engage customers in a fresh and dynamic way.

AUTHENTIC VIDEO

Have you noticed how movie producers over the last few years have moved away from over-stylized content or how brands in today’s hyper-connected world represent themselves with authenticity and transparency to build trust? I think this is partly the reason YouTube is so successful, as marketers have shifted to making their video content as authentic as possible to make genuine connections with their viewers. According to web analytics solution providers Kissmetrics, an audience is up to 85% more likely to buy from you after watching your product video and ThinkWithGoogle says 50% of people search for product or service video reviews before visiting bricks and mortar store! Consider then how these statistics can impact your product or service.

Video is a way to associate a real person to a brand and create a face-to-face engagement in an online environment. It gives customers the opportunity to get all the product or service information they want with the ability to skip over the bits they already know. As a marketer, I’m paying close attention to ephemeral content and live broadcasting. Instagram Stories and Snapchat paved the way for ephemeral content, which is video or images that are only accessible for a brief period, 24 hours. These Instagram Stories, which is a feature within the Instagram app where users can capture and post related images and videos in a slideshow format. Stories went large in 2017 and continued to grow in 2018 – as it’s one of the most used functions on Instagram because they stay at the top of followers’ news feed for 24 hours or until viewed.

Businesses with over 10,000 followers can add links to Instagram stories and my guess is we’ll see an increase in brands using Instagram Stories to drive traffic and even make sales. So Stories should be something to consider adding to your marketing mix, especially if you’d like to tap into the current reach of 9 million Australians (37% of the population) and 1 billion people worldwide.

LIVE BROADCASTING

Facebook Live is a feature that uses the camera on a computer or mobile device to broadcast real-time video to Facebook and draws 135% more organic views than images on the news feed. Facebook Live offers a raw, humanised, open and honest look at your brand and is a great way to increase authentic brand engagement. However, before you press record, it is important that you first think about your objective and what are the key message/s you are trying to convey, for example, are you wanting to educate your audience, drive engagement, generate leads or get them to click through to your website. Although Facebook Live is less polished it still represents your brand so think your story through and give it a strong beginning, middle and end. Followers automatically get notified when you go live, drawing interest to your feed and followers can ask questions and make comments in real-time creating genuine two-way communication and showing accountability. Live broadcasting is about conversation and engagement and less about making a sale. Authenticity is key.

CONVERSATIONAL MARKETING

Conversational marketing is focused on the customer experience and involves both listening and communicating and today’s customers are actively searching to engage with brands in a two-way conversation. Mass broadcast mediums such as television are struggling to create meaningful engagement with their audience. The power of word of mouth has been around since marketing started and customers have been using their social media to voice their opinion on all social channels including Twitter and Facebook. This means audiences also want to relate, engage and converse in conversation with you and your brand. If a potential customer can form a meaningful engagement with you, they are more likely to trust you and the brand you represent.

Artificial intelligence is creating chat-bots that can engage with customers in a one on one dialogue which encourages engagement and building trust. The chat-bot will likely be one of the most widely implemented forms of AI over the next year. Marketers are branding their chat-bots so that customer service is both memorable and useful.These bots are designed to offer personalised service and have humour or personality in their interactions with customers. Chat-bots can only help to some degree though and is not the solution with B2B customer engagement as they are specifically sensitive to mass marketing messages specifically via social media – one more branded white paper is just noise. The future belongs to salespeople that combine a content backbone that’s supplier agnostic – the content adds value in advance and independent from any product or service.

This way of thinking is challenging but enabling your sales team to post excerpts, data, and quotes that don’t link back to a landing page or a sale anything will allow them to build up their personal brands, with genuine interactions. As a business owner looks for a salesperson with a decent Twitter following or a large LinkedIn network as it will ensure your product or service is communicated to their followers. The same goes for your business, as it becomes more attractive to a potential employer if you have a large base of potential customers. Customers also benefit from this approach, as they know that if the salesperson is giving biased recommendations, they will lose their fan base, so a true win-win for all parties.

DATA GOVERNANCE

As digital marketers know, it is all about the data – the number of impressions, clicks, leads, sales, repeat purchases and purchase size associated with each customer. Understanding the demographics and geographics and also drawing insights into psycho-graphics. Big data is valuable. It helps customise your message to your community but there are regular data breaches. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union came into effect in May 2018 holding companies accountable for how they manage their customer information. Collecting and storing data, especially personal data, brings serious legal and regulatory obligations. Here are the questions you need to ask. · What sensitive data are we collecting?

· How is this data going to be used (if at all)?

· How is this data going to be stored and secured?

· Where are we vulnerable to a security breach?

As a marketing trend, data governance is about improving your customer relationships, by letting them know how you are keeping their data secure is aimed at protecting your brand reputation. It’s all about building trust. SINGLE

CUSTOMER MARKETING

With the increase of data, there is an increased emphasis on creating a single customer view. The prolific gathering of customer information at multiple touchpoints offers the opportunity to create single view customer messages, gathering all the data about your customers by overlaying website usage with app usage, in-store analytics, purchase behaviour, etc and consolidating it in one centralised location.

This allows you a powerful overview of every action performed by your customers and allows for differentiated customer engagement by sending them relevant messages – like Tom Cruise in Minority Report having his eyes are scanned in the department store. Think about the sleep pattern and activity level data you get from a wearable like Fitbit or Garmin, then overlaying that with data on what you eat and what activities you do from apps like MyFitnessPal, overlaying that with which products you view online and then overlaying heat maps of the stores generated using WiFi triangulation.

All this data gives a very unique understanding of the purchase behaviour through the various engagement mechanisms and touchpoints. More importantly, it helps understand the behaviour behind the buying decisions. Creating a single customer view allows you to offer recommendations and feedback on everything from products to tips on how to increase wellness and vitality. Consolidating the data from various touchpoints―whether in-store or e-commerce sales, mobile searches or app engagement―ensures that you have a true understanding of the customer journey. How they engage with your brand. How they find and buy products. What influences their buying decisions? This is what big data is all about.

MICRO-MOMENT MARKETING

Micro-Moment marketing is a term invented by Google to illustrate the idea that marketing is more than just getting your message in front of your target market―that the timing of the messaging, being present at just the right time with the right message, has an enormous impact on marketing effectiveness. Quality, timing, and relevance are essential in micro-moment marketing. These are moments when a person has a high intent to act.

A customer journey is broken down into a series of moments, where someone searches on a device for something to learn, do, discover, watch, find or buy. Location-based searches on Google maps help people find businesses located in close proximity. Mobile devices and subsequent searches bridge the online and offline world, allowing location-based searches to reveal micro-behaviors. It’s challenging to personalise those micro-moments as brand experiences, as there are limitations to how much information can be conveyed in a paid search ad, organic search listing or re-marketing ad.

Just showing up at the micro-moment, isn’t good enough, as people tend to click on the brands they’ve previously heard of or engaged with. If there aren’t any known brands you could get the sale however these will be influenced again by your number of reviews, so it is important that you do everything in your arsenal to engage on every possible level as everything is interconnected. Marketing through these micro-interactions needs to have high relevance.

The question you need to ask yourself is “How can I personalise and brand these micro experiences?”