By Tony Tie
As a marketer, you’re likely tireless in your pursuit of perfection. You’ll do whatever it takes to put your brand on the map.
Unfortunately, working hard doesn’t always equate to working smart. And the energy you pour into your company could end up misspent on ill-formed strategies if you’re not careful.
Of course, there are always circumstances in which you don’t know what you don’t know, but this is especially treacherous territory in marketing.
Marketers’ Biggest Missteps
When campaigns target the wrong audiences or don’t emphasize customers’ needs enough, they waste time, money, and brainpower. You can write brilliant content, but it will not resonate if it doesn’t reach the right people.
A lack of personalization is particularly egregious in this era of hypercustomization. Consumers demand that brands speak directly to them, not just to their needs. Emails, SMS messages, and other materials must be addressed to individual audience members to establish a sense of intimacy and connection.
Most marketers know this, but their databases include incorrect name spellings, genders, and preferences. Misgendering people or calling them by the wrong name is worse than not personalizing at all.
Then, there are tech troubles. No brand can afford to ignore the explosion of smartphone usage, but many are behind on their mobile strategies. Others haven’t caught on to the importance of social media — or, at least, haven’t mastered it yet. Social Media Examiner reports that 85 percent of marketers don’t know which platforms best suit their brands.
Here’s another misstep: abandoning email for half-baked social strategies. If you’re investing in mobile and social (and doing it well), great. You’re on the right track. But pursuing new strategies doesn’t require you to abandon proven ones. Email is still the most effective method of acquisition and retention, and it’s the most promising channel for increasing ROI.
Owning the Marketing Future
Technology has changed the marketing world at a breakneck pace, and some brands struggle to keep up. Fortunately, there’s a fix for every problem marketers face. You can use the following strategies to leverage the full power of new technologies:
1. Measure the Right Metrics
Marketing is increasingly data-driven, but not every piece of information is relevant. Identify your core goals and KPIs, and focus on measuring those. You can add more as you expand your strategies, but do so selectively. Too much data can paralyze the decision-making process.
Analyze your competitors’ strategies as well. How well is their content performing? What’s working for them on social media? Are their website optimization strategies sharper than yours? Knowing what’s going on with your peers helps you set benchmarks for where your campaigns need to be.
2. Understand your Audience
Unless you understand who your customers are, your strategies will never reach their full potential. Build detailed buyer personas to dig into your audience’s psyche. If you’re targeting several segments, create profiles for each.
Once you’ve acquainted yourself with your audience members, develop road maps for their customer journeys. How will they find you? How many touchpoints will they reach? What information do they need before making a purchase?
If you’re unsure how to connect, reach out to influencers who are popular among your target customers. Consider partnering with them on product launches or educational campaigns. Not only do they have the scoop on how their followers think, but they can also persuade people to give your brand a try.
3. Stay ahead of tech trends.
When technology seems to change overnight, it’s difficult to keep pace, let alone stay ahead. But Foundation Capital predicts that marketing executives will increase their technology spend from $12 billion to $120 billion within the next 10 years. Your brand can’t compete if it's not investing in tech.
Tap your influencer partners to find out which apps and devices their followers are using. Their feedback may tip you off to the next big thing, so be willing to test out strategies on up-and-coming platforms. It’s always better to be a trendsetter than to be part of a ho-hum bandwagon.
4. Craft Engaging Social Campaigns
If your audience members are on social, you also need to be there — and not just once in a while. Your team should be active on social every day, showcasing your brand’s personality.
Social engagement is a give-and-take relationship. Don’t just link to your products and go silent when followers react. Respond to comments and complaints in thoughtful, non-defensive ways. Like people’s posts, and retweet fun, interesting content from other accounts. This is a great way to show customers that you’re paying attention to what they have to say and that you’re willing to amplify their voices, too.
Whatever you do, resist the temptation to buy social media followers. Consumers can tell when you’ve bought followers, and they’ll read it as desperation and insincerity.
5. Track and Broadcast your Successes
Ultimately, marketing teams must justify every budget item and spend to the C-suite. Tracking ROI on every channel and keeping detailed performance records will make those conversations a lot easier. Monitor each campaign on a daily basis so you can pivot as needed. If one isn’t yielding the results you expected, redirect those resources into a channel that is doing well.
Emphasize strategies that clearly affect the business’s bottom line, such as demand generation and customer retention. Then, share your wins with the powers that be. Letting them know how your department is supporting the company increases your chances of getting the funds you need to try out new initiatives in the future.
You're operating in exciting — if occasionally trying — times. But if you strategize effectively, you can avoid the mistakes that befall so many marketers and propel your brand into a dynamic and lucrative future.
Tony Tie is a numbers-obsessed marketer, life hacker, and public speaker who has helped various Fortune 500 companies grow their online presence. Located in Toronto, he is currently the senior search marketer at Expedia Canada, the leading travel booking platform for flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and local activities. Connect with Tony on Twitter @tonytie.