With Brexit and the uncertainty of our future dominating our every newsfeed, it is not surprising that my social media feed is peppered with friends and contacts seeking comfort by looking back at where they have been. The #10yearchallenge is being adopted by young and old, individuals and companies, Jo public and celebrities; many of whom are celebrating changes or showing how far they’ve come in the past 10 years. Times have changed enormously since 2009 and the contrast between the slightly grainy images taken on our trusty Blackberries and the heavily filtered images of today is poignant. We live in a world where digital perfection is eagerly sought after and a Valencia filter is becoming a staple. But can we put a filter on our marketing efforts?

Absolutely not. Despite living in a world where people are shrouding themselves in a rose-tinted filter, they have little time for it when it comes from a sales and marketing perspective. Marketing is getting personal, it has been for a while and, companies have to be as real and as transparent as possible when marketing to these people. So, what can we do to keep our marketing as real as possible: 

Get to know your audience

This is the golden rule of successful marketing. If you do not know who you are talking to then how can you ensure you are speaking their language, serving them appropriate content and providing solutions to their pain points. The downfall of many marketeers is due to a lack of customer-centricity. The vast majority of companies now operate CRM programmes and the joy of living in the digital age we do, is that the footprints we leave behind on our digital journeys are accessible and trackable. There is really no excuse for not putting in the groundwork when it comes to your audience. Create buyer personas so you can create segmentation and serve personalised content based on information such as job title, industry vertical/sector, management level and budgetary responsibility.

Sherpa uses tools such as intent to identify where our clients’ customers are frequenting, what platforms they are using and what terms they are searching for. This insight enables us to ensure the content we serve them is appropriate to them and for whatever stage they are at in their buyer journey. This brings me nicely on to the next point…

Understand the buyer’s journey

We all know the statistic that in the tech buying cycle, 70% of the customer journey is already completed before the sales team is even enabled. That is a staggeringly high level of interaction and potential number of touchpoints, before the customer reaches out, so your communications have to be spot on. The customer will travel through the following stages (not always in a linear fashion!):

  1. Awareness stage: they are trying to define the issue they have, through research. They are not interested in brands or products at this point.
  2. Consideration stage: this is where they are deliberating solutions they have come across and are interested in narrowing down the options available.
  3. Decision stage: the customer reaches this stage when they have fully educated themselves on the options available and are actively looking for a service or product which can provide a solution to their problem. This is where they enter the sales cycle.

By understanding where they are in the buying cycle, you can ensure that you serve them content appropriate to whatever stage they are currently at.

Ensure the messaging is on point and targeted

Messaging at this point is key. If you are serving content with a strong sales CTA to somebody in the awareness stage of their journey, then you will immediately alienate them. You need to serve them top of funnel content which showcases your knowledge, such as an e-book or a specific blog. Once your audience is through the consideration stage and has identified their pain point, they should be receiving specialised middle of funnel content which is more refined and technical. Webinars and Q&As are a good option at this stage. Finally, the decision stage. Specialist bottom of funnel content can be complex as it needs to continue to answer your customer’s questions, nurture their progression through their buyer’s journey and in to your sales cycle. Case studies and competitor analyses are excellent forms of bottom of funnel content.

The messaging for each piece needs to be as targeted as possible so it can nurture your customer through every step of their journey.

Get personal

Being real in marketing is about making your communications human. 78% of marketers only use first name personalisation to customise messages, but there is so much more you can do in your marketing to tailor it to your customer. Whether this be dynamic web pages – where leads can be served content appropriate through automation and behavioural marketing; dynamic email content – which many businesses have reported to be their most effective personalisation tactic; or personalised video – through which you can send a short video directly to your customer’s inbox and speak directly to them. There are so many tools available to help you get personal, but above make your brand more human.

Be transparent

The final way to keep your marketing real is to be transparent. Gaining your customer’s trust is crucial. If you make promises in your marketing, then keep them – don’t try to lure your audience in with false hopes and then not deliver. Use subject lines which reflect your email content rather than enticing them through false messaging. Respect them and their privacy…GDPR has people tutting and sighing all over the country but it is here for a reason – be open with your policies, where you got their details and why you are emailing them. Gaining your audience’s trust is an integral step in to turning them in to clients. Because, let’s face it, if we wanted to be lied to, we’d switch the news back on to the Brexit debate.

For more information or to discuss how Sherpa can transform your marketing, please get in touch: 

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