As technology continues to advance, the way we connect with brands is also changing – something that hits especially close to home for organizations looking to amplify customer engagement and build long-term relationships.
The Internet, of course, is a driving force behind this change and is pushing the evolution of traditional marketing strategies, which focused on purchase as the end-goal. Now, consumers are engaged with brands beyond point of purchase and throughout the product lifecycle –actively promoting (or indeed, assailing) products post-purchase. This interaction enables more of a two-way conversation, which in turn allows for more personalized offers and, ultimately, fosters a feeling of trust between the consumer and the brand.
Brand Choice is a Feeling
A long held view of mine is that brand choice is based on emotion. Because the Internet is so pervasive in connecting consumers, marketers must change the way their brand is built and, thus, how they evoke emotion. Look at message visualization for instance, or above-the-line media, which is traditionally found in image-intensive outputs like television ads, billboards and magazines. These techniques evoke an emotional response in consumers that is now becoming diluted as focus shifts to Internet-friendly mediums like email. This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed, as evidenced by highly visual online platforms gaining more popularity– Pinterest and Instagram are just two examples. There’s a huge swing back to this visualization of messaging, but rather than on a billboard or in a magazine, it’s now in a digital form.
Beyond visualization, another challenge organizations are facing is building a personal connection. Your banking experience used to be very personal some thirty or so years ago – you knew the bank manager; you saw him or her regularly, conversed and built a strong relationship. Now, however, it’s tough to do that through an app or online. There’s a feeling of mistrust with banks that is largely due to this lost emotional connection. This, of course, extends beyond banks to any organization looking to connect with consumers. Having great prices is just one piece of the puzzle. The real question is: do you have heart?
In our digital world, the answer to this may lie in realizing that “personal” is inherently different from “personalization”. An email that says my name in the introduction is great, but pales in comparison to a really good phone conversation with a call center agent. Building this personal connection is where social channels come into play. They provide organizations with the opportunity to foster more one-to-one conversations with customers, provide deeper customer insight, and re-instill that strong emotional connection that nurtures brand trust.
It’s safe to say that the way we communicate and the ways we engage with brands have a symbiotic relationship. And in addition to social, there are other engagement formats and channels like video and mobile that add to customers’ exposure and perception of an organization. It’s important to identify the right mix of tools, resources and strategy that are appropriate for your audience, which is something I’ll delve into further in my upcoming posts.
You can read more about these trends and other upcoming topics for this series in a research report conducted on behalf of Pitney Bowes Software by the Center for Marketing Studies, Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina titled “Customer Communications in the Digital Era”, available for download here.
***Picture from TextMagic.com