We are living in a tumultuous and uncertain digital age. One where technology can make or break your business. Thanks to ubiquitous Internet connectivity, incidents in far away places have the potential to send shockwaves around the world. How should marketers embrace this “brave new world”? What are the strategies that we can employ to stay resilient and afloat?
Digital Marketing is Now Default
Digital media is no longer “new media”. Thanks to the sheer connectivity offered by digital technology, companies around the world can reach their customers anytime, anywhere, on any platform through any channel – often in the twinkling of an eye (or the swipe of a screen).
From Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Social Media Marketing (SMM), Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising to Content Marketing, Marketing Automation to Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), you can use a suite of digital marketing techniques to attract, convert, and retain your customers.
These online marketing methods are supplemented with chatbots, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), predictive analytics, Augmented Reality (AR), tags, cookies, geo-tagging, and a whole barrage of technologies.
Collectively, these tools and techniques can be deployed to automate, amplify and activate your customer reach, engagement, lead generation and conversion on platforms and channels like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, WhatsApp, and many others.
But what happens when technologies shift? Or when global pandemics — like the indefatigable Covid-19 — wreaks havoc on the world?
But What if Technology Shifts Yet Again?
At the time of this writing, governments in leading developed nations are pushing back against tech giants like Facebook, Google, Huawei, Bytedance (owner of TikTok), Amazon and Apple.
From the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) instituted by the EU, antitrust class action suits against Google for monopolistic behaviours, to legal action against Facebook (possibly forcing it to give up WhatsApp and Instagram), it appears that nation states are trying hard to regain more control of the online world.
This isn’t surprising when we consider how powerful these technology behemoths are. At the snap of a finger, they can vaporize your online presence (see Donald Trump and yes, we knew that it was coming).
Consumer-protection legislations will result in tighter and tighter controls of what the tech giants can and cannot do. And this will affect marketers like you and me.
Build an Evergreen and Channel Agnostic Brand
Against this seismic changes, there are certain things you can do which can hopefully withstand these disruptions.
Start by building a strong and resonant brand that transcends all platforms — one that is impervious to changes in algorithms or government legislations.
To do so, you’ll need to define what your brand is really about, and how it adds value to the lives of others. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the unique market space occupied by my brand?
- What is the perpetual problem that I can help my customers to solve?
- How do I bring immense value to my networks?
- How do I win over the hearts and minds of my audiences?
- How can my customers feel a sense of connection and co-ownership so that it becomes part of their brand story too?
- How do I build a presence that can cross over to multiple channels and platforms?
Your goal isn’t just to create a high converting website (although that is important) or amass the most fans on Facebook.
Rather, it lies in building an evergreen brand that is remembered with affection by your customers.
Build a Loyal Brand Tribe
Next, consider how you can seed and grow a community of like-minded members.
These followers and fans are those whom your brands have personally touched and influenced in some way or other. They may be customers (of course), followers of your Instagram account, subscribers to your email list, or folks who have you on their WhatsApp or Telegram accounts.
What’s unique about your brand tribe is that they are…
- Willing to vouch for your brand, your company or your products
- Regular and happy customers of your branded products
- Pleased to be part of your brand community — your magic circle of believers who see themselves in what your brand is all about
To do so, you need to continually be present for your members. Publish useful content that helps them to be better versions of themselves. Connect them to valuable resources.
Facilitate real-life friendships between your members — not just friends on Facebook, but real-life buddies united by a common love for what your brand stands for.
Conduct Marketing Experiments
OK, so its great to build an everlasting brand while forging friendship (and even kinship) amongst your brand fans.
How can you inoculate your brand against the vagaries of technological (and other) disruptions?
Well, be like a scientist and a researcher!
Continuously challenge your assumptions. Test any marketing hypothesis you may have and verify that it works.
Do little marketing experiments across your different online and offline channels. This may be as simple as filming a video and publishing it on Instagram every single day, split-testing different landing page layouts and designs, to piloting and testing different email offers.
Let’s not forget physical offline marketing efforts. Send a surprise gift to your customers and see how they respond. Publish physical books and guides, and mail them to your most loyal fans — for free!
The key here is to get a handle of your marketing analytics and ROI across different channels, and a sense of what works (and what doesn’t).
Diversify Your Marketing Investments
Finally — and perhaps most significantly in this age of perpetual disruption — you’ll need to find a way to amortize your marketing risk.
This may involve exploring new channels of customer traffic (TikTok and Telegram?), novel marketplaces (Instagram shops?), fresh content formats (vertical ‘stories’ or live-streaming videos), or marketing technologies.
While these investments may not yield a positive ROI from the start, going into them early may help you to gain a head start on your competitors.
Just a year or two ago, webinars weren’t seen as a serious conversion channel here in Singapore. Most of us preferred physical seminars and workshops.
However, thanks (or no thanks) to Covid-19 and safe distancing measures, physical events have become less feasible. This has led to a surge in businesses using tools like Zoom, Webex, Google Meets and others to connect with both prospects and customers.
QR codes are another interesting phenomenon — these have risen to the forefront in recent months, and are now viewed to part-and-parcel of our daily lives.
The moral of the story here is to be ready to embrace emerging technologies when the need arises.
To summarize and recap, here are the ways to ensure that your marketing is “future-ready”:
- Build an evergreen brand anchored on strong customer value
- Nurture a tribe of brand fans and followers
- Test and evaluate different marketing formats, concepts and channels
- Spread your marketing eggs across multiple channels
Are there other ways for us to keep our long-term marketing efforts sustainable? Let me know in the comments below!