2015: The Year of Customer-Centric Marketing
Towards the end of each year, Fresh Egg’s digital experts give you a unique insight into their key predictions as to how the digital landscape will shape up in the year ahead. Our Director of client services, Sarah Leach, predicted that in 2015 customer-led marketing will be a defining success factor for many businesses.
Why is customer-led marketing key in 2015?
Developments and trends in digital marketing are predominantly informed by Google’s latest thinking; whatever the channel, be it social, SEO or paid search, the digital space is ultimately shaped by the world’s most influential search engine. Google’s focus is providing search results that are truly relevant and accurately meet the needs of those searching. This prerogative is reflected in their algorithm updates and is typified by 2014’s Hummingbird, which has semantic search at its heart and held the search intent of Google users - your customers - to be crucial.
Hummingbird aims to ensure that search results are contextually relevant and attempts to usurp outdated keyword focused tactics. Historically, such methods were popularly used to boost a website’s ranking on Google but didn’t truly meet the needs of potential customers. Over-emphasis on keywords is one example of a non-customer led approach to online marketing which can lead to content that isn’t genuinely useful to its intended audience. This approach often fails to address questions or offer solutions in an authentic manner as the copy merely picks up on the keywords being searched for, without taking account of the context or the overarching meaning of the search.
Fresh Egg was ahead of the curve in recognising that the customer is at the centre of any digital strategy – we were espousing the value of pursuing an audience-led approach to businesses long before Hummingbird was announced. We recognise that this technique helps to pinpoint opportunities for our clients to target to improve the success of their marketing efforts and that this is relevant whatever your industry sector or business size. So, CEOs, directors and marketing managers - listen up as we delve deeper into what this means for your business!
What do you need to understand about your audience to inform your marketing?
A truly audience-led approach goes a lot deeper than looking at demographics or buyer personas alone. To gain a fully rounded understanding of your audience, you need to immerse yourself in their world and ask the following:
- What sources do your customers read and trust?
- How do your customers respond to threat of risk or promise of reward?
- What events trigger your customers to look for your product?
- How, what and where do your customers search and what are they hoping to find?
- What factors affect your customers’ decision making process?
Once you can answer these sorts of questions you can start to adapt your processes accordingly, and shape your marketing approach based on the insight gained.
How should a focus on your customers feed in to your digital marketing strategy?
The customer should become a central consideration that runs through all aspects of your digital marketing strategy. Whether you are developing a website from scratch, redesigning aspects of your existing site or creating content as part of an inbound marketing campaign; it is crucial to meet the search intent of your audience in order to reap the rewards of increased organic visibility. Understanding what your audience is searching for helps to highlight gaps which you can address to improve the success of your marketing efforts as well as your customers’ experience.
An understanding of your audience has particularly strong implications for content which, whether onsite or offsite as part of a social media campaign, for example, must go beyond being keyword rich. Content must be valuable, engaging and authentic; addressing the needs of those searching by considering and responding to their motivations, desires and interests. For example, if your audience is searching for what to do and see in Cornwall in the summer, you could meet the needs of the search by producing a blog article about activities, events and attractions in June, July and August; including calls-to-action that promote and link back to your relevant products and services.
An analysis of your audience can also provide a basis to generate inbound campaign ideas and give you a good indication of which channels would work best. It can also help you to identify the sorts of media partners you should look to build relationships with that you can leverage for off-site promotion, to get your content seen and increase engagement. A strong example of a brand that has used this approach is that of Innocent Smoothies, which successfully uses audience insight to inform campaign ideas as well as choice of channels and partnerships.
Innocent Smoothies: a customer-centric case study
Innocent Smoothies’ marketing campaigns have a strong customer focus running through them. The integration of products and brand voice, along with the right choice of channels and partnerships, communicates a strong message to the audience. This hooks in to their psyche as it is closely in keeping with their motivations, desires and interests.
Innocent has a clear sense of brand that is closely married to its products, which are pure, unadulterated, crushed fruit drinks that are naturally healthy. The brand connotations of “doing good” for your body are linked with the idea of doing something good for the community through the campaigns and relations that Innocent pursues.
Innocent’s “Big Knit” campaign in partnership with Age UK, for example, reinforces this sentiment. The campaign combined offline techniques – a lovely miniature knitted hat on top of the bottle and a donation of 25p to charity for every bottle purchased – with a robust social strategy to support and amplify the campaign.
The choice of social media as a digital marketing channel is informed by Innocent’s audience, who are community focused. Social is a very direct form of communication, which reflects the down-to-earth values of the brand. Innocent uses a natural conversational tone across Twitter and Facebook, reinforcing brand values and building rapport with the audience. Notably, Innocent encourages discussion and responds quickly, building a sense of community. Customers who have bought a be-hatted smoothie and done their good deed for the day can spread the word about their charitable efforts on social platforms. Innocent leverages peoples’ desire to publicise their own charitable efforts as a means to increase engagement with the brand in the social space.
The Big Knit campaign has raised over £1.5million since it started in 2003, and doubtless the success of the campaign has proved invaluable in terms of the gains Innocent has made from becoming established as a brand of choice in the smoothie market.
Another example of successful customer-centric approach by a well-known brand is that of Virgin Holidays. By understanding what drives Virgin customers, the brand tailors the content produced to meet the needs of each type of customer. For example, some of Virgin’s customers are very service driven, so content created for this group reflects all of the added value offered around the brand’s services, such as the Virgin concierge service.
What else is happening in the industry that confirms an audience-led approach is the way forward?
Julian Erbsloeh, Fresh Egg’s Head of insight, predicts that there will be improved personalisation of websites over the coming year, with more companies adopting technology that makes use of advanced profiling and segmentation. In addition, he foresees that analytics will become more user-centric with increased use of profiling, personalisation and remarketing. And it’s not just our experts who have spotted this development; the BBC recently published a technology lookahead that details the ways in which data-driven personalisation will be a key trend for 2015.
The rise of personalisation supports the importance of an audience-led approach to marketing, as both trends harness the power of offering users a bespoke experience fully tailored to their needs. Personalisation can be leveraged in order to influence the audience’s level of engagement with the brand – the same concept that runs through a customer-led marketing strategy. So, placing a data and insight-driven customer-centric approach at the heart of your marketing strategy is key for the success of your business in the digital sphere, for the year ahead.
If you're wondering how Fresh Egg could help you develop your business' digital marketing strategy, then get in touch.