How To Keep Customers Coming Back: 6 Trends You Should Know

werdifferentbillboard How To Keep Customers Coming Back: 6 Trends You Should Know
Living in southern California I love going to restaurants, cafes and retails stores to experience what companies are doing to attract customers.

From merchandising to customer service, I’m gradually seeing three popular marketing trends that everyone is doing to spread their brand voice.

First, almost every company is in on the social media bandwagon specifically leveraging Facebook and Twitter to engage with their fans and broadcast their offerings.

Second, companies are finding ways to collect your contact information to build their email list by offering discounts, coupons or customer loyalty programs.

And third, businesses are aware of their reputation online on places such as Yelp, Consumer Reports, OpenTable, BizRateAmazon and CNET.

Some of using these information as a way to improve products and identify service gaps.

All three marketing tactics are proven to be somewhat cost-effective in terms of managing their reputations online while funneling leads and converting sales.

There is enough free information out there that business owners and marketing managers can find to start immediately so I’m not surprise that everyone is doing it.

In fact, I always check out the Twitter or Facebook page of where I’ve visited to see what level of engagement and following they have as well as to identify how the platform was utilized.

The result I found is that companies fall into two categories of social media marketing buckets.

First are the highly engaged profiles with regular updates and a large following that creates instant social proof.  Second are the uninspiring profiles with the lack of updates and little to no interactions.

This is the same observations made by Jeremiah Owyang, who recently posted on his blog that, “many brands are jumping on the social media bandwagon, without giving proper thought about the impacts to their marketing effort.  In particular, many brands are putting ’social chicklets’ on their homepage to “Follow us on Twitter” or “Friend us on Facebook” without considering the ramifications.”

This is the problem with low barrier to entry tools such as Twitter and Facebook that many brands are using without a real deliberate strategy.

I encourage those of you that are serious about your digital marketing efforts to use Jeremiah’s matrix to help make your decisions.

Keep in mind, you must understand not just the rules of the game but also how it applies to your specific industry, your customers and your organization.

There is no doubt that the internet has made it easier to find what you’re looking for while connecting you with like-mined individuals from networking to referrals, relevant information is available in abundance.

The questions is where do people get those information and how will these content providers be perceived?

First you need to realize that all of the answers have changed.

Same Questions, Different Answer

Although the internet has forever changed our expectations in media consumption and in communication, one thing remains constant for businesses today: the question of how do we attract more customers to us?

How do we get customers to spread our brand? How do we get customers to buy more and buy often?

As a marketer today you must realize that we’ve been asking those same questions for decades and in order to answer them now you must first understand the following 6 fundamental social change in customer perception and behavior:

1. Choice overload: Customers are bombarded with choices; the market is saturated with selection.

And people get frustrated when they have to make a decision from tens and thousands of product categories, brands and price points.

Everything looks the same, everyone sounded alike and it doesn’t help when people have shorter attention span as we become more distracted everyday.

2. Conflicting information: We’re in a hyper-connected marketplace where people are using social media to discuss new products, do their own research, cross referencing information in the blogosphere and everything goes from frustration to confusion.

There is simply too much information and how can an average consumer know who’s right and who’s wrong?

3. Customers know marketing: Over time, customers understood the game of marketing regardless of B2C or B2B.

Described by Tom Asacker: We’re no longer passive consumers but active discerners participating in how products are marketed at us.

This is why there is an increasing trend in banner blindness and average web users will give you only 8 seconds to decide if they’re going to stay or not.

4. Lack of trust in the marketplace: There is a sense of distrust in the marketplace. People simply don’t trust individuals let alone corporations.

We’re conditioned to identify the tactics such as sense of urgency (buy now and save!), risk reversal (money back guaranteed!), or scarcity thinking (for a limited time!).

Watch any TV infomercials and you’ll find those tactics in most of them.

Simply put, these tactics are losing their effectiveness and even if they worked that led to engagement opportunities, you must meet the customer expectations otherwise it’s hard to fool them twice.

5. People define your brand: Brand messages only sets the initiate expectations of your target audience and ultimately people make meaning out of things themselves.

When push comes to shove, people go with what feels right not your product features or service benefits.

It’s how you make them feel, not what you tell them how they should feel. If they can relate to your message, it only means they’ll give you a few more seconds to keep going down your path to purchase.

Your brand is defined by how you make people feel about the decisions they’ve made not just your messages.

6. The shift towards frugality: This is the simplest concept to grasp as the recession has permanently changed the way consumers behave and perceive value.

It goes beyond pricing strategy and product promotions.

Whether you’re a retailer, a B2B service provider or a marketer, this means extracting deeper customer insights to build meaningful, differentiated messages that communicates relevancy.

This is best described by a recent article “The New Consumer Frugality” in Strategy+Business, by Booz & Company, in which the authors defined six frugal consumer segments.

s+b frugalconsumer How To Keep Customers Coming Back: 6 Trends You Should Know

After a thorough understanding of the above trends, you should also be aware of the fact that brands are becoming publishers creating opportunities that’s leveling the playing field.

And in order to be successful moving forward, you either have great content strategy or you have unique customer experience (in product or service innovation).

Content Marketing Creates Relevancy

Recently Joe Pulizzi of Junta42.com, a content strategy evangelist published a post after speaking at the Online Marketing Summit 2010 on how companies focus solely on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and social media that produce without a real content strategy.

Specifically he noted that “any online marketing, whether social media, email marketing, search engine optimization, landing page conversion, etc., does not work without first having content strategy.”

As a brand strategist that focuses on marketing integration, I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve heard business owners and marketing executives realize the need to change their strategy, but it’s often due to the need to “keep up” with the current trend.  “We must get into social media because everyone’s doing it,” or “We need to engage our customers on Facebook and Twitter.”

But what does engagement mean to your organization? How will that benefit your bottom line or increase sales?

It’s easy to setup a WordPress blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page or a LinkedIn Group.

The key is what will you be pushing out to generate meaningful conversations?

How will you provide value that sparks engagement?

Why would people spread your idea or pass on your name?

What’s the call-to-action when people get to your website, your blog, or your social media pages?

Product Innovation Creates Loyalty

The other way to win in the marketplace is to deliver awesome products or services that build brand loyalty via innovation.

An easy example would be what Apple is doing with their continuous innovation in products from iPod to iPhone to last weekend’s release of iPad.

Amazon’s endless pursue to have everything available, fast and easy via their online store regardless what you’re looking for.

Zappo’s unmatched customer service in finding and delivering not just the shoes you ordered but what you may also like.

For restaurants, it’s the food you cater, the service you provide, the price tag you put on as the total experience that says “we’re different.”

Customers will automatically go on to Yelp and OpenTable to give you reviews and recommendations. Your customer will decide what quality is and what value means to them.

I love what James Surowiecki wrote in an excellent piece in The New Yorker: “the more information people have, the tighter the relationship between quality and price: if you can deliver a product or service that is qualitatively better, you can charge top dollar. But if you can’t deliver the quality you can’t get the price.”

You’re going to struggle if you don’t deliver brand experience that’s worth talking about.

Everyone have access to the same tools and resources, if you can deliver a mix bag of value using content marketing strategy on your innovative products, you win.

The take away: Brands must adapt to the new realities that everyone is a content producer and we are no longer competing on eyeballs and clicks only, but value that builds long-lasting relationships in a trust-driven era.

It is essential to establish clear, integrated marketing strategies for various media channels in order to deliver personalized messages that properly aligned with your business objectives.

If you don’t know your desired outcome, why are you implementing tactics where you can’t see what success means to you?

If you don’t have exceptional products perhaps its time you should rethink your product strategy.

Are you re ready to get actionable to integrate your marketing efforts?

Further Reading

 

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  1. April 6th, 2010 at 21:58 | #1

    As a consumer and a frequent observer of brands in social media, I think that companies that succeed in using social networks are those that make their pages as personal and interactive as possible. It really boils down to how you market your brand and the quality of your product or service.
    .-= Julius´s last blog ..A Day in the Life of a Person with a Cognitive Disability =-.

  2. April 7th, 2010 at 03:50 | #2

    Julius,
    Too many brands does the “bear hug” in an attempt to capture as much market share as possible or focusing on “marketing” when the best strategy often means being different not just being better. Invest in your product is like investing in your customers, a better product creates happier customers, happy customers spread your ideas; and that in itself is the best form of marketing – via word of mouth.

  3. April 7th, 2010 at 19:24 | #3

    Eric, brilliant observations, and I couldn’t agree more. Far too many business owners think social media is a panacea. But it’s not. Strategy always comes before tactics. Social media won’t save you if you can’t establish a point of differentiation.

  4. April 8th, 2010 at 23:48 | #4

    Hi Tom,
    Social media is a two way street or should I say intersection? There are visible accountabilities from those that participate, either be helpful or be different. But in today’s marketing, it’s more important to be different than be better. Thanks for your comment.

  5. April 15th, 2010 at 23:02 | #5

    Hey there! Just wanted to say that this is one well written article! Thanks for posting this. I was looking for a site that has this kind of info and I’m glad I stumbled upon this one. Gotta love the affiliate marketing business :D Keep up the great articles.

    ——
    http://www.themarketingthief.com/jv465103.php

  6. April 22nd, 2010 at 08:14 | #6

    Thanks for your feedback, affiliate marketing is going through some changes as businesses become increasingly social (both online and offline) I see affiliate marketing consolidating into a complete and integrated marketing tactic.

  7. January 25th, 2012 at 02:44 | #7

    Hey Designdamage,
    Very interesting, While it’s not possible to predict what’s going to happen in the future, it’s pretty easy to predict the trends in the field of project management. How? Here’s the secret. We can forecast the project management trends with a moderate level of confidence based on what has happened in the previous year and based on recent survey results. Let’s see that now.
    BTW great blogpost

  8. January 31st, 2012 at 13:00 | #8

    How To Keep Customers Coming Back: 6 Trends You Should Know.

    http://t.co/1H1UOWqC

  9. January 31st, 2012 at 22:39 | #9

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my web site so i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to enhance my web site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

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