Each new year in business brings fresh challenges and opportunities. Those fluctuations derive from the changing economy and changes in customer preferences and habits… No matter if your business is brick-and-mortar, has an e-commerce model, or is a business you are planning to launch this year, you need effective marketing strategies — whether you are seeking to grow or just to ‘keep the lights on.’ Read on to learn some of the hows, wheres, whens, and whys your customers “consume” the information that helps them to make purchase decisions in today’s marketplace.
How Well Do You Relate To Your Customers?
This is not about knowing each of your customers by name. It’s about understanding how your customer base is composed of segments, each with its own set of interests and needs. These interests and needs likely overlap, but in some way define the segments of your customer base. Each of your segments could be defined by demographics, purchase history, or even whether they are loyalists or ‘tire kickers’ off the street. This information can most often be gleaned from your sales data along with any database you might have of your customers, such as a newsletter list or customer loyalty program. If you have databases or sales information, consider spending some time ‘data mining’ the rich information these information sources can provide.
If you don’t have access to this type of information, you can gather it through a customer survey, a sign-up for your store newsletter, or through anecdotal or observational information from your employees. Consider gathering key pieces of information, such as major areas of interest, age, favorite authors, and even direct questions regarding their feelings about your business. Ask them what they love best and least about your business. Ask them how they would best describe your business to a good friend.
All of this can lead to identifying customer segments that you can individually market to, demonstrating a strong relationship between their needs and wants, and what you have to offer. Develop a segmentation plan that you can truly make use of through segment campaigns. Relationship marketing is not a new concept, but one that has stood the test of time and proves to your customers that you are listening and responding to what they most want to experience or consume from your business.
What Is The Experience Your Customers Have With Your Brand, Store, Or Company?
While customers desire a brand experience that speaks directly to their needs, customers and potential customers don’t generally interact with your brand through a single method or channel, such as only through social media, your website, your newsletter, mainstream advertising, events, email campaigns, or through shopping at your store. It is more likely that they are experiencing your brand through one or more of those, at minimum. Can you articulate in a few phrases what is the desired experience you want your customers to have through ‘touching’ your brand across each channel? Is your marketing offering consistent messaging through each of them? Take some time to evaluate the places and ways in which you are messaging your brand to assure you offer consistency in language, images, tone, and style to provide your customers with the experience you want your brand and business to offer.
Are Your Pictures (And Videos) Worth A Thousand Words?
There is no way around it – in 2023, video and live streams are crucial for consumer and customer engagement. According to a report on wix.com, “in 2021, it’s estimated that consumers spent around 548 billion hours streaming through mobile devices.” Video-based content is not just for younger generations but is now consumed widely by members of every generation, whether through social media channels like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and other up-and-coming platforms. Facebook and other ‘live stream” media are powering what some call the creator economy, with an estimated earning potential of $78 billion through 2025. While many retailers still reject social media as a valid marketing opportunity, many others are now including product and author videos, store tours, and even videos with employees as they present their “favorite” lists from your store inventory. Videos need not be expensive or even high-end. They don’t need to be long – a good product video should not exceed 90 seconds and could be even shorter, depending on your subject matter. A smartphone can generally record a credible video and give you new content for every marketing channel your business is using, including your own website. Commit to creating more video content and have fun doing it!
Are You Ignoring Social Commerce To Your Detriment?
Many industry writers consider social commerce to be the most important trend of the last several years, with this important trend continuing forward. Most marketers today understand that social commerce is a marketing opportunity in which consumers research products and complete transactions through social media and content creation platforms, all within a social media app. According to projections by the firm McKinsey & Company, social commerce is expected to grow rapidly in the U.S., reaching nearly $80 billion, or 5% of total U.S. e-commerce by 2025.
What does this mean for brick-and-mortar retailers? While many instituted an online store during the COVID years of 2020 and 2021, this means more than simply driving traffic to your online store. This an opportunity to catch consumers ‘where they live,’ meaning offering them one-stop shopping on other platforms, where they are most likely to make an ‘in the moment’ purchase, rather than asking them to leave the site they are on to visit a brand new one. “For example, leading brands are working with platforms such as TikTok to forge new relationships with consumers, shifting from traditional advertising strategies to fun, engaging content that is less overtly promotional,” wrote McKinsey.
If you don’t know how to set up social commerce opportunities, consider hiring a short-term consultant to help you get started. Carefully match your product offerings to the demographics for each social media or other types of platform, and rotate your offerings often to keep your brand relevant and interest in what you provide fresh and active.
Choose one marketing strategy to start with, and make a resolution to incorporate an additional one each quarter to the end of the year. Keeping pace with how, when, where, and why people purchase your products or services is the key to a healthy and robust business. It can be the crucial difference between succeeding and remaining in stasis until your brand and business no longer feel relevant to consumers. Take a leap of faith! It will be worth it.