How do marketers show that their brands care for their customers?
Thanks to personalization strategies for digital advertising, brand image has become linked to micro-moments — a consumer behavior trend that describes the instances when personal considerations drive customers to find the product or service they need.
The micro-moments trend means marketers can no longer dictate how consumers perceive the value of the brand. Marketers must prove to customers that a product or service has value.
A history lesson
To understand the value of aligning marketing to micro-moments, look at the heyday of the “Big Three” U.S. automakers as an example of what happens when marketers coerce a customer connection to a product. For decades Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler would offer variations on a vehicle platform with superficial appearance changes to fit each division’s brand image and marketing messages. For example, a Ford Motor Company compact sedan called Granada was offered – with few exterior changes — as a Mercury Monarch, to fit the near-luxury image of the Mercury division; and as a Lincoln Versailles to fit the top-tier luxury image of Lincoln. In that era brands had latitude in the marketplace to push a solution (a vehicle) to fill a sales channel, rather than to fulfill a specific customer’s need.
Fast forward to today’s highly competitive U.S. auto market. A few traditional brand divisions, like Mercury, are gone, and automakers can develop vehicles with shared components, but with vehicle components engineered to suit a vehicle’s performance and customer needs. The latest Honda Civic and CR-V have the same chassis platform but different suspensions, bodies, and interior appearance, to cater to different buyer segments (small car and SUV).
Moreover, today’s customers have access to information, making them extremely knowledgeable when searching for product and service experiences.
This industry history lesson informs marketers that they can’t present a product or service just to fill a channel. Doing so creates a “Hey, buy our stuff!” message when a “Hey, we know you’re looking for something – let us help” message is more effective. Brand must prove they can fulfill a specific customer’s need at a given micro-moment.
So how do marketers develop marketing and content for customer micro-moments?
An analytics-based approach
Micro-moments start when the customer turns to their smartphone or other smart device. At that moment the customer asks themselves questions like:
- How can I do a certain task, like removing a stain from a shirt?
- How can I find a local business to satisfy a specific need, such as a café or a yoga spot?
- How can I complete a pressing task like renting lighting equipment for photography?
- Generally, how can I buy a product or service I need right now?
Answering these types of questions can frame what goes into content and campaigns that enocurage customers to trust your brand, and to purchase.
Other steps help marketers imagine who sees the campaigns. Here’s how to kindle that imagination.
Imagine the profession and news sources for a persona
Most marketers realize the value of demographics, such as age and income. But focusing on a customer persona’s profession and where they normally go for information can unveil needs that arise daily, along with the context of those needs and values. The end result is micro-moments that are opportunities to connect to customers in new ways.
Third-party research can help define trends surrounding those needs and values. For example, eMarketer and Pew are two great sources for learning the latest about consumer engagement, and global demographic trends, respectively.
Plan SEO, paid search, and social based on questions your persona would ask
Researching keywords for SEO and paid search is still important. But to reach customers, marketers must pick phrases that reflect what consumers are asking during micromoments. Those phrases prompt content to demonstrate to that person how a product or service can help their tasks get done.
Marketers should also look at how to refine keywords based on persona behavior. Google noted at its Think With Google site that consumers arrive at stores as “well-advised,” and searching with “near me” phrases. That behavior has given rise to search term modifiers that reflect immediacy, nearness, and quality. For example, mobile search queries containing the word “best” , according to Google, increased 80 percent over the last two years.
Use third party data sources to research economic and macro-views of people
Data visualization tools, from Tableau and Neo4j to open source programming R and Python, allow users to import data and build data relationship models. A variety of data sources such as data.world and Kaggle can provide economic and demographic data. Marketers can also look for trial databases for training machine learning initiatives – IBM offers sample retail and marketing datasets from its Watson initiatives for data mining practice.
All of these can help refine business intelligence projects like customer life cycle and marketing model mix.
Plan multichannel analytics reporting
Analytics reports can help marketers plan strategy around channels. Google Analytics’ Audiences report, for example, allows a comparison of conversion performance across different audience segments. This helps marketers to determine at a glance which personas are performing best against an engagement metric. They can then use the information to refine a campaign message, increasing the likelihood of downloading a white paper, watching a how-to video, or ordering a product for in-store pick-up.
Brand image is a key signal to your customers that your product or service can be trusted. But customers turn to brands when they need to, not when brands want the sale. That’s why marketers must understand what micro-moments matter to customers so that their brand is considered trustworthy and helpful.