Increasing customer engagement is about complementing existing digital strategies with new approaches so that you have a complete inbound marketing strategy that gets customers to act. However, this doesn’t mean that all strategies work for all customers. Increasing touch-points within your digital funnel comes down to choosing digital investments that work and interact with your audience. Here is a list of some of the top digital investments to make in 2018.
Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of assuming that marketing automation will solve all your marketing problems. It’s not a “plug-and-play” solution and is most definitely not a “set-it-and-forget-it” tool. It takes time to make marketing automation work. You must invest the resources. Far too many companies invest in a software and immediately go out and buy email lists under the assumption that their system is so automated it will do the rest. It won’t.
Marketing automation works when you make it work. Your software should match the tactics and strategies you employ, which in turn should match your buyer personas. The ultimate goal with marketing automation is to have a software solution that seamlessly integrates with your digital funnel. Delivering customized content at predetermined touch-points helps to keep customers engaged and interested. That happens when you thoroughly understand your buyer personas, have an in-depth understanding of their buyer journey and have invested the time to make the software work.
Chatbots or Live Chat?
Long thought of as just a customer service platform, chatbots and live chat have morphed into lead generation tools. However, while live chat requires live support and supervision due to its reliance on customer service representatives, chatbots are automated software solutions that are less expensive, run 24/7 and can handle multiple inquiries at once. This makes them a stronger solution than live chat because so much of live chat is sequential and time consuming. With live chat, a customer service representative must manually move prospects from one possible solution to the next. Chatbots do these tasks instantaneously. Customers want fast answers and chatbots give them those answers. With the right approach, your chatbot can guide prospects to specific areas of your website and cut down on response times. This solution has become so popular that up to 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
AR was one of Gartner’s top predictions of 2017 with an estimated 100 million consumers shopping in augmented reality by 2020. Now, does this mean your company should investigate AR or even VR reality platforms and software? It depends. If you’re a retailer or eCommerce company servicing everyday consumers, then investigating these solutions may make sense. If your customer demographic is Generation Z, which is those consumers born between 1995 and 2012, or if your buyer personas are into gaming consoles, then VR might be an attractive solution. Ultimately, it comes down to your audience. Will either of these solutions reach your buyer personas and can you leverage them for business growth?
Mobile Apps and Messenger
With upwards of 23% of users abandoning apps after just one use, many companies are left wondering whether apps have any future. While businesses may be disillusioned with the performance of their apps, it doesn’t mean that we’re experiencing a mobile engagement crisis. There are multiple reasons why an app doesn’t resonate with consumers. Issues such as loading time, poor design, tendency to crash, and having no “wow” factor, are all reasons why customers may not adopt your app.
Don’t give up on apps just yet. However, if you’ve tried your own apps, and failed to connect with your audience, then perhaps migrating to Facebook Messenger Ads is a viable solution. In fact, Facebook has launched Instagram click to Messenger ads, and since Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012, many advertisers see this as a great way to leverage Facebook’s 1 billion-plus members along with Instagram’s 800 million members. Both social media platforms focus on eye-catching imagery and rich media videos. This may just be a solution for your company and it could give you a chance to visually promote your offering to a larger audience.
No, this isn’t just about recommitting yourself to blogging, or pumping out more content on social media or even altering your content marketing strategy with guest posts on other forums and websites. It’s not about link-building either. It’s about making an honest assessment by asking yourself whether you’re enacting the right approach. Your goal for 2018 should be to make sure that content marketing is an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy. Here are some things to focus on and questions to answer.
1. Does your content strategy reintroduce customers back into your digital funnel?
Content marketing isn’t just about generating interest on the top-end of your funnel. It’s about increasing engagement and improving the customer’s experience. Marketing automation might help you align the strategy once you’ve outlined it, but you need to define all the touch-points for your customers and have a marketing strategy that engages them at every step.
2. Do you have a complete content strategy that uses multiple mediums?
Content today includes rich media videos, vivid imagery, whitepapers, case-studies, info-graphics, podcasts and webcasts. All of this is incorporated within a content strategy that employs proactive search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. In fact, AR and VR are part of the content landscape now and new voice-based search platforms like Apple’s Airpods and Google Home are ushering a new age for internet searches. How you approach your content strategy begins and ends with whom you’re targeting. A digital marketing company may be able to help you redefine which content is best for your customers.
3. Does your content embrace your brand?
Customers help define your brand online by how engaged they are. The best companies track their online reputation and proactively address customer issues. However, none of that works unless your team is always realigning its content strategy to a changing marketplace. This means you need to approach it with a fluid mindset and not treat your content strategy as a static, one-time event. Revisit past content pieces. Keep abreast of emerging trends and always assess your content’s performance.
Making an investment decision concerning digital marketing is never easy. There are a great number of companies who’ve pursued strategies and invested capital only to find the approach wasn’t geared to their audience. Don’t make that same mistake. Do your research and invest the time.