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Listening, Segmentation, Automation: 10 Tips for Laying the Foundation for a Strong Digital Marketing Program
Many marketing white papers talk a lot about specific tactics and how to maximize your approach to one key task. Having better calls to action and delivering the best offers by working closely with your business stakeholders are excellent strategies to drive more revenue. But sometimes, the advice can (and should) take a higher look at how to remake your entire marketing effort.
Just about every marketer has to make hard decisions daily about how they spend their limited time and resources, so you want to make sure you’re making the most efficient use of the tools and strategies you’re employing. One of the best ways to maximize your marketing resources is to focus on mastering three key strategies and then base your future success on delivering your best work in these areas. This tip sheet focuses on the critical “Big Three” of Listening, Segmentation and Automation. And yes, you should think about them in that order – beginning with listening and ending with action.
So let’s dive into 10 tips across these three key areas of digital marketing.
Today, listening is often more important to marketing success than publishing – especially in
social channels. That may sound crazy, but if you’re not dedicating a large chunk of your effort to listening, then you’re missing the point. Think of it this way: There’s much more value in using channels to listen rather than shouting.
The chances of winning by driving more impressions to your content, SKU or sign-up page are fading. Instead, being more focused on making your chosen campaigns 20 percent or 30 percent more effective is increasingly proving to be a more scalable way to grow your business. Aim to build a core competency in customer listening — and do it closest to your most progressive executive.
TIP #1: Expand the way you think about listening.
Many marketers do an excellent job of capturing prospect and customer behaviors in some areas, but either neglect others or do so only at an aggregate level. Make it a goal
to listen more closely to individuals — and at scale. Look at the customer journey and think about all the ways contacts interact with you across channels – purchases, emails, mobile apps, social, Web behaviors, etc.
Where could you do a better job of listening?
Next, identify the key behaviors that are most important to your business. If you don’t have a process in place for capturing and understanding these behaviors, that’s where you’ll want to focus your initial listening efforts.
TIP #2: Get your data in order.
Speaking of which, having a fully baked identity schema that flows across multiple technology systems and customer groups is critical to effective listening. If you’re in growth mode, take the time to put a Customer ID project on your road map. Ensure all your touch points can at least identify your users, and begin to aggregate data in a central place — whether that’s a marketing automation platform, CRM or other central repository.
You can then take steps to build out the technology integrations needed to pull data into this central location and tie it to individual users, giving you a fuller view of contacts that’s emblematic of good listening.
TIP #3: Double down on social listening.
Social networks are one of the best places to do market research and keep your finger on the pulse of customer satisfaction. Almost every business has a steady stream of new products that – in a perfect world – are driven by customer demand. What better place than a Twitter search, for example, to plug in highly specific keywords and immediately see what a couple hundred million people think about a specific topic?
If you’re not already, try spending a day a month searching your brand and product names across all relevant social networks. See how and when people post about your brand. Think through the types of customer dialogue your marketing is creating. Are others in your organization having two-way conversations? Or are unanswered complaints the norm?
In addition, look deeply at tools, such as IBM’s Personality Insights API, that enable you to listen at scale. Leverage specific data elements into the core structure of your database and use them to further split test your best-performing campaigns.
Finally, take a deep look at what your top two or three competitors are doing in social. Look closely at the full conversations behind their tweets originating from their main account. Do their customers consistently complain about pricing or uptime? Or are there multiple customer conversations praising their support and product teams? Understanding the general social sentiment toward them is interesting data to have.
“Moving Listening to the Next Level in Your Marketing”
Tighter audience segmentation — the process of splitting your database into many smaller lists based on criteria such as email opens, purchases or demographic elements — could mean the difference between hitting your revenue goals this quarter and missing them by 20 percent.
In a landscape in which just about every marketer has more work than they could possibly accomplish, segmentation can also help you prioritize your work. For example, it might help you spend more time marketing to your customers who spend the most. Being inquisitive in your segmentation thinking might also enable you to define new nurture streams targeted to your most-likely-to-churn customers. Done right, concerted segmentation enables you to isolate and market to very specific customers on a one-to-one basis.
TIP #4: Think segmentation first, message second.
With the growth of marketing technology, a new challenge has emerged: ensuring the “science” and “art” of your marketing coexist in harmony. With this in mind, how can you best approach the question of segmentation (who’s getting the message) versus one of creative execution (what’s the call-to-action in the message)?
Any marketer today can instantly become more effective and behavioral-driven by improving their thinking around audience selection. That’s why you should typically look first at segmentation when considering your campaign efforts. Thinking more strongly about who receives your communications can remake your entire approach. The beauty of applying science (segmentation) before art (message) is that you’ll almost always reduce the size of your audience, but nearly always increase the relevance and revenue driven from each campaign. Once you’ve thought through the audience aspect of your message, you’ll be able to focus on developing some awesome creative.
TIP #5: Identify your key segments and personas.
To hone your segmentation efforts, look to get familiar with the thinking and rough implementation of five to seven segments across your customer base. If you haven’t considered segments at all, take a top-line crack at them before going much further in your data journey.
Make it a priority to invest the time and resources into creating a top-line set of persona models, maybe beginning with two or three and going deeper over time. (For more details on building out buyer personas, please see the IBM Marketing Cloud tip sheet, “10 Tips for Developing Buyer Personas.”)Don’t forget to look for newly developing segments — slicing the audience differently can be an enlightening moment for marketing, and stacking them together can really drive revenue.
TIP #6: Think both demographic and behavioral.
Demographic data is an excellent place to begin your segmentation thinking. Splitting your database by gender, family size, location and email domain can be the basis for some solid content-sharpening exercises.
You can also segment on key behaviors, such as opening an email, visiting a page on your website, downloading your mobile app, watching a video and more. Combining both demographic (explicit) and behavioral (implicit) data and considering the full scope of what someone says, does and buys can provide critical insights – not just into that individual, but also others who might act and buy similarly.
Imagine you’re a clothing retailer with a contact who self-reports at opt-in as a woman. You might initially send her emails focused on women’s apparel, but if she continually views men’s items – perhaps in an attempt to improve the wardrobe of a significant other – you could then adjust your content accordingly. Not only would you likely see a lift in conversions, but you’d be subtly demonstrating that your marketing is paying attention at an individual level.