The internet has forever changed the relationship between consumers and brands. Digital or online marketing, in its nascent phase at the turn of the millennium, gave us the concept of two-way interactive communication between organizations and customers, known as “inbound marketing.” This transformation represented a new way of marketing compared to the traditional, one-way, outbound dialogue brands had with their audiences through television, radio and print in the 20th century — active for the marketer and passive for the consumer.
Today, marketing is intimate. The marketer and the consumer are highly connected and interactively involved as marketers leverage powerful tools to enrich the brand-customer relationship. The following are three of the most impressive advancements in 21st-century marketing that you can harness with training in the University of Southern Indiana’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Marketing online program:
1. Drive Engagement with Data-Driven Decision-Making
While online marketing affords customer engagement opportunities absent from traditional media, the internet overflows with content. Consumers are inundated with thousands of messages each day, so the content must stand out to catch their eye. Today, brand loyalty is less about actual product or service satisfaction and more about marketers overcoming the surrounding noise in the environment overwhelming consumers’ senses.
Marketers must break through the clutter in order to get target consumers to see their ads, watch their video content or take another action that advances the relationship toward a conversion goal. This process is ongoing, and consistent success requires understanding consumer needs and desires and using insights to predict what they will want next.
Data-driven marketing focuses on understanding every aspect of the target customer and customer experience based on data collection of customer segments and profiles. Analytics tools enable marketers to precisely understand different customer “personas,” or proxies for real individuals, so that they can connect and engage naturally. Analytics point the way toward how, when and where consumers want to learn about products so that marketers can reach customers with the right messages via the proper channels at the correct times. Ultimately, the advantages of data-driven marketing include cost-effective customer acquisition and retention, higher customer satisfaction scores and even viral influence.
2. Improve the Customer Experience With Consumer Behavior Analysis
Data collection in conjunction with online technologies enables consumer behavior analysis. Consumers do not want to see irrelevant messaging from unfamiliar brands, and they do not wish to have impersonal, generic interactions with brands they know. Data reveals the information marketers need to meet these expectations with resonant messaging and online experiences personalized to consumers’ unique needs.
For example, marketers can personalize an email campaign from a pet food store with the pet owner’s name, pet and items from prior purchases and online behaviors. When a customer visits the pet food website, the page presents personal information related to the pet’s dietary and health needs. Data collection, data-driven insights and personalization provide value by solving known problems and anticipating upcoming needs.
Behavioral analysis, though, is much more sophisticated than simply learning about buying behaviors. Through continuous tracking of online behavioral data, marketers discover how consumers are affected by their choices. For example, digital marketers can learn how video or color combinations in images affect consumer responses. They can learn how to stimulate audiences to share information socially and virally. They can learn how to effectively sequence informational content in order to drive faster conversions. Saavy digital marketers accumulate knowledge efficiently by testing smaller segments and applying what works to larger segments.
3. Expand Reach and Enhance Engagement With Social Media & Content Marketing
Content marketing uses data to strategically create and distribute compelling content to attract and maintain a following through multiple digital channels. Effective content marketing is driven by understanding what the audience cares about and how individuals make purchasing decisions. In conjunction with search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing aims to guide potential customers’ search queries with responses that meet searchers’ needs.
For example, a homeowner with an unreliable HVAC system might search for “when to replace HVAC system Orlando.” Savvy HVAC companies in the area will have blog posts and online content that address this very question and may also invest in pay-per-click (PPC) ads to drive targeted consumers to their online resources.
Content marketing pairs well with social media marketing. Digital marketers can leverage their social media platforms to promote content, such as a blog post or YouTube video about when to replace an HVAC system that Facebook (through paid and organic search) will display to Orlando homeowners. Marketers can develop tweets using hashtags such as #NewACSystem or #OrlandoHVAC that pop up on target buyers’ feeds. Companies can use one video across channels to engage prospects and drive them to take action, such as requesting a free service call online or tagging friends and neighbors who may also be interested in a free service call. Leveraging content and social media together provides value to organizations beyond marketing: it also supplements the sales and customer service functions.
If you are fascinated by the marketing frontiers we are beginning to explore in the 21st century and want to grow your career in this new ground, earning a marketing-focused MBA degree may be your key to unlocking a future in digital marketing.