The way that most brands measure their investment returns from marketing and advertising is still largely based on traditional media thinking, and it is falling out of step with the demands of a new era of digital media and empowered customers.
Tried and tested measures of sales conversions and brand awareness are not always aligned with the new needs of a world where consumers are informed, tech-savvy, and have high expectations for personalised engagement from brands.
Through their use of social media and their interactions with digital giants such as Amazon and Uber, South African consumers have learnt that they have a voice and that they are entitled to more personalised brand experiences. Old measures of marketing success such as frequency, reach, and brand awareness don’t tell us enough about how well we’re doing in building customer relationships.
Driven by emotions
Diamond says that today’s consumer cares as much about the customer experience as he or she cares about brand, price, and quality. Customer experience encompasses not only the value and worth of the product or service, but also how the consumer feels overall about his or her interactions with the brand.
We’re looking at something quite subjective here — how we appeal to the consumers’ emotions. The question for every marketer today is how do we address the consumer’s needs, wants, and feelings so that we can drive profitable engagement with the brand.
When looking at advertising, marketers today have the benefit of a wealth of demographic and behavioural data from digital channels to help them create emotionally engaging experiences, she adds. The data can tell marketers who consumers are, what they’re doing, and what they are looking for.
The role of creativity
It is then up to the creative team to use this data to create messages and campaigns that will resonate with consumers. Armed with the right information, marketers now also have the ability to engage with customers with refined and more personalised messaging across targeted channels, says Diamond.
Data from digital channels such as social media, mobile and display are especially powerful when it is combined with the reach of conventional mass media. Many people still have a close relationship with regional radio, for example, and it remains a deeply engaging channel.
By supporting radio with digital channels, brands can extend the consumer experience, build further engagement and get more insight into the success of their customer engagement strategies, says Diamond. Real-world activations are another way to build engagement.
Engagement is hard to measure, says Diamond, but some ways that companies could benchmark it, include the following:
- Use of market research tools such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS)
- Tracking the frequency and session length of consumers’ interactions with the brand using its apps and website
- Sentiment, activity and advocacy on social media
- Customer churn and retention
- Trends in the customer’s use of the company’s products and services
As marketers, we need to think about customers rather than channels as we build our campaigns. The question isn’t how just to get the best reach and frequency, but how to use a combination of channels to engage with consumers effectively and creating memorable experiences. This is where marketers will find their returns.