People are spending more time online than ever before, where they’ve got all the information and tools they could possibly need right at their fingertips.
At first glance, this growth in the online presence of consumers may seem like a positive development for digital marketers, giving them unprecedented access to their audiences and presenting them with opportunities to expand to new markets. However, all of this doesn’t come without a price.
Today’s consumers are faced with constant pressure to use their time wisely – along with an overwhelming influx of ads and information from which to choose – and as a result, they’re actually becoming harder to reach.
In a nutshell, modern digital consumers are more likely to pay attention to content that meets at least one of these two requirements:
- It offers something in which the consumer was already interested and had some intention of buying or pursuing.
- It is presented in such a compelling way that the consumer is persuaded to give up a few minutes to learn more.
While these criteria may seem straightforward, they present challenges far beyond whether you’re able to create good content.
For the first requirement, you must have a deep understanding of your audience, right down to the specific likes and interests of each individual customer, so you can target them with exactly what they want to see.
For the second, you need to identify which formats and platforms are most effective for communicating your message to your audience. That is to say that your content – no matter how rich it might be – won’t do you any good if people aren’t even stopping to look at it.
So what’s the solution?
Luckily, it just so happens that the answer to these challenges (and many more) lies in a place where people are already spending a majority of their time – social media.
Social media provides you with important details on the interests and preferences of your customers, so you can market to them on a more personal level. Moreover, if you use social media itself as a main channel for communicating your message, you not only increase the visibility of your brand among your immediate leads and prospects, but you also give your audience many options for interacting with your content – including sharing it with their friends and followers.
The effectiveness of social media as a means for quickly sharing information on a mass scale has caught on with many groups and businesses – including traditional news outlets themselves. A number of big-name publishers (like The New York Times and BBC News) have begun working to create social-based alternatives for readers to access their stories more easily.
Social media has also become a popular forum for organizing political and ideological movements. Political groups and candidates are increasingly turning to platforms like Facebook and Twitter to exchange information and connect with their audiences.
But what does all of this mean for marketers?
It has become virtually impossible to maximize your reach without the aid of social media platforms. While marketing has traditionally been based on “spray-and-pray” tactics, social media has begun to change it into a dynamic, two-way street, where businesses can engage in a direct conversation with their audiences.
With social media, you can see exactly what customers are saying (as they’re saying it) and then respond immediately—whether that means modifying a product, providing additional information, mitigating the damage of negative feedback, or even thanking customers for their input.
Furthermore, social media offers endless opportunities for you to syndicate content and grow your brand recognition. When used effectively, it not only can increase your visibility among prospects and leads, but also can make you more familiar and recognizable to existing customers – which can in turn lead to higher brand loyalty and conversion rates.
Shaping Your Message
One of the most important steps to attracting and retaining customers is to provide them with a message that really speaks to them. Whether you’re promoting your product to an entirely new audience or simply trying to keep your existing customers interested, your content is your strongest asset.
According to 80% of agencies, creating compelling content is the most effective tactic for successful social media marketing. But most of those agencies also say that creating compelling content is the hardest tactic to execute.
On a daily basis, people are bombarded with more newsflashes, ads and videos than they have time for, so they develop ways to sift through it all, only stopping for the stuff that really grabs them. It therefore comes as no surprise that one of the most challenging obstacles for businesses is to create content compelling enough to beat the competition and catch people’s eyes.
Knowing your audience is key to creating great content.
Marketing to your customers without a clear understanding of what they’re interested in is like taking a shot in the dark. More than ever, people expect products and services to address their own specific needs, and that doesn’t change when it comes to advertising. If a consumer does not immediately feel like your content is worth their time (this is assuming they even noticed it in the first place), they’ll be quick to disregard it.
Increasingly, businesses are using behavioral data to “get to know” their leads and customers on a more personal level, and many have found that social media is one of the most reliable sources for collecting data that’s accurate and up to date.
With effective social media marketing, you can gather relevant details from your leads’ online profiles (and even follow their social activity to see what they most frequently like or share), and then use that information to develop highly personalized, targeted messaging that will improve your chances of catching their attention.
The Missing Puzzle Piece: Marketing Automation
When it comes to personalizing your content, social media can give you some of the information you need. Yet sometimes it’s not enough just to have a prospect’s name, her hometown, and a list of her favorite songs and movies.
This is where marketing automation comes in.
By combining the information you already have on your leads and customers with the insights you get from tracking their online activities, you can take content personalization to a whole new level. Marketing automation allows you to track how people are interacting with your content (e.g., liking it, sharing it with their friends, clicking through on your calls to action), giving you the visibility you need to identify what’s working and what’s not.
Marketing automation makes it easier to attribute revenue to your social media campaigns by monitoring exactly what people are doing after they come across your content.
For example, if someone sees a Facebook post about a product you offer and ultimately visits your site to make a purchase, you can attribute the revenue from that purchase to your Facebook marketing campaign.
You can even take things a step further with marketing automation by setting up workflows to keep leads engaged once they’ve shown interest. If you see that someone has liked or shared a post about your product but hasn’t visited your site, you can reach out to him with an email nudging him to check out a particular product or service. If he decides to click through at that point and make a purchase, you can then attribute that revenue to the Facebook post that initially triggered the workflow.
Marketing automation gives you the hard numbers you need to back your efforts, so that when your client calls, you can attribute a clear revenue stream to your social media campaigns and demand your fair share in the company budget.
Where Are We Headed Next?
According to 77% of agencies, the effectiveness of social media is increasing.
The world seems to be headed firmly in the direction of growing more and more dependent on social media—and it’s hard to imagine ever going back. While that may present some new challenges for marketers, it also opens up a whole new range of opportunities for engaging with people in more personalized ways.
Social media provides you with valuable insights on the behaviors and interests of your customers, so you can tailor your content to fit their exact needs. And as the number and variety of social media platforms continue to grow, there are countless new ways to syndicate your content to maximize viewership and engagement.
The more personal you can get with your marketing, and the more visibility you can get out of each piece of content, the more luck you’ll have in beating out the competition and winning over a few minutes of someone’s time.
Choosing a Marketing Automation Platform?
SharpSpring is an affordable, rapidly growing marketing automation provider that is trusted by thousands of businesses around the world. Known for its innovation, open architecture and free customer support, SharpSpring offers flexible monthly contracts at a fraction of the price of competitors, making it an easy choice for growing businesses and digital marketing agencies. Learn more about SharpSpring’s partnership with PromoRepublic today.
About the Author:
As a copywriter at SharpSpring, Isabel works with the marketing team to compose and edit resources on a variety of topics. With a focus on the value of marketing automation, she creates case studies, white papers, blog articles and more that address numerous aspects of digital marketing.