How Brands Can Stay Relevant In an AI Machine Learning World
Before we can develop solutions to stay relevant in the consumer’s mind, we need to know what we, as marketers and brands, are up against and better understand what AI and machine learning brings. So let’s start at the end and work backwards…
Keep Your Friends Close and Your “Enemies” Closer
A lot of people are objecting to Facebook’s data sharing and keeping tabs on our activity. Well, I’ve got some bad news for you … this has been going on for a while and not just Facebook; Google does it, LinkedIn does it, cookies from websites gather information on you & your activity while you’re on that website. It’s really not fair to single out Facebook, but people are looking for someone to blame so this will change how data is collected on us, but it won’t go away – we marketers and advertisers need this information.
As consumers navigate across the internet, they leave behind millions of signals about their intent, context, and identity. Machine learning is an effective way to process complex data and surface insights that matter to marketers.
As marketers, we need to constantly be learning new skills and using the new technology & tools to evolve and stay ahead and adapt to take advantage of new opportunities to get our message in front of our target audience. But these innovations only lead us closer to one thing as we battle for consumer attention: assistance. Message bots, cookies, pixels, and other automation forces us to build more relevant, assistive brands.
Consumers are always on mobile devices looking for the information they need right now (instant gratification); there are no off hours. The most successful brands will be able to capitalize on this with an emotion, belief, or value that resonates with audiences on a personal level.
Make It Personal
If you try to market your product or service to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. Your message will be too broad & generic, and no one will feel that they “need” you. That’s where creating marketing personas can help!
Creating a marketing persona for your target audience forces you to think more like a person and not a brand, and this is a good thing! People do not like to be sold to; they want to do business with other people who care about the same things they do. Brands need to change the way they advertise and market if they want to see those conversions and increase in sales!
What is a marketing persona and where do I start?
A persona is a fictional representation of a particular group in your target audience, and your brand may have a few personas that make up your target audience. Personas help businesses figure out how to tailor their message, offers, etc. and show it at just the right time and place to reach the right people on a personal level.
Start by thinking of who your target audience is – perhaps it is soccer moms. Create some questions you can ask these soccer moms to learn more about them. Some good questions to ask are:
- What is your typical day like?
- What are your attitudes about life?
- What are some things you just can’t live without?
- How do you go about solving a problem? Do you search the internet – mobile or desktop? Do you ask your friends or family? Do you ask your social media friends? Or prefer to make phone calls to several places until you find what you’re looking for?
Once you have several answers, start looking for similar answers and group them together; you’ll quickly discover a pattern that you can use in your targeting. It’s ok to fill in the blanks to fill out your marketing persona.
Finally, create a start-to-finish buying process for your persona that details the process (who/what/where/when/why) your persona takes to discover their need, learn about their options and choices, where do they go for that information, and how they decide to purchase something. Now you know who your target audience is on a very personal level and can create that personal, relevant experience everyone is looking for today.
Create a Personalized Experience For Your Audience Personas
Knowing your audience is important and necessary, but brands/marketers must also know what their audience is looking for and why. Those that provide the solution and present it in the proper context will be the most relevant in the customer’s mind. Go beyond demographics and craft your content/image/message to fit the solution to their problems and why they need you. If you do this, you’ll be in the forefront of their mind when they need you – customers typically have 20% higher ad recall and 50% higher brand awareness to those who just use demographics.
Marketing has become THE experience – this includes social media, your website, and any ads you purchase; it’s the entire customer buying process: discovery/awareness of what they need/want, searching for that information, evaluate their options, making purchase, and the post purchase feeling – do they have buyer’s regret or are they happy with the purchase.
Take your new marketing personas and create a message and experience that your personas cannot live without. Brand relevance cannot just be “nice to have” – it needs to have an imperative feeling that they need your product or service.
The customer experience is much more than just your brand’s message and the creatives you create to appeal to their needs – it’s absolutely about the excellent customer service you provide on social media. Do you monitor your social media pages for comments and questions? How often do you do this and how quickly are you able to answer those questions? Do you answer in one word, or are you polite and friendly – even if they are not?
Consumers are 86% more likely to reach out to a business on social media before they visit your website or pick up the phone to call you, AND they expect a response within a couple of hours. Are you meeting those expectations? If not, what can you do to better improve your customer service? Perhaps you can set up an auto-responder on FB messenger, or have a qualified, responsible staff member check on customer comments.
Social media marketing is all about customer service and assisting your customers, improving their experience with your brand online. Sure, you can occasionally promote your products and services, but that’s not what social media marketing is all about today.
Brands can make or break the actual relationship through the marketing experience. If you’re not there providing personalized solutions and assisting them on social media in a timely, friendly way, you will not be able to convert people from being an online follower to a real customer.
How brands are evolving and adapting to meet consumers’ rising expectations for relevant and assistive experiences will determine their success on social media.
Brands should change their mindset and attitude towards social media from being “how can I get more clients” to instead be focused on “how can we best assist our customers to provide solutions for their needs on social media”.
One way to do that is to use creative storytelling techniques that quickly capture & draw in audiences. (See my previous blog post “How To Effectively Tell Your Brand’s Story On Social Media”). It’s a simple and effective way to appeal to their needs – but don’t forget to make it personal for your new marketing personas!
And remember… People like to do business with people, so put yourself in their shoes and stop thinking like a business!