Your brand in a digital world – more useful, more relevant?


Imagine you are going for a weekend away…you’ve Googled how to get there and what to do, you’ve Uber’d a car to the airport and you’re Airbnb-ing it.

Nothing unusual here. Except three brands – Google, Uber and Airbnb – have been verbified and can now be used as the action itself. They are the catch-alls for search, transport and accommodation.

Radical rethink

When disruption and digital transformation occur on an industrial scale, verbifying the brand names makes these innovations more than just the actual product or service.

These brands often define the market and become the generic term associated with it. As such, there brands have great responsibilities, and negative experiences impact not only the brand, but the sector itself.

Not all brands can become verbs, in fact, many may not aspire to do so. Their focus is on delivering outstanding service and experiences. But is that enough in the digital age? Today, consumers have short attention spans, multiple options and limited loyalty. And this leads to a radical rethink from a marketing and branding perspective.

Strong engagement

You may be familiar with the idea of ‘omnichannel’ retail, when you can get what you want, when you want it – in-store, on-line, mobile, delivered, picked-up – whatever best meets your needs at the time.

Marketers need to reconsider their marketing efforts in the same way. An uninvited email or unsolicited call is no longer effective. Brands need strong engagement across search, social, mobile and more to ensure they raise above the noise and competition.

More importantly, brands need to personalise their messages to make them work in the digital marketplace. But personalisation isn’t always enough. More and more it is timing and relevance that will make your messages hit home.

Traditionalists may say that personalisation, timing and relevance are secondary to driving brand  awareness through above-the-line advertising to cut through the noise. I couldn’t disagree more!

Targeted ads

These new approaches aren’t just nice ideas.

They are demonstrably effective.

During the 2017 US Presidential Election campaign, work conducted by Cambridge Analytica for the Cruz and Trump campaigns addressed voters’ hopes and fears, and  even inspired apathy to dissuade voting, by sending hyper-personalised messages to voters in key states. This revitalised the campaigns of both candidates and contributed to Trump winning the White House. Arguably the biggest prize from a marketing and positioning perspective ever.

Consumers today expect brands to understand their needs and wants.

They see so-called “targeted ads”, such as those that follow you around online even after you have bought the product, as irrelevant, pointless and, most of all, annoying.

This can damage your brand, and waste your money. It shows that some brands have their hands on the right tools and the right data, but the wrong approach.

Imagine a consumer going regularly to the same shop at the same time every weekend to buy groceries. What if that consumer comes at a different time? Say a middle of the night trip to fill that prescription? A poorly-considered algorithm might misinterpret this as another shopping trip – offering vouchers and offers for those regularly purchased provisions, or offer alternates to promote other brands. But the timing of the shopping trip is important.

The shopper could be unwell, and special offers for milk won’t be helpful on that trip. Making too many assumptions about consumers, their behaviors and motives can be dangerous.

Variety of channels

This doesn’t need to be the case.

According to research conducted by Stanford University in 2015,  Facebook likes are enormously revealing.

Researchers found that by analysing just 10 likes, a computer could more accurately predict the subject’s personality than one of their work colleagues, with 70 likes the computer has more insight than a friend or a roommate;  a family member with 150; and with just 300 likes the computer knows you better than your spouse.

The data exists across a variety of channels to make accurate, informed marketing decisions. Brands and their agencies should be looking at their customers’ digital footprints and finding those insights, transforming your brand from something useful to something essential.

Targeted and relevant

Increasingly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing will do much of the heavy lifting to help brands find the right customer, at the right time and ensure the message is accurately targeted and relevant.

If customers are to trust your brand, and accept that the data they leave behind is put to good use, then marketing needs to be useful. Companies and brands need to use digital footprints to give consumers a more engaging, less obtrusive experience. Not the opposite.

Adam Howatson | Chief Marketing Officer | OpenText | | |



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