The customer obsession mantra has been the tune of 2016 in marketing. Focus on your customers’ needs. Pull not push. Invest in getting to know your audience (because there’s a good chance you have no idea who they are). It’s all been great fun. The recurring theme in all of this of course has been data – collect as much data as you can from as many different avenues as possible. The more concrete insights you can gather about your audience, the more likely it is that your content will engage, possibly even convert.
The problem is, your competitors are just as savvy as you are. They too understand that a data-driven content can lead to higher reach, engagement and conversions for a content campaign. And in the noisy space of social, optimizing for campaign KPIs can only get you so far. As many as 62% of US online adults actively avoid ads in any channel.1
Social media users today are easily distracted, they tend to tune out when marketers turn up the volume, and they respond readily to real-time interactions – even if those interactions are coming from your competitors. So how can you adopt a more sophisticated approach to social media optimization that can ensure more lasting relationships with your customers?
Campaigns are so 2016. This new year, marketers should be thinking more in terms of interactions. Optimizing your content for campaign KPIs will only get you so far. To stand out, you need to optimize content for moments of interaction with your customers.
So what does that mean?
Create for interactions
The first step is to design your content strategy as a means to deliver to moments within your customer’s journey through social media. Think about all of your social content as the substance of a meaningful experience with your prospects, not as a cog in the push-marketing machine. Instead of creating content for the purpose of conversion, create it with the wider context of the customer journey in mind.
A link campaign shouldn’t just be pushed out to an audience with the right demographic interests, it should be pushed to an audience who are at the optimal point in their journey to be receptive to that link. This type of thinking leads to a meaningful interaction, rather than simple push marketing designed to keep your brand top of mind.
Expanding your touchpoints
To deliver content in this framework requires both a realistic understanding of your customer’s journey, and contextual insight around each individual. It’s no good sending out a link campaign to an audience pool that have never engaged with your brand before.
Accurately mapping your customer journey is essential for interaction-based optimization. The modern customer journey is fragmented, with so many communication channels and social networks out there, it can be difficult to know where exactly your customers are coming from, and how warm they are to your brand.
To overcome this challenge, brands should begin by expanding their pool of possible touchpoints. Use a social listening tool to tap into conversations outside your existing comms channels, and find new opportunities to build brand touchpoints. The more potential interactions you can build, the more data streams you’ll have, and your customer journey map will be far more accurate as a result.
Connect your data
The next step is to make all your customer data streams speak to each other. Most brands keep their customer data sources locked in disparate systems that are difficult or expensive to connect. What’s more, it can be difficult for marketing departments to make data connectivity a priority within the organization – but unifying your customers’ data story is crucial.
For example, insights from your community management activities could be used as the basis for a retargeting campaign. Imagine you have a lot of social followers posting comments about an upcoming product release – this group could make the perfect audience for an ad campaign once the product is launched, one that will deliver much higher conversion than simply targeting by interests.
Investing in the right social data platform can make this process much more simple than trying to integrate a stack of individual technology vendors. Find a platform that gives you visibility into as many touchpoints on social as possible. This will ensure that you can easily access contextual insight around an individual or audience cluster to identify exactly where they are positioned within their journey.
Optimizing your social content strategy means going beyond campaign KPIs. With the customer journey becoming more complex, brands need to be doing more than simply posting more content or buying more ads. Why? Expanding your brand’s potential for customer engagement by creating more touchpoints will drive huge growth in your volume of customer data.
You can collect insights on everything from transactional, to behavioral to emotional. Removing the silos from your data streams will enable you to use these data insights to deliver contextually relevant experiences, rather than just content designed for conversions. This will not only give you a clear competitive advantage, but it will help you use social as a medium for building lasting relationships.
1 ‘Continually Optimize Experiences to Differentiate and Compete for Customers’, Forrester, October, 2016