The Yin and Yang of Digital Marketing
Today, content marketing and relationships with influencers form a winning combination. They’re an inseparable pair for businesses and organizations. The relevance of the content allows brands to stand out on social networks. The quality of the relationship with influencers favors a better distribution and message reception with targeted clientele. There’s a natural correlation between the two; without relevant content that is valid for users influencer marketing is only a new form of advertising placement. This is the ¨Yin¨ and ¨Yang¨ of digital marketing; now called confluence marketing.
The growing influence of connected consumers
The massive use of web and social media apps and technologies has completely transformed the relationship between brands and their clienteles. Users from one generation to the next (who are also potential consumers) now have virtually unlimited access to information, as well as a variety of content production and dissemination tools. This changes their consumption habits accordingly.
Today, consumers are often better informed than salespeople or brand reps. Before buying, they conduct research, find and evaluate the best options, and compare recommendations, conditions, prices, and warranties. If they’re not satisfied, they’ll opt for a competitor’s product or service, no matter where it’s located. And now, thanks to the web and social media, these connected consumers create and distribute their own content and take advantage of their network reach to influence their community. This further increases their power over brands and organizations.
In this context, users/consumers become real “prosumers”. They now take an active role at each stage of the purchasing journey and reveal themselves to be potential influencers. They demand to be heard and listened to, and that the persons responsible, meet their expectations.
In fact, this new concept of confluence marketing refers to a presentation by Traackr on SlideShare: ¨Confluence – The Intersection Of Content & Influencer Marketing¨. In psychology, we put aside our personal concerns to focus on another concern, a particular group or situation. It’s a natural defense mechanism, which occurs when we face a crisis or an upheaval. In computer science, it’s also a system of rewriting convergent technologies and cognitive sciences that aim to improve the user experience.
In digital marketing, this is when content marketing and influencers meet and are oriented towards the expectations of connected consumers. As at the confluence of a river, it’s the currents of different thought and the convergence of the multiple channels of social platforms, which reach the clienteles.
The new purchasing journey for connected consumers
Today, the process of acquiring connected consumers is complex and involves several iterations that brands have to modify, as Brian Solis points out in an article published on MyCustomer.com: “Why Customer Journey Mapping Must Evolve Into Experience Design“. For companies, this means different departments need to collaborate to respond effectively to the 5 stages of the new consumer journey.
In his post, the chief analyst of the Altimeter Group, emphasizes that with the current position of connected consumers, the customer experience wins. To fully understand the impact of each iteration of the new consumer purchasing process, we must analyze the sale (digital and physical) and behavior of the social partnerships on all the platforms. Solis describes the new journey of connected consumers in 5 parts:
- Problem/Need: At first, the consumer encounters a problem (or not) with a product (or service) they use, and feel the need to get a new one. They read articles on the subject and look for different options.
- Research/Selection: After conducting an online search and consulting the published reviews, the consumer will go to the store and ask for information. They will often go online and chat.
- Purchase/Reception: If the customer is satisfied with their research, the consumer will order online especially if they find offers or promotions. With an email confirmation and on time delivery, the customer is satisfied.
- Use/Satisfaction: If the consumer, after reading the instruction manual and asking the community for advice is not completely satisfied they’ll return to the shop. If they haven’t received satisfactory answers they’ll require the problem be definitively resolved.
- Retention / Recommendation: On the other hand, if they’re satisfied in all other areas. It will renew their confidence and they’ll buy again. They’ll often become a loyal ambassador on social media.
For marketers, it’s essential to properly assimilate and integrate the motivations of different generations. Each of the generations interacts differently and uses social media for different reasons. But, the purchasing process remains the same from one generation to the next, and ultimately meets the same expectations.
Today, the value and quality of the user-consumer experience counts during every step of the way, as Brian Solis points out. And, content and influencer marketing strategies need to focus on these expectations. The quality of the customer experience must become a brand’s priority for every interaction on social networks.
According to Forrester’s latest US Digital Marketing Forecast, the investment in digital marketing is expected to reach nearly $120 billion US by 2020. Over the next 5 years, budgets for confluence marketing strategies will need to shift towards projects aimed at improving the quality of the brand experience, experiential activities and interactive programs with clients. Artificial intelligence and augmented reality, geolocation and data analysis, the Internet of objects, 360-degree video and 3D printing are new innovations which will help improve and increase the quality of user experience.
What do you think? Do you believe that the customer experience and the shopping path of connected consumers will become priorities in social marketing strategies? Share your opinion, and comment on this article.