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Four ways to future-proof your marketing

Finding ways to thrive in times of change

Every week there’s a new development that affects the marketing world. This week we’ve heard from Marketing week that Brexit uncertainty is putting a stop to growth in Marketing budgets, at the same time as Amazon has enabled dynamic bidding for sponsored products ads. This suggests that businesses are still spending their advertising budgets for the foreseeable future.

Change is constant, and technology’s accelerating at a rapid rate, so we need to do everything we can to future-proof our marketing activity. Here are four top tips to help you.

Predict your customer’s next move

value

Use all the data you can find to help you understand how your customers behave and use this to predict what your future customers will do. Look at past purchase behaviour to understand what they buy and when they buy it, to give you a good understanding of when they’re likely to buy next.

Asda’s online shopping app knows how many times a customer shops each month and how often they buy peanut butter and toothpaste. When a shopper is nearly due to replenish their toothpaste and hasn’t put any in their basket, the app will politely ask them if they’ve forgotten to buy it.

You can install heatmaps to understand when your customers are hovering and clicking on your website’s pages, and Google Analytics’ lesser known behaviour flow function to see exactly where customers are dropping off on their journey through your site.

Pull your data together to build a strong picture of your customer, to help you see how they’re thinking, to understand what turns them off, and take steps to guide them to make that all-important purchase.

Treat mobile as essential

Mobile friendly websites

Last year Google started rolling out mobile-first indexing, meaning it uses the mobile version of a site to index its pages and decide how to rank them. The point of this is to help the growing crowd of mobile users to find what they’re looking for, by prioritising mobile over desktop. This is understandable considering that 52% of the world’s web traffic is now coming from users on mobile.

It’s no longer good enough to have a desktop site that converts well to mobile – your site should be designed as mobile-first. It should be as easy to see and follow a call to action on mobile as on a desktop, and load speed should be minimal. Three seconds is now considered a long time to wait for a site to load.

Promote your purpose

Promoting purpose through marketing

There’s been a real focus on purpose for brands over the past year. Supermarket support for Veganuary has been incredible, and The Body Shop is still going strong after all these years and outlived its beloved founder Anita Roddick thanks to standing by its core purpose to avoid testing on animals.

Nielsen survey reported that 92% of consumers are more likely to trust information about a brand when it comes from one of their peers rather than from paid advertising. This is why low-level influencer marketing can bring such a high return on investment, because people don’t trust the big celebrities as much as they respect the less famous people online that they connect with and feel are part of their tribe.

Brand purpose has to be carefully formulated, and must be lived, not just spoken. Starbucks promoted a strong purpose to enrich the lives of its customers, whilst avoiding paying taxes, which was not well received. Lush misjudged their undercover police campaign and ended up with many previously loyal customers boycotting their stores.

The key to success is careful consideration, collaboration with supporters and a purpose based on genuine passion.

Go old school

Marketing journal for marketing consultant

The rapid growth of technology has left many people reminiscing about traditional forms of communication. Instagram’s #bulletjournal hashtag has 50 million followers, celebrating old-fashioned journaling and beautiful stationery. Letter-writing and writing to pen pals is being resurrected amongst secondary school pupils, and Amazon distributed an actual toy catalogue pre-Christmas. If Amazon is moving towards print promotion then we should be taking notice.

Next are excellent with their traditional direct marketing. Customers don’t ask for a catalogue, but they receive a small one at the start of every season. It just shows snippets from the new collections, and has something for everyone in the household, so it accidentally becomes a coffee table item to flick through. This physical reminder, alongside the company’s easy online ordering process and next-day delivery, drives time-poor people who didn’t know they needed new clothes or homeware to pick up their phones and order something for the weekend.

This return to traditional tactics reminds us that there’s still a place for offline marketing, and reassures us that there are many opportunities to engage with past, present and potential customers through a variety of channels. We can chase and master the new, but it’s okay to embrace the old faithfuls too.

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Rachel King is a marketer with 18 years of experience. She consults on a freelance basis, working with clients across the globe. Rachel’s approach is honest, open and jargon-free, helping customers to understand what they need and focus on activities that will generate the best return on investment. Find out more at www.rachelking.co.uk

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