CEO and co-founder of conversational marketing automation platform Spectrm.
The marketing landscape is noisy. Traditional social, email and display marketing channels are in decline, making it difficult to stand out. It’s hard to stay ahead of customers’ changing preferences for engagement. And if you can catch a customer’s attention, how do you provide something different that will make them want to engage with and buy from you?
At Spectrm, we saw over 30 million conversations happen. But despite what we already know, we wanted to learn more about the current successes and struggles of marketers today. In a survey of 400 B2C marketers for our State of B2C Conversational Marketing report, we learned that marketers are finding their traditional channels in decline due to oversaturation, privacy restrictions and changing customers behaviors—but they’re finding success through new channels.
Declining channels and privacy challenges call for new approaches.
Many people are no longer finding success in the ways they once had. It’s getting hard to stand out in busy news feeds and cluttered inboxes these days, and marketers are feeling the pressure. People are seeing their digital marketing channels decline, with the biggest decline in social media. Other top channels in decline include influencer marketing, email marketing and SMS marketing.
It’s not just gaining an audience’s attention on various channels that is challenging. The increase in customer concerns around data collection and privacy has led to the recent rise in regulations like GDPR and CCPA, operating system privacy updates like iOS 14 and third-party cookie-blocking browsers. This all limits the amount and type of information that can be collected about customers. Six out of 10 marketers say these regulations are decreasing the effectiveness of their marketing tactics and forcing them to find new ways to learn about their customers.
Overall, marketers today are finding it more difficult to engage and convert new customers because of these declining channels and data collection restrictions. Challenges to attribution also make it hard to know if efforts are even working. Marketers say retaining existing customers and generating more sales from them is becoming more challenging as well.
It’s getting harder to catch the attention of customers scrolling through busy news feeds and posts. That’s not to say that marketers shouldn’t use these channels. They simply need to find new ways to get the most value from them.
Continue business as usual.
One way to increase engagement with customers is to continue business as usual and make tweaks and updates to your current approaches. This includes continuing website traffic campaigns on social media, search, email and display. However, invest engineering resources to create better mobile website experiences so customers can find what they need more easily. Additionally, set up first-party cookies and design server-side tagging solutions to mitigate the impact of data restrictions on tracking and attribution.
Consider new approaches.
Of the time people spend on mobile devices each day, 44% is spent on messaging apps or social media. If customers are on their phones every day looking for new brands and having conversations with their friends and family, why not have conversations with them, too? Using conversational marketing is another approach that marketers can consider when looking at new ways to interact with customers.
Invite customers into an exchange through the messaging features on the apps they use every day, and serve them questions to help guide them to the products or services they’re looking for. This approach provides a solution to rising data regulations and privacy concerns, as it collects information directly from your customer. Collecting the information they provide to you can not only help you learn more about them but can also help you personalize offerings for them in the future and better train your AI for more intuitive interactions.
To begin transitioning toward an approach like this, start by first identifying your use cases, like commerce or lead generation. Then, choose the right messaging channels for your use cases and your audience, and identify the right entry points for each one. Next, create a chatbot that has personality, and use conversational AI to ensure that it continues to learn as it interacts with your audience. Finally, continue to iterate and optimize your conversational funnel and AI as you expand to new channels and markets.
Invest in personalization.
Finally, because customers are looking for personalized experiences with brands today, another approach is to invest in website personalization tools and alternative data sources to better identify users and serve them personalized experiences. Marketers can leverage post-purchase surveys to find out how people learn about your brand as well, and you can build your attribution reporting from this type of direct feedback.
Putting It All Together
For marketers today, the challenges out there are many: declining channels, increased data regulations, changing customer preferences and more. But the opportunity to overcome those challenges is out there, too.
Marketers looking for new approaches to engage customers should go to where their customers are and to the platforms they’re using each day, like messaging apps. Marketers, too, need to think about ways to personalize their offerings to their customers, instead of simply blanketing the internet with personal ads. Consider privacy-first methods as well when considering which channels to use to engage with customers. Overall, if the old ways are no longer effective, think creatively and strategically about new ways to connect with your customers.