Why your in-house marketing team isn’t cutting it (and a new playbook to follow)
As in-house marketing agencies have become the norm rather than the exception, the consumers they’re targeting have been undergoing some major changes.
Instead of following a straightforward purchase journey, they move forward, backward and even sideways on their way from point A to point B. They align themselves with brands as a way to express their own values, not just because a product or service simply meets their needs or appeals to them.
And their expectations have grown immensely: Rather than being content with a quality product, today’s consumers want a quality product, total brand authenticity and a personalized experience.
These are what we call "connected consumers," and any brand that wants to succeed in the digital age must know how to reach and engage them. The problem is not all in-house marketing agencies have the know-how to do so, primarily because the connected consumer is a study in paradoxes.
The good news? According to the data compiled in our proprietary research report, “Marketing to Gods: The Definitive Guide to Reaching, Engaging, and Retaining the Modern, Empowered Consumer,” those paradoxes produce hidden gaps that can be hacked, provided your in-house team can identify them in the first place and can apply the requisite insights and tools.
But this is easier said than done and amounts to nothing less than adopting a new marketing model -- a model that can cut through complexity and outsmart simplicity. In other words, you’re going to need a whole new playbook.
To get started, here are two winning plays to empower your in-house marketing team to hack those hidden gaps and deeply connect with the connected consumer.
The Personalization Gap
One of the first gaps we discerned in our discussions with connected consumers was that of personalization.
While it’s no surprise that connected consumers want personalized content -- after all, that’s the direction things have been going for years now -- what perhaps isn’t as well-known is the degree to which consumers want their content personalized to their precise needs.
The survey respondents we spoke with reported creating complicated spreadsheets to catalog and categorize prospective purchases by cost, color, specs, shipping price, review rating and more. They subconsciously filled this gap themselves, even if they weren’t aware that’s what they were doing. If your brand can fill this gap before connected consumers do, you’ll be able to give them exactly what they want before they’re even aware something is missing.
The best way to do this, of course, is to conduct a user experience (UX) study or survey so you can ask the people who use your site where they see a lack of personalization or where they’d like to see more.
If that’s not possible, however, you can start by combing through your site to see where you can help users pull the customized content they're looking for, rather than simply pushing content to them.
The Authenticity Gap
Influencer marketing is inescapable these days, even in the business-to-business (B2B) realm where it formerly seemed inapplicable.
For connected consumers, authenticity is absolutely critical. In fact, a study by Rakuten Marketing found that 83 percent of people find online advertising to be disruptive, with some even going so far as to associate it with fake news.
Influencer marketing was the solution to this for a time, but now connected consumers are becoming more discriminating, which means endorsements by some of the bigger or celebrity influencers aren’t nearly as powerful as they used to be and can even backfire.
One solution to this is for your in-house team to seek out partnerships with micro-influencers -- influencers with a smaller reach, but a much more focused, niche audience. The power of these gurus should not be underestimated. In today’s super-saturated digital world, “micro” does not necessarily mean insignificant.
Another option is to make it easier for your customers to peruse online reviews of your brand since, according to our research, online reviews are a leading source of consumer trust. If consumers can’t write reviews of your product or service on your site, now is the time to fix that. You can also link out to Google reviews or other sites where reviews of your brand are posted. It’s this kind of transparency and authenticity that the connected consumer craves.
In-house agencies or marketing teams bring a lot to the table for the brands they’re a part of. They know their brand voice inside and out. In certain cases, they can operate more efficiently than outside agencies.
But when it comes to staying on top of the leading-edge marketing trends that are guiding the most successful brands in the industry (or setting these trends in the first place), in-house teams rarely have the advantage. And in the age of the connected consumer, that can be a real liability.
Is your team ready to hack the gaps? Now might be the time to adopt a new playbook.