As marketing departments spend the first month of 2016 preparing and planning the strategy for the year ahead, it’s worth taking a moment to analyse the performance of marketing efforts in 2015, and identify areas of improvement to ensure campaigns are fully maximised this year. That’s not to say that effective marketing wasn’t implemented in 2015, but planning season should be focusing on building, and improving the successes of 2015 which will drive better relationships with customers, build brand reputation and influence sales.
The first port of call for marketers is to understand where the strongest assets are for the business, and what is available to inform their communications strategy. This could be the previous year’s sales patterns, to inform the strategic timing of each campaign, or identifying new groups of potential customers that should be targeted. Whatever the focus for marketing may be, it’s vital that all marketing departments take some time to assess and analyse the effectiveness of their data. Without a strong level of understanding of what the data means, and therefore what can be done with it, campaigns will be one-off hits that have little effect on the overall strategy and wider business goals.
As a result, it’s vital that marketers are attentive to their databases, which harness their customer information and use this data to add real value to the lives of customers this year. Informed insights that can be gleaned from this should be the starting point for any communications plan – after all success is determined by how engaged customers are, and how likely they are to spend. The implication of a disengaged customer could be the difference between a returning customer, and one that shops around with competitors. In order for businesses to position themselves as a true value-add for the customer, they must be able to ‘catch their customers in the moment’, and understand exactly who they are talking to, when they want to receive communication and through which channel they are most engaged with. Most marketing teams will already have this information available to them in some form or another through previous marketing efforts, so it’s now time to spend a little time putting plans into place that will allow the communications plan for the year to deliver better relationships and tangible results.
So, what can marketers to do to ensure that they’re marketing efforts are fully rewarded with better results in 2016?
1. System installation
Installing a system in place that unifies all touchpoints is a great place to start. Not only will this ensure that data becomes easily accessible for analysis, it will provide valuable insight into customer behaviours which can then be utilised to shape communications and drive better responses.
2. Ensure communication is creative, but compliant
Every marketing team would like to avoid compliance problems this year, and the potential fines and damage to reputation that comes with it. By using a system that aligns people, processes and technology across a whole department or organisation, campaigns can be standardised and automated across the organisation, and created with regulatory mandates in place. Marketing teams can then focus on the creativity behind the campaign, and maintain compliance at the same time.
3. Maximise results through real-time insight
A campaign that is constantly optimised and updated will undoubtedly strengthen the long-term performance and results that are generated. Using real-time insight from customers, such as analysing what they’re most engaged with, will allow marketers to tweak campaigns as they’re happening. There’s now the capability to analyse and optimise mid-campaign as opposed to waiting until the campaign has closed to improve the next one, if the correct systems are in place that allowing marketers to react quickly to information as and when it becomes available.
4. Create a truly personal journey for the customer
The best campaigns add real value to the consumer, and marketing departments are recognising that each of their customers are different and have unique preferences. It’s now time for marketers to use their data to create a holistic understanding of exactly who their customer is, which will be greatly assisted once data is looked at in full through a unifying system as opposed to various silos across the business. Communications can then be carefully planned to ensure that customers are being interacted with in ways which have the best possible results of response for that particular individual, to start a conversation that can build throughout the year.
5. Communicate effectively cross-channel
We’re now living in a communications world where customers expect a consistent message across all online and offline marketing channels. Those marketers that break down communications by separating channels will have a disjointed and fragmented approach, which relies on customers to engage with the initiative through the same channel. As the amount of channels now available is constantly increasing, it’s vital that campaigns are consistent across every touchpoint, so that the wider journey can then be tracked. This will then provide insight into the most effective forms of communication, and create a better experience for the end-user.
6. Don’t forget mobile
The use of mobile in marketing has now gone from the fringes of the communication web to the heart. Marketers must mirror consumer behaviours if they are to achieve success, and with figures published towards the end of last year suggesting that we, as a nation, check our smartphones 1.1 billion times a day, consumer behaviour is certainly becoming more and more centred around smartphone devices. Optimising campaigns and websites for mobile view is merely the starting point, and effective marketing campaigns this year should really understand the power of mobile, and how it can be used to deliver results.
2016 therefore should be the year that marketers use every piece of data they can to ensure that they are issuing campaigns that will grab the attention of the recipient, in what will continue to be a crowded and competitive market place. Those that use data will be able to use better insights which will ultimately drive better campaign performance. Those that don’t run the risk of communications being disjointed, fragmented and unlikely to reach their customers.