Technology makes it easier to target customers based on likes...

Technology makes it easier to target customers based on likes and past purchasing history, and smart marketers use that to their advantage. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / Michail_Petrov-96

Growing brand awareness, generating new leads and converting leads to sales are among the top priorities for marketers in 2017, according to a new survey.

To achieve those goals, smart marketers will focus on enhancing the customer experience. That will include mapping the “customer journey” and taking a more personalized approach to reaching customers.

Technology has made it easier to target customers based on likes and past purchasing history, and smart marketers will use that to their advantage.

“Top performers are getting more personalized in their approach . . . and making smarter decisions on where to invest using data to guide them,” says Guy Marion, chief marketing officer at Autopilot, a San Francisco marketing automation software firm. Autopilot recently conducted a survey that found marketers in 2017 plan to invest in online ads (30 percent), and customer events and marketing (30 percent), followed by email marketing (26 percent), social media (26 percent) and content development (24 percent). High performers, though, will focus more on the customer experience than on ads, according to the survey.

“The best, most successful marketers take a strong customer-journey centered approach,” Marion says.

In fact, 71 percent of high performers say they have mapped their customers’ journey. This includes identifying key buyers, learning the progression by which they become aware of the product or brand, knowing how they buy, and understanding all the channels — such as mobile, social media, etc. — in which the customer is interacting with the company Marion says.

“Marketers understand they need to provide a more tailored experience,” he notes. “It’s about personalizing messages across multiple channels.”

The more you know about each prospect or customer, the better, says Jillian Ryan, an analyst at eMarketer in Manhattan.

Small businesses may not have all the analytics tools to which bigger businesses have access, but they can use other resources to gather data (for example, collecting email addresses, seeing which emails customers open and what links they click on), she says.

“Strive to merge all the data points and devices a consumer is using to create a holistic record of that customer’s preferences and behaviors,” Ryan says, noting that marketing automation tools can help.

When considering ways to target consumers, Chris Searles, a partner at Searles Graphics, a Yaphank marketing firm, looks to invest in areas that his firm believes are undervalued.

For example, one medium the firm is pushing is direct mail.

“As people sink more dollars into the digital side, you’re seeing mailboxes less and less full,” he says. This can provide opportunity for savvy marketers.

For instance, track what your customer is purchasing and produce a targeted eight-page catalog rather than a generic 50-page catalog, he says.

Snapchat geofilters (custom-branded overlays on the social media site) are an inexpensive, undervalued advertising option, Searles adds.

Take an integrated approach melding different platforms, such as events, social media and digital, says Joe Mastrocovi, CEO of Moderne Communications, a Rockville Centre event marketing and media agency.

Companies “want to make sure . . . there’s a consistent story across all their marketing verticals, says Nick Stetz, senior strategist at Moderne.

More companies will invest in “experiential” marketing — live or event-based marketing, he says. For example, the firm did a U.S. campaign for McVitie’s (a British snack food) that included offering samples at the St. Patrick’s Day parades in Huntington, Rockville Centre and Hampton Bays. “It’s creating an experience with and for the brand,” Mastrocovi says.

Fast Fact

Top three challenges cited by marketers:

  • Budget constraints (48%)
  • Generating leads (41%)
  • Converting leads into sales (38%)

Source: Autopilot’s 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing Survey

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