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Thinking Digital – Are you in?

Thinking Digital – Are you in?

As New Zealand comes towards the end of the analogue age – for television at least, most householders have already made the change over to digital with their hardware.

It never ceases to amaze however, how many  business owners still steadfastly refuse to implement digital tools in their companies, preferring instead to stick with more traditional methods.

For some, that may be because they feel they are too old to learn new tricks, and have every intention of passing the business on to someone younger and letting them deal with the challenges of an online world, for others perhaps they simply don’t see any benefits to putting part or all of their business online.

Don’t get me wrong – I still love the power of a genuinely handwritten note from a business to a valued customer over a “personalised” mail drop to thousands of prospects.

For those who fear losing their personal touch when it comes to digitising their communications, there are many good reasons to take care – the examples of appalling corporate communication online and in our email inboxes are legion.

Mistakes to Avoid:

1) Database mistakes that “personalise” to the wrong person, or simply have inaccurate data on file that they refuse to update when people try to get it corrected.

2) Online marketing that pretends to be personalised but has no relevance to your interactions with the company involved. If you don’t have a relationship with someone, don’t try to pretend that you do.

3) Marketing that obviously takes no account of what customers really want – timely, efficient service, honest acknowledgement of mistakes, human speak not corporate gobbledygook, and offers that are of real value.

How do we achieve all of the above without employing a team of communicators to personally connect with all of our customers?

Marketing Automation is the answer.

This is a field that has been evolving over the last few years and has become increasingly sophisticated, with marketing automation platforms integrating with content tools, social media posting tools, analytics tools and CRMs, while delivering a highly focused form of inbound marketing.

Some of the examples currently in the market are Hubspot, seen by many as a pioneer of inbound marketing, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot (an offshoot of Salesforce) and Net Results – a bootstrapper who has taken on the bigger players with a very accessible product.

If a company is ‘doing marketing automation right’, their prospective customers will be communicated with in a way that fits wherever they are at in their research or buying process. Over time, these systems gather information about each customer so that each communication remains relevant, targeted, timely.

And over time, as the relationship evolves, long standing customers will reach a point where brands can communicate with them in a sort of insider’s shorthand, that understands exactly the nature of that relationship and adapts accordingly.

This process of evolution is not only applicable to email driven marketing, it is also something that can happen in website design with iterative changes that take people along a path of simplification as they learn how a site works. When you know the quickest path to your destination, you no longer need the flashing neon signs, in fact you would kind of prefer they didn’t exist any more. From a design perspective, that means we can whittle down some of the more obvious “signage” on a site, evolving to a simpler interface that works particularly well on mobile.

This evolutionary design approach works particularly well for businesses that have a lot of returning traffic on their websites. If your customers regularly return to browse, read or buy, then it is likely you can start to look at features that are not used or that people seem to skip over because they already know what they are looking for.

How do you work those things out?

Once again there are tools to make this process easier. User testing videos that record how your customers use the site, tracking tools that capture where people click and what pathways they use, mini surveys that pop up for a limited number of users, and A/B split testing once you have decided which features you want to remove and test.

One of the great benefits of digital is that nothing is irreversible, so you can test to see what works and what doesn’t, then make the changes permanent or return to the existing design and functionality.

Five years ago, these tools either didn’t exist, cost a fortune to implement or were simply very challenging to put in place. Now we have a choice of some very slick, user friendly, cloud based tools with very accessible pricing. So now is the time to get very smart with your digital presence.

We have the ability to work smarter, and begin demonstrating the very real ROI from your digital presence.

Give us a call if you want to know more.

About Karen Foreman-Brown

Karen Foreman-Brown is a digital strategist and online marketer with a particular interest in social media, content marketing and delivering spectacular outcomes for client organisations.
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Christchurch, Canterbury 8013