Online Marketing in Winnipeg – What Works and What Doesn’t

For marketers, the journey so far has consisted of identifying consumers’ needs and wants, and then strategizing ways to meet those needs and wants. This has led to the development of customer-centric strategies that seek to understand the customer’s journey—from initial contact, to product/service usage, to advocacy—and then optimize the experience around those pillars.

While many aspects of marketing are still applicable, the way we interact with the world around us is changing. Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, customers are changing the way they want to do business with brands, and vice versa. The digital nomad lifestyle has emerged, allowing individuals to work remotely and connect with people and businesses across the globe. Customers are now able to connect with businesses 24/7, ensuring they never truly go offline.

This trend has led to a change in the way brands should interact with consumers—from inbound marketing’s traditional marketing model, where a brand would speak to a consumer, to an organic approach, where the brand is an extension of the customer’s experience.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a philosophy that promotes interacting with customers rather than pitching products to them. In other words, a brand or company builds trust with its audience through meaningful interactions that inspire action. This might include offering useful tips or tricks to a digital audience, establishing yourself as an industry expert, or even inviting customers to become brand advocates and share their experience online.

Businesses that adopt an inbound marketing strategy value the following:

  • A focus on facilitating helpful, engaging interactions between the brand and target audience.
  • The generation of content that is both informative and entertaining.
  • The promotion of trust and credibility.
  • The use of metrics and analytics to understand and improve business performance.
  • A willingness to experiment and grow.
  • An emphasis on storytelling, rather than sales.

Traditional Marketing Models

In 2017, marketers will be challenged to update their traditional marketing models and approach, given the inbound marketing approach.

While inbound marketing is a sound approach and supported by the right metrics, the truth is that not all businesses or brands can or should adopt this strategy. This is because not all products and services are created equal, and it’s unfair to expect all brands to operate under one model.

Businesses that seek to interact with customers in a helpful and engaging manner will find that the inbound model works well for them. These brands can then focus on developing a sound content strategy, including blog posts, product descriptions, FAQs, and more, that supports their inbound approach.

On the other hand, businesses that want to retain their customers with traditional marketing might find that they need to make some changes. Depending on the products and services that their business offers, they might need to consider pivoting to an outbound marketing approach—where a brand would engage with a new customer via paid advertisements—in order to reach their target audience.

Paid Advertising

Speaking of changing trends, the world of paid advertising has also evolved to support inbound marketing. For instance, Google AdWords is now providing the analytics necessary to measure the effectiveness of paid ads. This enables businesses to optimize their campaigns, based on what is working and what isn’t. As a result, paid advertising doesn’t just mean paying for ads on a website; it can also mean paying for ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Natural Language Processing

Even if you don’t have a huge marketing budget, you can take advantage of emerging technologies like NLP (natural language processing) and speech recognition to drive engagement and conversions for your business.

The use of NLP allows businesses to create automated email campaigns that can tailor content based on the individual’s language patterns and can adapt based on the subject matter.

As you might imagine, brands that want to interact with customers and build trust through helpful advice or guidance will find that NLP is a useful tool to have in their bag of tricks.

Social Media

Speaking of marketing on social media, many brands and businesses have learned to harness the power of these platforms and the communities that exist on them. This is due to the fact that platforms like Twitter allow businesses to have one-on-one conversations with consumers, which can lead to brand evangelism, product discovery, and ultimately, sales.

Although it is possible to market to an audience that is only on social media, it’s not advisable for every business. However, for those that want to engage with customers on a more personal level, social media can be an invaluable tool.

Generated Lists

Email marketing is one of the most effective and efficient ways to communicate with consumers. Still, more and more businesses are choosing to bypass the email and go straight to the top of the funnel, where they can find their target audience.

Organic marketing approaches allow businesses to build subscriber lists manually, with the help of a tool like MailChimp, and then send out automated email campaigns, tailored to their target audience.

While it’s important to have a steady stream of new subscribers flowing into your list, it’s not necessarily a good idea to just go above and beyond and sign everyone up. This is because, usually, people who sign up for your list are already interested in your product or service and have a desire to hear from you. In other words, they’re already at the point in their journey that you’re trying to reach.

As a general rule, you don’t want to sign up people who aren’t already fully committed to your brand. This will inevitably result in a lot of spam and a low subscription rate.

Customer Segments

Instead of focusing on a general audience, marketers should aim to define smaller, more specific segments of the population and then tailor marketing messages and offers to fit that audience. For example, if you sell shoes, you might want to create a customer segment for men who like flashy sneakers—shoes with bright colors, patterns, and designs—and then use that segment for targeted marketing.

This approach enables businesses to define a smaller audience and then send out tailored messages via email, social media, or other platforms. In fact, segmented marketing is so important that the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) has published a guide to help businesses implement segmented marketing.

Mobile Marketing

Thanks to the growing prevalence of mobile phones and tablets, it’s now possible to communicate with customers on the go. This has created a new frontier for mobile marketing—and the opportunities are endless.

From offering coupons that can be instantly redeemed on a mobile device, to sending out timely notifications when a product is about to go on sale, to showing relevant ads when a customer browses the mobile website of a brand, mobile marketing allows businesses to get their message across to consumers, wherever they are.

As with any other form of marketing, it’s important to determine the purpose of your mobile marketing strategy. Are you looking to acquire new customers? Are you looking to encourage existing customers to engage with your brand on a mobile level? Or do you just want to have a presence on mobile and then monitor the traffic that comes from it?

Personal Branding

When people think of personal branding, they usually think of celebrities and famous brands. However, this is where the term originated, and it has long been used by ordinary individuals looking to carve out their own niche in the world.

While celebrities and famous brands can certainly benefit from having a personal brand, this is something that can be done by anyone. This is because everyone has a story to tell, and when you put yourself in the position of a listener, you’ll discover that everyone has something interesting to say.

From creating a personal brand to stand out in a crowd to simply having a unique voice to offer, every individual has the power to brand themselves and establish themselves as an authority in their industry. This is especially important for millennials, as the digital nomad lifestyle enables them to follow their passions, establish themselves as experts, and then, provide value to others in their niche.