Widespread social media and overnight growth of smartphones and tablets, has drastically changed the amount and then mode of consumption of information. It is difficult to say whether the millennials and iGen drove the growth of always connected- always on social media platforms or the social media channels shaped a generation of the millennials and the iGens that consistently demand information at their fingertips. The only thing the marketing experts of today’s world know for sure is that the traditional buying process no longer applies to today’s consumers. To cater to this segment the marketing experts must rethink their strategy. Don’t get me wrong, the fundamentals of the buying process from becoming aware of the product to acquiring it hasn’t changed – but it has definitely evolved into a total different beast. Hence the challenges that a marketing pro of today’s world faces is very different. To respond to these challenges the marketeers must rewrite their strategies and develop a more evolved approach that doesn’t undermine the emerging get channels like the social media, digital platforms and mobile presence, but rather embraces all that it has to offer.
1. How to grab a potential customer’s attention: Becoming aware of the product is the very first step in a consumer buying process. In the marketing world of yesterday, the marketing pros would rely heavily on interruptive media like Television and radio advertisement, billboards and print publications to target the mass consumer with a well planned product concept and a crisp supporting message.
Today these traditional media have been replaced by Social Media channels like Whatsapp and Facebook or even Twitter. Before the mass media is able to receive, validate and then broadcast even a newsworthy piece, a first hand shot of the incident taken on the smartphone of an iGens onlooker would be circulating the channels. For the millennials and the iGens, it’s all about instant gratification resulting in a fast but highly distorted transmission of the original message.
The challenge for marketing pros has shifted from “how to stand out in a crowded market space” to
– how to engage on Social Media channels of people that matter
– how to create a snowball effect for the message they want to share and most importantly
– how to manage a positive image/influence on the social media and minimize the distortion.
Tips: it is pertinent that every business whether small, medium or enterprise have a well thought out strategy for digital and social media channels that goes beyond the basic presence and meaningless followers. Social media channels have much more to offer than few likes. It is a platform where business can truly understand the customer psi point and have intellectual conversation prior to even launching their products/services. Not only does it provide them with first hand market testing and research, it also helps them create a product/service that accurately responds to an existing market demand.
‘Listen and respond’ approach is also useful as a post sale customer service opportunity. Creating a positive experience for both the exiting customer and for the prospective buyer. After all the social media did become popular because consumers wanted to be heard.
Extend your presence beyond your own social channels – reach out to the extended platforms and digital forums available now your sector. Ensure you have presence in the digital consortium pertinent to your segment. Do not underestimate the power of collective influence.
2. How to play a prominent role in contributing to the millennials information gathering process: Gathering information and validating the product/service is usually the next step in the buying process. The marketing pro of yesterday really had it easy. Most communications, messaging and marketing approaches could be targeted towards the “opinion leaders” – a handful of ‘Influencers’ that would seek out all relevant information and validate the product for the masses.
The millennials and the iGens of today, have a totally different approach. When they want to seek out information, they pull out their smartphones and their tablets and Google to find out about the ratings of the product/service. They are still looking for information and validation but not from opinion leaders they know, only from strangers that have used the products. The challenge here is two-fold
– how do you contribute towards the information seeking process and
– how do you ensure the right amount of information is delivered in a compact format of a small screen smartphone or adhere to the brevity, expected from a digital media.
Tips: Content marketing can play a very prominent role in the information seeking process. The key here is to provide holistic information on the product/service/market trend and not to try and use it as an opportunity to sell. Understanding the objective of Content marketing is crucial to creating a positive relation with a prospective buyer. Invariably, customer tends to work with the company that was able to provide him with most useful and relevant information during his information seeking phase.
The key to successful Content marketing is not quantity but the quality and the relevance.
3. How to capture and convert the online information seekers into buyers: With the information seeking process getting digitized, one of the biggest challenges the market pros face today is how to capture these leads and convert them into customers. In yesterday’s world, information seekers would often walk into the stores to get the information on the products. A store provides ample opportunities for the whole slew of Sales professionals to engage the prospective buyer and convert him into a sale or a hot lead. So the challenge today is
– how do you capture the digital interaction and
– how do you engage with the online information seekers to convert them.
Tips: A website is no longer a nice to have. – it is a ‘must’ for catering to the iGen and millennials. Your website is usually your first impression. You wouldn’t have a shabby office or an unclean retail store – then why are you compromising on your website!? Invest appropriately to create that smashing first impression.
Changing Google algorithm restrains manipulator from falsifying the SEO results. This works in your favour. You do not want to be on the top of every search word through paid SEO – it only contributes to increased bounce ratio. Optimize your website organically. Use the social media to drive the traffic to your website. Use extended digital presence in conjunction with relevant content to create a wider online presence.
Provide downloadable content to capture the warm leads coming to your website.
Have a live chat option to engage with your online visitors and to change the online interface into a virtual POS and finally
Create a omni-retail experience so the buyer’s continued buying experience is not jarred by the huge discrepancy between your online and retail presence.
In conclusion, to succeed on today’s digitized marketing experience, the marketing pros must also create an always-on – always connected presence that resonates well with instant gratification mindset of the millennials and iGens.