Are you struggling to engage customers, or to keep them engaged? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, 65 percent of marketers aren’t giving customers what they want — namely, a seamless shopping (or branding) experience across Web, mobile, and stores.
Few understand the importance of energizing a brand more than Peter Shankman, a world-recognized marketing guru, author, entrepreneur, speaker and social connector. Known for his radical ways of thinking, he’s been called "a public relations all-star who knows everything about new media and then some” by The New York Times and “crazy but effective” by Investor’s Business Daily (and he proudly broadcasts both quotes on his website).
I certainly wouldn’t call the guy crazy, especially after listening to him at Silverpop’s annual Amplify conference last month. Peter Shankman is full of energy — the kind of creative, forward-thinking energy that smart marketers seek out.
Here are a few words of wisdom I learned from listening to Peter — advice that could help you re-energize your marketing message and better engage customers:
1) “Admit when you screw up.”
Failure is inevitable, but how you fail, and what you do with that failure, is what’s most important. Own up to your mistakes — whether it’s listening lapses, poor customer service, or failed marketing attempts that resulted in overwhelming people with irrelevant content. If you’re transparent about messing up, your customers will believe you moving forward. Heck, they’ll be impressed to hear a company apologize. It’s just the kind of crazy (and genuine) tactic that works.
If you’ve given your customers less than your best, try an apology campaign. Tell them it won’t happen again, and create a special offer. When you treat your customers the way you want to be treated — with honesty and respect — most of them will give you a second chance to make a good impression.
2) “Brand everything you do.”
Peter started his first company in 1998 — when AOL laid off 300 people, including him. He had just enough money to pay his rent … and a great idea. The movie Titanic was about to hit theaters, so Peter printed 500 T-shirts that read, “It sank. Get over it.” Within a couple months, he’d sold 10,000 shirts and made $100,000.
A strong brand (even if it’s inspired by someone else’s brand) is powerful stuff. In Peter’s case, it meant the difference between financial hardship and fortune and fame. For your business, it could mean the difference between subpar sales and an influx of business.
The challenge is to keep your brand strong (and consistent) across different channels — including your website, social media pages, email, mobile app, customer service, etc. The key to delivering a seamless, consistent brand experience? A marketing automation platform that feeds all your multichannel data into one place — not scattered across silos — and enables you to act on this data in real time.
3) “Embrace the concept, not the brand.”
Twitter is a delivery pipe. Mobile is the future.
We’re all using our phones more and more, which leads to quick communication. But don't get the channel (Twitter) confused with the concept. Incorporate mobile into your strategies if you want to win, but make sure you aren't approaching your strategy the other way around. Twitter might be the go-to site for marketing now, but it could also go the way of MySpace. Mobile, however, is a trend that will only get bigger.
Nearly 40 percent of marketers haven’t yet defined mobile objectives, nor have they created metrics to measure the effectiveness of mobile tactics. Don’t miss the bus on this one. Find ways to better integrate mobile into your overall marketing strategy, so that you can deliver personalized content exactly how your customers want to receive it — on their phones.
4) “Brevity is the future of communication.”
Your customers are busy people with crowded Inboxes. So get to the point, deliver useful information in as few words as possible, and take steps to make your emails more relevant.
That means tracking your digital customers’ behaviors and using this data to serve up dynamic content or unique messaging streams with the offers and info they want to receive. If you don’t, you’ll be taking the quickest route to “delete” and “unsubscribe.”
5) “Stop telling people to like you.”
Instead of telling your customers how great you are, create experiences that make them like you. Provide content that’s fun and educational in between the promotional stuff, and look for exciting new ways to reward your best customers.
If you can leverage your customer data to figure out what each individual actually wants and when they want it, then you’ll be in an excellent position to deliver a uniquely tailored online experience that’s sure to engage.
I’d like to thank Peter for sharing his success secrets with Silverpop’s team and customers at this year’s Amplify event, as well as providing the inspiration for this blog post. If you missed my post about Arianna Huffington’s Amplify keynote, check out her tips for helping your customers thrive.
1) Slideshare: “13 Tips for Dealing with the Inevitable Email Marketing Mistake”
2) Video: “Using Post-Purchase Segmentation to Reward Best Customers”
3) Tip Sheet: “5 Tips for ‘White Space’ Emails That Educate, Entertain and Engage”