Building sustainable, revenue producing customer relationships online comes down to 1) determining the right marketing mix for your organization and optimizing each channel, 2) setting up smart practices that lead to growth, both linear and exponential, 3) automating and systematizing processes wherever you can, and 4) establishing good data practices to learn and actively implement data insights.
1. Determining the marketing mix for your organization and optimizing each channel. Not only do you need to map out how to distinguish and map your marketing channels, you also need a data-driven approach that allows for smart and timely deployment and execution.
a. Owned vs. Investment channels – these are the channels that you control and deploy campaigns through (email, mobile push, social organic, etc.), vs. channels in which investment is required (boosting, SEM, paid influencers, local activations, etc.)
b. Core vs. Amplification efforts – simply put, linear/ diminishing growth vs. exponential growth channels. Linear channels are typically things like email (you have a finite-ish population size to serve) or social retargeting (you can only retarget those who have visited/ interacted with your content, thus a finite pool), whereas exponential channels such as referral networks or acquisition/ engagement loops provide exponential growth opportunities.
c. Push vs. Pull channels – I consider these to be fundamental separations in how an organization can communicate. You are either pushing content to an individual through email, mobile push, SMS, phone call, etc. (where you control the interaction time and place) or you are producing content that pulls individuals towards you to consume your content such as your website, social pages, blog content, etc.
d. Marketing Funnel and Growth Framework – once you’ve mapped out your channels across the strategic breakdowns above, you need both a process and approach to put everything into action. The marketing funnel allows you to better understand the consumer journey and the points in which conversions may be hung up, whereas your growth framework is the automation, logic, and machine learning that you put into place that allows you to maximize both your linear and exponential growth channels.
2. Setting up smart practices that lead to growth, both linear and exponential. As touched on above, there are channels that are typically linear in their returns and others that follow more exponential type returns.
a. Acquisition & Engagement Loops – explained earlier, acquisition and engagement loops are processes that help organizations gain greater scale. This is accomplished through setting up practices that leverage current users/ purchasers/ fans of your organization to help grow your following. Although similar to a referral program, acquisition & engagement loops focus on simpler streamlined processes that allow for sharing of content.
b. Local activations – also sometimes referred to as grass roots marketing, local activations on a national, regional, and local level allow you to hit a large number of people live, in a short period of time. When executed correctly, they also generate a large amount of content that can be used and disseminated on your core digital channels (social organic, web, email, etc.).
c. Influencer marketing – many think of paid influencers when influencer marketing comes up, when organizations should instead be thinking about both, yes, the paid options, but also the free/ low expense influencer options of their existing database and “fans” who can also act in this capacity to their respective networks.
d. Social media – a powerful tool and channel for a multitude of reasons, this channel should be used to build awareness of your brand, and should be one of the most consistent and managed of an organization’s arsenal, as it is one of the most forward facing ways in which to communicate with your consumer base.
e. Digital communities – an under-utilized resource for organizations, there are millions of people out there that have and share interests that align with your brand online. As such, it is vital to engage with these digital communities in an honest and organic way, and when possible to create an environment that allows for these digital communities to be created around your brand and organization. This means becoming part of conversations and communities with shared interests that increase credibility and downstream benefits and replicable revenue.
f. Behavior science/ Gamification – marketing is the practice of influencing individuals into buying and selling products and services. Inserting behavioral science practices examines both the macro and micro realms of how intrinsic and extrinsic motivations lead individuals to take certain actions. In today’s world, gamification of products is often leveraged to get consumers to consume or act more.
g. Referral & Networks – the ultimate amplification practice, referral and networks leverages an organization’s current members/ subscribers/ purchasers to do the heavy lifting by recommending family, friends, etc., to also consume both your content and products.
3. Automating and systematizing processes.
a. Automation – the first step marketers and organizations alike can take in creating efficiencies is automating the processes they have in place.
b. Programmed and data driven logic (Aer1.x) – once automating as many of the processes as possible, the next logical step is creating a set of rules and logic to help you make informed decisions relating to your marketing.
c. Machine learning – now that you have automation and data-driven logic working, implementing advanced learning techniques such as machine learning will help you get smarter from every interaction you have.
d. Artificial Intelligence – you’re learning more and more from every interaction you have with your consumers. The final step is to let AI assist in your decision making moving forward.
4. Establishing good data practices to learn and actively implement data insights.
a. Data capture – are you capturing all possible data points from every interaction and touch point with the consumer?
b. Reporting & Measurement – are you able to take the data you’re capturing and create a series of dashboards that represent the data in an easily digestible way?
c. Insights – are the data providing you with information that helps you decide on next steps and how to improve your business?
d. Implementation – are you taking what you’ve learned and turning it into action?
Properly implementing these techniques go a long way in building sustainable, revenue- producing relationships with an organization’s consumer base. Although simple in theory, maintaining the right balance and focus is both time consuming and an on-going process that is continually evolving and requires refinement.