4 Keys to Successful Marketing in a Digital World

Even with all of the big data, fancy tools, savvy social networks and increasing capabilities of technology, the key piece to successfully marketing any business is developing strong relationships.

Technology remains a powerful tool. Multiple sessions at Interactive Day San Diego (IDSD) covered ways to integrate technology, develop strong digital campaigns and proper techniques for analytics or other tracking platforms. While very robust capabilities, the strength in all of the digital tools lies in the ability to develop a larger, yet more focused, base to build relationships.

“Big data is really small data,” Dennis Yu, Interactive Day Keynote, stated. He continued to emphasize the importance of using data to better understand your clientele, learn what drives them, and help them create and celebrate success. The real beauty comes when you zero in on your clients, better grasping their individual needs. It’s all about making the right connections and helping other people “become awesome.”

Below are several key takeaways to strengthen your abilities to make meaningful relationships through diving into digital marketing.

Trust: It’s a Journey

Moz CEO & Founder Rand Fishkin described the process of building engaged relationships, or “fans,” as a journey. Not just a short journey, one that takes place over weeks, or even months focused on developing trust with your audience.

Trust is a fickle. It needs to be earned.

Many brands seek to develop a large followings of dedicated fans overnight. Shoot off an e-mail into the void, post a few intriguing photos to Facebook combined with several well crafted tweets, and poof, instant fan base.

Reality, on the other hand, presents a very different story. Consumers, constantly overwhelmed and over stimulated by a relentless stream of information and ads, seek something relevant to their lives, ignoring all other content not sparking interest or adding true value.

And that is where the journey to building trust begins. Become the brand offering relevant information to enhance your audience’s life. Establish your relationship through becoming a trusted expert, integrating your best customer service aspects and extended resources through digital channels, serving real people on the other side.

And weeks, or even months later, you will start to develop a base of committed, loyal customers. Because you have proven to be a valuable and trusted addition to their lives.

Authenticity: Being Consistent

No one likes fake friends, and the same goes in the world of marketing. A strong brand develops a consistent message, quality of service and user experience throughout all platforms and stages of the relationship.

Melonie Gallegos, founder of Fandom Marketing, urged aspiring marketers that “Integrated communications who are consistent provide the best experience. “

Companies that provide great support when buying a product, all but disappearing once you try to implement their product tell customers that the sale ranks higher than the customer experience. While that may seem obvious, consider the way your brand interacts with people across all platforms (social, digital, phone, e-mail and in person). In other words, all touch points with your company?

Do they experience a high level of response on twitter, but hear only virtual crickets on e-mail? How does the online feedback compare to when they call in? Is your messaging on one platform contradicting that on another channel?

If you are unsure what type of experience customers are having, ask them. Eliciting customer feedback shows commitment to presenting an authentic front, as well as your company’s commitment to user experience.

Before diving into every budding platform, companies need to focus on the level of service they provide, ensuring they are representing their brand well across all fronts. Companies that don’t run the risk of feeling fake, and with so many competitors out there, the last image your company wants to portray is unauthentic.

David Shing, IDSD keynote and Digital Prophet for AOL, put it best. “Build experiences people want to share.” And that holds true across all platforms.

Connection: A Piece of the Relationship

Customers are looking for more than just what your brand or product can do. They want to feel inspired, motivated and connected to your brand. And your goal should be to provide just that, letting them become a part of your mission!

While there are multiple vehicles to engage your audience, storytelling harnesses the most power to develop deeper connections.

Matt Faulk from Basic Academy defined storytelling as “articulating what a brand is about and what they stand for and connecting it to what your customer is about and what they stand for. “

Start by understanding your target audience, what defines them, scares them, inspires them or even brings them joy. Develop your stories to resonate with them on one of those levels, focusing on the goal of eliciting human emotions connected to real experiences around your brand.

Once you can do that, the digital platform creates a multitude of ways to deliver your stories. Write it out on a blog, do a photo slideshow, create a video or any endless number combinations to share your story. And if you did it right, your audience will share it with their friends as well.

Celebration: It’s Working

You know your marketing is working when your fans start promoting your product for you. This marks the golden state for marketers, a utopia of sorts. Your fans do all the work and you just sit back raking in the rewards!

No? Well, a girl can dream. While a little far fetched, a golden standard to measure your company’s success, both in marketing and providing quality service, is when customers start promoting your service or products on their own. This doesn’t mean that your job as a marketer is completed, but it’s a moment to enjoy and celebrate a milestone.

Celebration works both ways. Just as happy customers spread the word about your brand, you need to celebrate their success. Remember, all marketing boils down to relationships. Dennis Yu recounted times Blitzmetrics went all out to celebrate client’s success, printing and mailing human sized posters depicting an impressive milestone or bringing fans into the spotlight at large events to recount their accomplishments.

Once your audience starts promoting your brand, you suddenly delve into a new world where you have user-generated content to implement into your marketing strategies. And what better way to develop an authentic experience, gain trust or connect with your audience than providing material from real live users.

Conclusion

What personally inspired me most about the IDSD was the how the speakers and attendees lived out the emphasis on building relationships. Conversations flowed on twitter, filled with suggestions and free resource guides. Every presenter offered up links to their slides, many proving e-mails for attendees to seek follow up information.

But it didn’t stay in the digital sphere. Several presenters stayed for the post event, as well as a large percentage of attendees. And that is where the bridge from digital conversations to real connections emerged.

I personally enjoyed Dennis Yu’s commitment to practice what he preached. Quickly responding to my thank you for an excellent presentation tweet, his response amazed me.

“Alexandra, thanks! What can I do for you to help you be even more awesome?”

Meeting in person provided a similar experience with his first comment “How can I help you today?” After 20 minutes of dedicated help, including e-mailing me a list of suggestions, his only request was that I pay it forward.

Now that is dedication to building quality relationships. I hope to pay it forward in full, as well as see other companies exhibit the same dedication to building relationships.