It is a given that your target audience is a digital audience. Pew recently reported that 89% of mobile users said they used their device during their most recent social interaction, whether reading, snapping a photo, or researching something that came up in conversation. Digital interactions are seamlessly interwoven into all of our lives, around the globe — it is not just for reaching consumers during down time or alone time. Effective digital marketing means ensuring that those audiences can find what they need, when they need it, without interrupting the conversation; reaching them at the moments that matter.
Shifting Touchpoints in the Digital World
Buzzwords like “second screen,” “beacons,” or “internet of things” only scratch the surface of what’s actually happening. As a society, we consume digital media through three of our five senses: sight, sound, and touch. Often we are consuming through several of those senses at the same time: last week I made holiday cookies while viewing the screen on a tablet, listening to a streaming music service, and unlocking my smartphone with my thumb so I could dictate a message to my friends — “I’ll be late tonight! Busy barking. No, baking. Stupid autocorrect. Wait, don’t send that!”
Every one of us can find the glitches where the system does not work perfectly, but those hiccups are becoming few and far between. The complexity of our interaction with our devices every day is immense, ubiquitous, and multi-sided. Try to list out every interaction that you have had with your smartphone alone today; it would probably take you two hours, with several rounds of revision as you remember the details of your interactions.
Finding the Humanity in the Algorithm
So what are the voices, sights, and touchpoints audiences give the most credence? The friends that you are messaging for one. Then, just as a hobbit has “second breakfast,” you have “second friends” — your social media contacts, and online reviewers, whom 79% of consumers trust as much as their friends.
Then there is our old friend the search engine, which has not lost any credibility over the years. Google, Bing, and Yahoo have built their brands — and their algorithms — by serving up what people deem most important for a search term, rather than what the computer determines to be the most important. The 2015 Searchmetrics Ranking Factors study, aka the SEO handbook, included user experience for the first time as a separate category for search ranking. It is not that the algorithm does not matter, it is just that the algorithm is more informed by human behavior than ever before.
But what is even more important than the search term itself is the ease of finding the information you need once you click through to the search page. First off, does the page load quickly? Most consumers will abandon a website that does not load in under 3 seconds. Then, is the information on the page on the page even useful? 51 percent of smartphone users have been persuaded to use a brand other than one they prefer after finding useful information on a competitor’s website via search.
Defining Those Moments That Matter
Let’s say you are full from holiday cookies and feeling a little lethargic but chatting with friends about New Year’s Resolutions. You realize that you might want to work out more frequently — and not only that, but you want to have fun while doing it. You want to improve your life. There is the start to your consumer journey.
- I want to improve my life. Your intent: find motivation. You might visit to a lifestyle website and see what the cool, new 2016 workout trends are.
- I want to join a gym. Your intent: research potential options. You think about your schedule, your willingness to try something new, and your lifestyle, and you see what’s around to meet those needs. You might visit some locations to check out the services.
- I want to join the gym right now. Your intent: determine the right brand, location, price, etc. You want to know what is in your neighborhood, and what fits within your budget and your life.
- I’m joining the gym. Your intent: Acquire a gym membership. You will go directly to the brand’s website.
- I love this gym and want others to join too. Your intent: share the experience. Here is where you tell your friends, write a review online, and share posts.
Google calls these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-go, and I-want-to-buy micro-moments. We have always called it knowing how your audience is behaving online, and being there when they need you, at the moments that matter.
Digital Marketing Adjusts to Human Touchpoints in 2016
As a digital marketing agency, how have we changed to accommodate this cross-channel digital racket? In the past year, Nina Hale, Inc. has pivoted from an algorithm-centric operation to a consumer-centric strategic powerhouse, defined by consumer journey modeling and understanding consumer intent at each moment that matters.
Digital marketing in 2016 will not be about being everywhere, all the time, for everyone. Our resources and budgets won’t allow us to be absolutely everywhere all the time, and there’s no reason to be on a channel that’s popular for 10-17 year olds, if your audience is retirement-age.
What we aim for is to be absolutely everywhere when and where our customers need us to be, based on their behavioral patterns. Search data, usage data, social sharing patterns, lookalike audiences, custom audiences and more: all of these sources tell us where and how audiences want to be found.
But the research is only half the battle. Marketing in 2016 will be all about producing the story that matches the sense that matches the intent at the moment of need. The processes of optimization, content marketing and media planning helps your story find your audiences.