Consumer Relationship Building: Be a Customer-Centric Business


Organizations that foster innovation and agility can quickly adapt to changes in marketplace conditions and technological capabilities into the future.  Companies that master the new technological changes in marketing can benefit greatly.  Innovation and agility are important, but brand recognition, trust and loyalty are more important for companies today than in the past (“The new era,” 2012).  The top business strategic initiative for organizations should be prioritization in building relationships with consumers.  Building relationships and trust among consumers shows respect, which is at the heart of building business relationships.  Respect leads to accepting a person for who they really are.  When building relationships, businesses must accept different opinions and views from consumers to create an environment of trust.  Trust leads to new opportunities, collaborations, strategies, ideas, and new products.  Consumers assist in co-creating products and services that are beneficial for businesses.

As social media continues to expand, more businesses are engaging in social media campaigns.  The key to building relationships on social media requires a combination of two things, the creation of great content posted on social sites and conversations that foster meaningful relationships on social media sites.  Social media links to visibility, credibility and profitability.  Using applications such as Twitter and Facebook increases branding and visibility as social sites grow.  Having a credible reputation enhances the possibilities of increasing customers thus resulting in larger profitability.

Marketing methods are at times more effective when combining multiple channels of communicating to consumers.  Digital distribution channels cover traditional marketing areas of communicating in a digital way.  Digital marketing is more personal, relevant, and cost-effective in reaching consumers because it involves various channels of reaching people with or without the use of the Internet.  Innovative methods in doing business are rapidly changing from a technological point of view, but organizations must remember that digital media is still a person-to-person activity.  Blogging and being part of connecting to communities are all personal activities, which are ways organizations can connect with consumers.  Companies should be customer centric and the social business approach requires engagement with the target market.

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Future Trends in Digital Marketing


The future of organizations will be judged on the quality of their concepts (leading-edge ideas, designs and product formulations), on their competencies (ability to deliver products and transform ideas into services) and their collaborative networks (Fyall & Garrod, 2005).  The importance of innovativeness as a business-level strategic objective is to ensure the survival of businesses, since innovation in and of itself is a necessary but insufficient condition to provide continued organizational survival and success.  Once off, discrete product or service innovations are not sufficient to guarantee long-term success.  Success is not determined at the individual product innovation level, but at the overall organizational level.  To illustrate, a business that has a very good service or product innovation will benefit from a temporary competitive advantage until competitors decode its source of competitiveness and imitate the innovation.  On the other hand, innovativeness assists in gaining a long-term competitive advantage because it is part of the organization’s corporate DNA and cannot be easily decoded, copied or imitated by competitors.

Innovativeness deemed as an extremely important dynamic capability because it enables the business to alter its internal resource base, quickly adapt, and respond to its changing market environment.  Organizations that are dynamic and highly flexible have the ability to orchestrate changes, build new capabilities, transform the asset base and reconfigure processes that are crucial for competitiveness.

An innovative organization that has the ability to be nimble, change quickly and be alert to changes in the environment can apply dynamic capabilities sooner and more strategically than competitors can, and will be able to adapt quickly and easily to changing market conditions.  More innovation capable organizations have the ability to build and deploy distinctive resources faster than others.  Looking ahead to the year 2021, two trends are apparent:

  1. The volume of available information will continue to grow rapidly, driving the need for synthesis.  Hence, processing power will continue to increase and advanced analytics will flourish (Micu, Dedeker, Lewis, Moran, Netzer, Plummer, & Rubinson, 2011).
  2. The need for closeness to the customer will drive innovation, especially in unprompted consumer research.  Corporate leaders will develop fluid, searchable knowledge collection capabilities—an insights-on-demand capability that will not require interruptions to initiate individual studies to answer business questions (Micu, Dedeker, Lewis, Moran, Netzer, Plummer, & Rubinson, 2011).

Collaborative Marketing


Moving a business forward requires a shift from focusing on projects and planning to creativity and decision-making.  Integrated networks, collaboration, and agility allow for explorations, initiate quick action, and fulfilling business needs.  It has been commonplace for organizations to collaborate in order to achieve their goals.  With the increasing pace of technology and trends, traditional relationships among organizations moved to the past and replaced by collaborative arrangements.  This trend is apparent in organizations that are discovering the power of collaborative action with their customers to bring together business insight, research and technology to provide consumers an advantage in the rapidly changing environment.

Employees and partners can form integrated networks on mobile devices to exchange relevant information anytime and anywhere.  Although the potential for benefiting from collaboration is enormous, many companies are not fully maximizing these opportunities, and not taking advantage of ways to develop new competencies and skills.  For example, the benefit of connecting remote teams improves decision-making and enables problem solving for employees.  Collaborative relationships strongly impact the foundation of many businesses, assisting in the process of gaining access to new markets, enhancing the social capital and leading to an organization’s success (Alonso, 2011).  Forming strong relationships underline the value of horizontal and vertical alliances between businesses, as well as the use of technology in maximizing collaborative efforts.

Transition from Traditional to Digital Marketing


Although companies still use traditional marketing, organizations are moving toward digital media from traditional marketing for two main reasons, social networking and technological advancements.  Social networking forms a two-way communication with consumers and technological advancements provides easy communication with businesses.  Traditional media is transaction oriented focusing more on sales instead of the consumer and traditional media strategy involves purchasing more media to gain potential sales.  Digital media, on the other hand, is customer focused which generates relationships with customers.  Just as the Internet changed the marketplace, integrating social and mobile technologies into the enterprise design forced to shape the digital marketing landscape.  As mobile networks become more powerful and wireless networks have broader reach, the 21st century is in a world of ubiquitous access to the Internet.  Mobile screens are growing larger and laptops are getting smaller.  Consumer decision-making and the immediacy of information is impacting this huge change.  Advancements in digital technologies transformed organizations’ way of communicating with consumers where there will be no such thing as offline.  One thing is clear that the digital marketing change is evolving rapidly.  Search engines, for example, change the rank of web sites all the time and is influenced by social media and Web 2.0 channels.  Organizations have to keep up with these changes and keep an eye on future emerging trends to develop newer and smarter search engine algorithms.

Social Media Advertising


Organizations can penetrate the market and reach their targeted audience by using social media advertising.  Media advertising is the largest contributor to brand building, therefore successful advertising programs should include themes that communicate company mission, branding and services as well as specific product information.  Businesses can use social media advertising by targeting consumers based on demographics and psychographic information.  According to a recent BIA/Kelsey forecast in May 2012, United States social media advertising spending will increase from $3.8 billion in 2011 to $9.8 billion in 2016, with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) total spend estimated at 21% on social display and non-social display (“U.S. social,” 2012).

Social media marketing assists companies with sales growth as well as provides businesses a venue to reach a larger target audience.  A recent study showed consumers choosing cheaper brands during a recession and although the economy improved, the customers were more comfortable with the cheaper brand and chose not to switch back (Reynar, Phillips, & Heumann, 2010).  The finding suggests organizations should intensify their marketing and advertising to prevent consumers from switching.  In addition, companies can create visibility and build brand equity by using various forms of social media advertising such as online display advertisements.

Online-targeted advertising measures at the individual consumer level, therefore, organizations would need to make sweeping changes to the way they approach marketing, advertising, and consumers.  To illustrate, rich media and promotions on video streaming can enhance a company’s profile and static banner advertisements linked to coupons or events can encourage consumers to try out a product or service.  A variety of factors including the economy, product innovation, and competitive marketing play a role in the organization results.  Ultimately, new organizational strategies and tools are required in digital marketing to connect effectively with consumers.

Digital Marketing Analytics


Analytics, offered by many social networking sites, are helping businesses target consumer needs and identifying emerging trends.  Social media analytics are helpful in determining the path where traffic is generated, content that appeals to consumers, and demographics that are involved.  Many businesses are recognizing the need to use social media analytics to discover evolving trends, thus prompting organizations to offer new analytics services and products.  For example, Facebook Insights provide metrics and record data for each business page.  SAS entered the social media analytics business by offering solutions that integrate, archive, analyze, and enable organizations to act on intelligence from media sites (“SAS social,” 2012).

Trendspotting


Trendspotting is an important marketing intelligence tool to identify and track consumer interests and behavior tendencies (Du & Kamakura, 2012).  Trendspotting is currently conducted qualitatively by searching for signs of major shifts in consumer wants and needs, or quantitatively by monitoring individual indicators such as keywords or blogs.

As customers use search engines to gather service and product information, read reviews online, and communicate through social media, a wealth of real-time indicators of their behaviors, interests, and opinions become an available new source of information for organizations to conduct market sensing, leading to more insightful and timely marketing intelligence.  Market sensing traditionally involved analyzing and tracking vital marketplace indicators (Du & Kamakura, 2012).

Many online trending services such as Facebook Insights gather and track individual indicators and provide search volume indexes for queries.  More integrated services can cover multiple platforms simultaneously such as Trendrr (trndrr.com) to monitor public comments about brands, services, or products in real-time across a large spectrum of social media and digital media (Du & Kamakura, 2012).  Companies can monitor and obtain trends by studying tracking metrics online.  Although online trending can be useful, tracking data primarily base on the trajectory of a single indicator.  Individual indicators can be unreliable and noisy, containing idiosyncrasies that hide real trends lying underneath (Du & Kamakura, 2012).  In order for organizations not to read too much into the individual indicator, it seems better to simultaneously identify and interpret common trend lines under a large number of time series also known as quantitative trendspotting (Du & Kamakura, 2012).

Long before online consumer interest trending services emerged, trend analysis was an integral part of marketing intelligence by tracking and identifying consumer tendencies.  Until the widespread use of search engines, digital, and social media, trendspotting was qualitative since it relies heavily on recognizing and interpreting signs of a new trend.  Quantitative trendspotting is about trends in the tradition of time-series analysis or trend lines of a collection of longitudinal measures (Du & Kamakura, 2012).  On the other hand, qualitative trendspotting is about forecasting the shift in consumer interest or behavior, such as the emergence of a new paradigm (Du & Kamakura, 2012).  In other words, quantitative trendspotting focuses on uncovering trends that already exist, which may come about in the near future, whereas qualitative trendspotting is attempting to seek out radical departures from the past that may reshape the marketplace in the future (Du & Kamakura, 2012).