We all know that digital marketing is a powerful tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Harnessing the power of this multifaceted discipline can help you to make the right impression on your target market, solidify your brand’s reputation, and get your message in front of your ideal consumers.

While most brands pour a great deal of time, effort, and capital into their digital marketing endeavours, some have a fundamentally incorrect approach to marketing. Here we’ll look at how a ‘Customer First’ approach to your digital marketing can help to build value and trust in your brand and help to grow your business sustainably.

First, let’s take a look at why businesses sometimes get it wrong.

Ask not what your customer can do for you, but what you can do for your customer

We totally understand how easily businesses can (even with the very best intentions) get it fundamentally wrong when it comes to their marketing. When you run your own business, your career, your income and your livelihood are intrinsically linked to that business’ performance.

Thus, it’s easy to get swept up in the minutiae of what you need from your customers; sales targets you have to hit, conversion rates you need to optimise and engagement quotas you need to fill.

Nonetheless, while this can provide a benchmark against which you can measure your performance, it cannot be what dictates your digital marketing efforts. Likewise, just running with your own ideas (however inspired they might seem) without using market research as a sounding board has historically led to some spectacular digital marketing fails.

So, how do you implement a ‘Customer First’ marketing strategy and how can it lead to robust growth for your business? Let’s take a look…

It starts with accurate data

Needless to say, there will always be a need for creative inspiration in the development of digital marketing campaigns and materials. Nonetheless, while these campaigns may be shaped by the creative vision of your business, they should also be informed by customer data.

Your digital marketing strategy is infinitely more likely to resonate with your target audience if their input is involved from its inception. The key to creating a ‘Customer First’ strategy is personalisation and you cannot create a framework for personalisation without first knowing what your consumers want.

You can choose to use historical and analytical data in your marketing campaign, but qualitative market research is perhaps your most powerful tool in developing strategies which speak to their intended audiences. Some examples of qualitative market research methodologies you may want to use include:

  • Focus groups
  • Individual interviews
  • Customer feedback forms
  • In-person behaviour observations
  • User analytics

This data should be used not just in the formulation of marketing materials but in testing their efficacy before they are released online.

Create content that solves a problem

Most entrepreneurs know that content marketing is an effective and necessary discipline in strengthening their relationship with their target market while also reinforcing their brand’s identity and tone of voice.

Content marketing can help establish you as an authority in your chosen industry; showcasing your knowledge, skills, expertise and insights. It can also boost your website’s SEO when fresh content is added regularly. More importantly, it gives audiences something for nothing which is an important first step in building value into your brand.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the ways in which content marketing can benefit you rather than considering how it will benefit your customers. In order for content marketing to live up to its full potential, it needs to be of value to the consumer.

It needs to answer questions they have regularly or solve problems they are likely to encounter. It needs to furnish them with the unbiased information they need to make informed choices. If you think users are likely to scroll through a 1500-word article on how amazing you are, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

The good news is that the more your content resonates with users, the more key metrics will increase such as time on page, scroll depth, social sharing, and movement throughout your site. This increases the likelihood of customer conversion as they are actively reading and engaging with the content provided.

Build trust through social proof

Ultimately, even if consumers generally trust your brand, they’re likely to take anything you say about yourself with a grain of salt. They’re more likely to trust the word of their peers more than they trust the words that, when you strip marketing down to its bare bones, is trying to sell them something.

Leveraging social proof like user reviews, TrustPilot scores, expert testimonies, and social media comments can better influence consumer behaviour and inspire deeper and more meaningful trust in your brand. The more consumers trust your brand, the less likely they are to take a punt on one of your competitors. If you can demonstrate that you are better attuned to their feedback and their needs than your competitors, your growth will be built by their sustained loyalty.

Create advertising campaigns that speak their language

It’s entirely possible to create advertising copy that wows creative teams and executives alike… yet falls completely flat when it reaches the eyes of its intended audience. This is why it is so important to use your qualitative market research data throughout the development of the campaign rather than just its inception.

The more your advertising copy speaks to your target audience, without them feeling patronised or misunderstood, the more likely it is to resonate with them and generate value in your brand.

Use the language your customers use, not the language of the boardroom. Steer clear of jargon and ensure that it provides an accurate representation of how your customers communicate. If you can write copy that sounds like the voice of a peer rather than that of a team, you’re on to a winner. Make sure your audience see themselves accurately represented in your materials. Give them the feeling that you are talking directly to them as if you know them on a personal level.

Most importantly, your copy needs to give your potential customer the assurances that they need. If it pre-empts and addresses their anxieties and reservations while also ably demonstrating why your brand is of value to them and people like them, they’re more likely to not only embrace your business but recommend you to their peers.

Leverage social influencers your customers care about

Customers value the insights of their peers, which is why social proof is so important. Nonetheless, these aren’t necessarily the most effective insights to use in capturing the attention of your target audience. Social influencers are an increasingly important tool in communicating with your target market. In fact, 49% of consumers regularly depend on influencer recommendations.

Social influencer marketing is the new celebrity endorsement. Yet, while celebrity endorsement can lend your brand prestige and cool points, leveraging the social influencers your customers care about most is potentially more effective.

Neglect your prospects on social media at your peril

Your social media presence is an integral tool in disseminating your marketing message, but that cannot be all that you use it for. As excited as you may be to share your new campaign with your target market, it can be a waste of time if you neglect their responses to it. Immediately after the launch of a campaign, there may be more eyes on you than ever before. It is in your best interest to show that you respond in a timely, helpful, professional and friendly way to customer’s comments and queries. If you channel all of your efforts into a great campaign but new prospects can see that you’re deaf to your customers’ responses, this can diminish your campaign’s efficacy and potentially impede your growth.

Automation without irritation

Many digital campaigns make use of automation to move customers gently through the sales funnel. However, in an era where user privacy is an increasingly prominent and delicate issue, brands must walk the fine line between automation and irritation. Even setting aside legislative obstacles like the GDPR framework, there’s a delicate balance to be found.

You may want to send emails or push notifications to try and coax a user back to your online store, or to try and prevent them from abandoning their shopping cart but, come on too strong and you risk irritating customers and sending them running the other way.

The key lies in couching this kind of automated content in helpful terms. Instead of sending an email prompting a user to buy a viewed product with an urgent header like “Don’t miss out, buy today!” try something more customer focused like “Does * insert name of product* still meet your needs?”. This helps the potentially irksome prospect of automated notifications feel more valuable and less intrusive to the user. It also flips the focus from benefits to you, to being of service to the customer, and putting the customer’s needs and interests as the focus.

What is your customer experiencing when they come across your digital marketing? Do they feel heard, understood and taken care of?

Salesforce has released data indicating that 67% of consumers say that they are willing to pay more for a great experience. Giving your consumers a great experience and putting your customer first right from the start will have loyal customers knocking down your door and telling everyone about you.

In your digital marketing, as in all aspects of your business operations, you can never truly deliver an outstanding experience to your customers if you don’t put them first.

To get you started on developing a customer first marketing strategy, book in for a free discovery call.