Back in those glorious old Mad Men days, the golden age of marketing, the masses were like putty in the hands of a decent copywriter. You create content, be that the copy for a newspaper ad, the headline on a billboard, or the script of a radio spot, and you could sway millions to buy your product over the next guy's.
Boy, how things have changed!
People have smartened up when it comes to marketing. They don't respond well to spam in their mailboxes (physical or online) and they barely pay attention to paid advertising.
Marketing has become a lot of noise, and that means we content marketers have to dig deep and pull out some new tricks to get people's attention.
We have to fight to be relevant. And that means we can't just broadcast out SEO'd articles, casting a wide net. We have to get specific.
And that's where concepts like "engagement marketing" and "relationship marketing" become paramount.
So what do we mean by engagement and relationship marketing? How can we incorporate it into our content marketing strategy?
Engagement and Relationship Marketing Explained
At its core, engagement marketing is all about what we do with the data we collect about our customers and potential customers.
As technology develops, we are able to learn more than ever about our ideal audience. But what do we do with that information? How does that data inform our creative decisions?
When you combine insights from your audience with creative brainstorming, you can create powerful content that your audience will be drawn to.
Let's look at two examples of how engagement or relationship marketing can help your brand convert and produce happy customers.
Email List Segmentation
Over the past few years, we've been given amazing tools to help us better understand who exactly is subscribed to an email list. We started with demographic information, learning things like age and sex and geographic location. That data is great, but is it enough?
It turns out that segmenting our lists by age and sex isn't nearly as effective as we'd originally thought. Think of this example: Have you ever gone to a high school reunion? How much do you have in common with all your old classmates?
You're the same age and sex with your old high school pals, but now, you have different tastes, goals, jobs, and family situations. Your personalities have diverged greatly. Turns out, all you have in common is a shared past, something to reminisce about!
Now, imagine you and all your old classmates were on the same mailing list. Not a mailing list dedicated to remembering the past, but a list dedicated to a certain brand of product. How likely is it that the same email will resonate with everyone on that list?
Yeah, not likely.
Thankfully, we have more data about subscribers, so we can segment our email lists more wisely. Instead of just thinking about age and sex and geographic location, we can segment based on past engagement and behaviors.
"When behavioral attributes like purchasing traits, buying habits, and preferred engagement methods become part of your company's segmentation process, "says CMO Nation, "The effectiveness of your email campaigns rises exponentially."
So try segmenting your list by more factors than just age and sex. What about 40+ males that like football and are more likely to click through on emails that include snarky humor? What would your open rates be like if you used that level of segmentation?
More importantly, how will your audience feel when they get an email that seems to be just for them? Suddenly, your brand feels more personal, more caring, more relationship-based.
Better Targeting on Landing Pages
Your goal to build a stronger relationship with potential customers can start right from the beginning, from the first time they click a link in an ad to one of your brand's landing pages.
How many landing pages does your company have? One per product or service? How could adding more be beneficial?
We talked about segmentation with email lists, but can you do the same for ads and landing pages?
Let's use the above demographic as an example. You want to target adult males that like football and like snarky humor. So you create an ad campaign just for that audience. The ad copy and images contain snarky humor and football references out the wazoo.
Let's say someone from your target audience clicks on the link in that ad. What landing page should they see? If you link them over to a generic landing page for the product or service you're offering, they may feel duped and click away.
But you know what they like. They responded to the ad with football references and humor, right? Why not make a landing page with more of the same? And link that landing page to an email list that focuses on what that particular demographic likes.
In a way, you can use ads, landing pages, and email lists as a fully customizable communication platform for sub-sub-sub-segments in your target audience. That's how you can cut through the noise and get (and keep) people's attention.
The Power of Relationship Building
As Seth Godin likes to say, the job of marketers is to ruin things. We ruin direct mail by sending too much spam. We do the same with paid advertisements and email marketing and banners.
But there's one thing that will stand the test of time: building a true relationship with our audience. That's the power of engagement and relationship marketing!
As Forbes puts it: "Relationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement. It is designed to develop strong connections with customers by providing them with information directly suited to their needs and interests and by promoting open communication."
As technology develops, and as AI-powered tools become more common and useful, we're learning more about our audience than ever before. If we use that information for good, we'll build relationships that can last years, benefiting both our brands and the people our brands serve.