President of NOW Marketing Group. On a mission to return relationships to the forefront of business marketing.
From chatbots and Web3 to personalization and AI, relationship marketing is no longer just about the customer relationship; it’s also about understanding how your business relationships and processes will evolve. I’d be sharing a farce if I didn’t say I believe the most important thing a brand must focus on is relationship marketing in 2023 to grow organic, sustainable and profitable results. Brand culture, character and a real commitment to doing what’s right for customers—not just what’s easy—will be a true differentiator.
Only brands that are willing to focus from the inside-out to build the foundation for growth momentum will succeed—meaning marketing is only going to amplify what’s already at the core. We can’t buy community, reputation, loyalty or trust. It must be earned and grown through building deeper relationships—turning followers into real fans, clients into our most prominent advocates, team members into our biggest evangelists, and community into our most prominent collaborators.
To stay ahead of the curve, you need to understand what relationship marketing trends are emerging in 2023 and invest in technologies that help you build stronger connections with customers. Here are emerging marketing trends that savvy brands will focus on this year:
Personalization & Automation
Through technology, we can now quickly respond to customer preferences and capture attention through sophisticated targeting capabilities. This will power more personalized experiences and create an even more competitive landscape.
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Automation will be used to enhance efficiency, increase scalability, reduce costs and deliver faster results. Companies must invest heavily in data-driven marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) to acquire, convert and retain customers. This will allow brands to save time while continuing to keep the personalized element of their communications intact.
Brand culture directly impacts brand marketing. Brands will need to focus more on employee retention and, in turn, client loyalty as a goal and deliberate part of their overall marketing strategy. Internal marketing campaigns should focus on growing culture, consistency and company competency.
Externally, brands will also need to look into building loyalty through direct communication channels via conversational marketing. This includes dark social initiatives, leveraging nano-influencers and crowdsourcing.
Dark social describes the invisible shares and conversations that happen on messenger apps, email and text. It’s what people are saying to and about your brand in private online communities.
While these communications are nearly impossible to track in analytics because they are happening in private channels, dark social is extremely important and influential because it shapes people’s perceptions of your brand.
Dark social channels such as Messenger, Text, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram are important tools for connecting with customers. They enable more personalized conversations and allow brands to build trust and loyalty while providing an immersive experience.
Dark social also offers an excellent opportunity for businesses to gain valuable insights into customer behaviors and preferences, allowing us to tailor marketing messages to our target audiences.
Through dark social, businesses can create highly targeted campaigns explicitly tailored to a customer’s needs, leading to better conversions and higher ROI. These campaigns are created as a direct result of feedback shared through these channels.
Nano-Influencers for Micro-Targeting
Companies will increasingly leverage nano-influencers to reach niche target markets. Nano-influencers have a smaller but more engaged following and can effectively micro-target marketing campaigns to achieve better results.
The use of data analytics will be essential for success. To gather insights on customer behavior and preferences, allowing us to better anticipate what our customers want, brands should consider crowdsourcing ideas from customers via platforms like Reddit.
Live Video Selling
Live video selling on Amazon, social media channels and new built-in tools will continue to rise—especially with studies showing that consumers prefer video when learning about a product/service.
Live video is an amazing place to show up authentically and consistently to showcase your expertise and your brand’s personality.
Because of the unfiltered and authentic nature of live video, it is the perfect type of content to enhance customer relationships because you’re able to answer questions and solve problems for your audience in real time.
A Focus On The Customer Experience
We need to develop a deeper understanding of our customers’ emotions, needs and wants by tapping into customer data and analytics. We anticipate an evolution in digital marketing, which will be driven by technology and utility, as well as a sharper focus on the customer experience.
Organic content will be even more critical, as many customers are becoming increasingly wary of intrusive advertisements and spam emails. Companies must create engaging, high-value content that resonates with their target audience to capture attention and build trust.
A Growing Need For Brand Strategists
We must become agile and focus on seizing opportunities to reach customers with the right message at the right time. We must forecast and sense before we seize all the rapid changes around us. We must respond quickly to changing customer trends and interests. Companies will need an effective and responsive brand marketing strategist to lead all of these moving parts.
Relationship marketing will remain an essential part of your strategy. Investing in relationship marketing now will ensure that your customers know you, trust you and feel comfortable making purchases from your business. We must be prepared to offer a customer experience beyond product and service delivery. Focus on being more compassionate and empathetic in your approach to connecting with customers.
Marketing has evolved to us creating an authentic brand manifesto and providing an immersive, personalized customer journey beyond just product promotion, beginning with our focus on developing a solid company culture rooted in trust and fostered through collaboration. This is the foundation for a successful online marketing strategy in 2023.
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Author: Jessika Phillips, Forbes Councils Member