6 Tips For Optimizing Your Personalized Marketing Efforts

The best marketing campaigns are tailored to match exactly what a customer or client is looking for. Personalizing your marketing communications is the best way to let a customer know they matter and that you’re the perfect fit for their needs. However, it can take time and effort to adapt your messaging to each individual buyer.

6 Personalized Marketing Tactics

To ensure you are optimizing your personalized marketing efforts, we asked members of Ad Age Collective how they make the customer experience feel more meaningful without taking up too much time. Follow their advice to create genuine, tailored communications at scale.

1. Have reliable creative asset templates.

Have a creative asset that can be easily edited for different personas or marketing channels by swapping out key images or messaging, but keep the template the same for the most efficient use of time and resources. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

2. Choose the right technology.

The key to optimizing your marketing efforts is letting your tech stack do the heavy lifting. As marketers, our job is to engage buyers with killer content and CTAs, not to spend our time researching who they are and what they care about. By letting your platform uncover the critical data you need to know, you can focus your time on delivering a meaningful, ultra-personalized experience. – Latane Conant, 6sense

3. Pick your targets carefully.

The more precisely you define your targets for personalized marketing, the more time and money they warrant. In certain account-based marketing strategies, individual targets may be worth hundreds of dollars and hours of time each. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

4. Tap into emotional insights.

So often we think about segmenting our customer population to develop targets. We think about where they live, what they are interested in — but the reality is that we are not connecting the emotional insights to those profiles that drive behavior change. Personalization comes from leveraging emotional insights in each segment that are translated by each person individually. – Kristen Anna Roeckle, Concentric Health Experience

5. Leverage artificial intelligence.

AI now enables marketing tools to analyze and understand user preferences better. It’s helpful to make AI a part of your marketing research efforts by using more AI marketing tools. You’ll be able to provide personalized content without having to spend too much time doing the research. Instead, you can focus on supporting your customers and driving conversions. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

6. Understand the limits of personalization.

With the abundance of data, we often feel the need to over-personalize our marketing. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Instead, take a step back to ask if your audience even wants that level of personalization. Sometimes you can save a lot of time and effort by recognizing that your audience is content with something as simple as their name in an email. Anything more is creepy! – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8 Key B2B Marketing Steps To Take That May Differ From B2C

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing focuses on directly aiming product advertising to other companies. It’s a significantly different process than business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing. While on the surface, they may seem the same, the fact remains that there are fundamental differences between both marketing methodologies. A company that focuses on a business clientele will go about creating buzz and attracting customers differently than those who market to individual consumers.

B2B or B2C

Some marketing principles spread across both of the fields. Both B2B and B2C marketers have to recognize their consumers as individuals and seek to provide value to them through their delivery of products and services. However, several principles are unique to B2B as compared to B2C. Elements such as scale, tone and the type of information necessary for the client to make a decision differ between the two.

These eight professionals from Ad Age Collective are well-versed in what the difference steps are between B2B and B2C campaigns. Here, they try to explain those differences, and why they are so fundamental for consideration when comparing B2B to B2C marketing efforts.

1. Develop a long-term strategy.

B2B is a long-term strategy, providing solutions for an exponential increase in KPIs and aiming to reduce friction and function seamlessly as an integral part of your strategy. B2C marketing is more immediate, with short-term results and measurements. It focuses on larger audiences and the constantly changing behavior. It is more experiential and emphasizes instant rewarding in the short term. – Oz Etzioni, Clinch

2. Think about the multiple audience layers.

It’s more what I would do for B2C that helps tackle B2B. B2B marketing is all about the customers of the client. But ultimately, the customers either sell to consumers, or are consumers themselves. So think about the multiple layers of audiences when crafting a marketing plan. Always look at how what you do impacts the end consumer, and how what is happening in their life can impact business. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

3. Focus on the channel above all.

The biggest difference between B2B and B2C marketing is the critical choice of platform and message distribution for B2B marketing. Channel is perhaps the most important marketing mix decision: where, when and how to reach and influence key decision-makers. Narrowing these choices to be as close to the decision-maker and the decision-making moment as possible is the biggest key to B2B success. – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

4. Consider the client’s product and/or service goals.

For a B2B campaign, you have to remember you’re speaking to a business or small business owner who needs to have a product or service that will enhance their operation or help generate substantial leads for their company at a larger scope. A B2C campaign focuses on an individual product or service that helps enhance the individuals’ needs, so it typically has a more singular focus. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Identify the right avenues for engagement.

These days, B2B has a lot in common with B2C. In both, you have to surprise and emotionally engage a human being with the best argument for making an expensive choice. The main difference is how to surround that human being with buzz and peer recommendation — the avenues for gaining that buzz in the consumer arena may be more diverse, but B2B targets are as social and screen-immersed as anyone. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

6. Take into account expectations across a team.

The B2B buyer is a buying team where around 10 people make the final decision. Each of these buyers have consumer-grade expectations for an omnichannel, personalized experience. Not to mention, sales cycles can be over a year and things get complex fast. This is why AI is critical — no human can take in intent signals across channels and connect them to buying teams to orchestrate great experiences. – Latane Conant, 6sense

7. Incorporate evidence and statistics.

B2C can use tactics of emotional appeals extremely effectively. While B2B can also use these same tactics to build rapport, it isn’t enough. B2B clients are seeking a demonstrable result that isn’t always applicable in B2C. It might be ROI, revenue growth or an increased subscriber count — regardless, your messaging needs to incorporate proven evidence and statistics to back up your claims. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8. Don’t be afraid to add more technical details.

When it comes to B2B marketing, I would add more technical details than I would in B2C marketing. B2B customers care about getting the right product specifications for their needs and helpful customer service, whereas B2C customers care about the end result. I would approach B2B marketing with more data and facts due to these differences. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

11 Things To Avoid If You Want To Maintain Consistent Branding

Most consumers don’t stick to one marketing channel. It’s very likely that a consumer that follows your brand’s account on Facebook also does so on Twitter, Instagram or several other social media channels. Mass marketing like billboards or radio and TV ads also impact these same consumers.

AdAge

A company’s brand is its promise to the customer, but consumers might be confused if the message they get from a brand has mixed signals. So when someone sees a different message or tone in one advertising channel for a brand is distinctly different from another advertising channel for the same brand, it creates a disconnect. Consistent branding is a vital method of establishing the company’s face and tone, which are essential to engaging the right demographic. Consistent branding is such a necessary foundation for a company’s brand marketing that introducing inconsistency between marketing channels can be disastrous for the company’s customer engagement.

Eleven entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective have raised their brands to prominence over the years, and they are well aware of the things that a company should avoid if it wants to maintain consistent brand messaging. We consulted them about some of the most troubling things to avoid — here’s what they had to say.

1. Setting it and forgetting it

Too often, companies assume that digital branding is a one-time investment. They are eager to be visible across the web but forget about the commitment they are making to uphold their brand value online. To keep a brand fresh and consistent across channels, companies need to be constantly updating their digital content to reflect seasonal deals, promotions and marketing initiatives. – John Ghiorso, Orca Pacific

2. Keeping brand-related information undocumented

When it comes to branding, details matter. A tiny inconsistency can become glaring to your audience. A lack of consistency can create a poor impression. It’s important to document exactly what hex color code, font type or aesthetics you use, and where you use them also matters. Keeping your brand appearance consistent makes them recognizable to customers and builds a professional image. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Putting on an act

People want to buy from people — and how buyers view your brand is a huge factor in how they feel about your product. Steer clear of the false advertising and keep it real. Using an authentic voice across all platforms and allowing buyers to see the real you is the best way to build a true connection with your audience and deliver a better all-around experience with your brand. – Latane Conant, 6sense

4. Rushing to publish content

Content marketing was king in 2019, and likely to also be very important in 2020. In the mad rush to pump out as much content as possible, companies can create fragmentation in their message as different content writers and designers produce material of varying quality. It might take a little longer to publish, but be sure to appoint an overseer who ensures every piece is consistent with the brand. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Placing identical creative across all platforms

If there’s one mistake I see more than any other, it’s when brands treat social platforms like ad units, placing identical creative across places where platform users expect unique things from that platform. Different platforms have different social use cultures. Be consistent in your principles and story, but execute with authentic sensitivity to each platform’s culture. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

6. Using too much stock photography

It’s impossible to create a consistent brand narrative if you rely excessively on stock imagery. Every platform is becoming more visual in nature, and, like it or not, the photos, graphics and videos you share say as much about who you are as your tone and choice of words. When you use too much stock imagery, you water down your visual narrative and risk looking like every other company out there. – Todd Morgano, Falls

7. Confusing consistency with replication

Never duplicate your content from platform to platform. Otherwise you’ll just burn people out and they won’t care. A lot of brands confuse consistency with replication. It’s not about copying your look and feel across platforms. Remember that consistency is driven by point of view — by tone of voice, by your personality and by the stance you take in the world. – Marc Landsberg, SOCIALDEVIANT

8. Straying too far from the familiar

Changing your style guide to be completely different, whether it’s a new color scheme or unrecognizable and unconnected images, will degrade the brand equity you have built on other platforms. Content should be very specific and personalized for different formats, but straying too far from the main brand will lose the customers’ association with the mother ship and all that has been invested in it. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

9. Assuming everyone ‘gets’ the brand

With the breadth of platforms and tactics available to marketers — media, social, website, email, etc. — we often have diverse experts managing each tactic independently. Alignment is critical. If brands leave individuals on islands and don’t architect each tactic’s role in building the brand story, platform experts may drive their own agendas rather than contribute to a cohesive brand story. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

10. Treating platforms as silos

People jump from device to device, and have hundreds of digital touch points with brands. To make sure messages are consistent across all of them, brands cannot treat the devices and channels as isolated campaigns. Brands can leverage advanced analytics, such as machine learning, to connect these touch points together and better understand their customers, leading to a true omnichannel campaign. – Kevin Dean, Experian

11. Using multiple providers

Companies shouldn’t use multiple providers. Using one provider per communication channel creates a disconnect, along with chaotic data and ad experiences. Having one omnichannel partner to keep it branded and relevant to the consumers on all channels is important to keep branding consistent across all platforms. – Oz Etzioni, Clinch

8 Ways Marketers Should Utilize Tech To Improve The Online User Experience

Technology has enhanced the customer experience quite a bit, with many companies employing the use of artificial intelligence agents for customer service roles. However, despite embracing technology for their customer service needs, many businesses are not fully using tech to improve the way customers engage online.

8 Ways for a better customer experience

Modern business centers on customer-website interaction. Customers want to feel as though they are welcome to your website and that their business matters to you. The customization and personalization of a site to suit a customer’s needs makes them feel valued. As marketers know, customers that feel valued provide repeat business. If you want to retain these customers successfully, your website must put user experience first.

Luckily, these eight entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective know what it takes to create a successful user experience. User experience (also known as UX) and UX design have become key to how companies interact with their target demographic. Below, these experts share their best advice for companies looking to leverage tech to improve their website’s UX and build strong customer loyalty.

1. Design your website around your why.

A website is a purposeful entry point for information and action. Understanding why you need a website is essential to delivering on your promise. Once you prioritize needs by the target groups visiting the site, only then can tech play a big role in making the visitor’s journey faster and distraction-free, helping them to get to their desired goals. Tech also plays a big role for repeat visitors and repeat tasks. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

2. Keep content relevant to customer needs.

When a customer lands on your website, use tech algorithms to have them land on content and images that they were initially searching for. That way, it is immediately relevant to their needs and the best possible brand experience. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

3. Focus on personalization.

Your on-site experience should not be the same for everyone who shows up. Many software vendors will enable you to customize your site based on where visitors are arriving from, whether or not they’ve been to your site before, what visitors did the last time they were on your site, whether or not they are existing customers, etc. You can even test different versions of your site simultaneously. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

4. Leverage artificial intelligence tools.

As traditional marketing tactics have become less effective, sales and marketing teams are adopting new AI-powered tools to deliver a superior customer experience. By identifying which accounts are visiting your site and uncovering critical insights about them, AI allows you to deliver relevant messages with chatbots or custom content streams based on what’s actually important to every visitor. – Latane Conant, 6sense

5. Use chatbots to answer simple queries.

Very often, people visit websites to get simple questions answered. Adding chatbots to your site can help visitors by giving them the right information almost instantly. This is especially helpful where they need information that can be extracted from a database. You enhance the customer experience by providing customers with accurate information fast. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

6. Don’t take advantage of your customer’s time.

If they visit your website, don’t first make them put in an email for your newsletter or close a pop-up. If you ask for their feedback on their experience or Net Promoter Score, follow up with what you’ll do to make it better for them. Data is currency, and consumers increasingly know that. Give them something of value in return for their attention and information, be it more personalization or fixing a problem. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

7. Ensure two-way communication.

Any tech that you utilize on your website needs to facilitate two-way communication with a customer. Whether using AI, customer feedback or  the ability to aggregate customer data, at the heart of your learning and your communication has to be an authentic human connection. When a customer engages with you on your website, this needs to be front and center. – Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command

8. Pre-fill customer data.

Forms are the bane of anyone’s existence. The constant drudgery of having to repeatedly fill out forms creates friction and a bad customer experience. Instead, pre-fill information where possible (accompanied by a “welcome back” message) and only ask for information that is absolutely essential. The less burden you place on your customer, the more they will appreciate you making their life easier. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

7 Essential Lessons To Learn From Valentine’s Day Marketing Efforts

Valentine’s Day is a big deal for marketing firms. The holiday’s commercial slant has made it ideal for developing marketing campaigns around happy couples, gifts and the air of romance that’s all around. However, there are other, perhaps less obvious, lessons to be learned from these marketing efforts and audience responses that are critical to success during this season of love—and any time of the year. The most successful companies know how to leverage these techniques to make their customer experience truly exceptional, so what better strategy than to learn from those who have achieved marketing success with the holiday already?

Valentine's Day Marketing

These professionals from Ad Age Collective share a few valuable lessons derived from Valentine’s Day marketing efforts, and explain why these lessons are essential for other businesses hoping to achieve success.

1. Align communication with compelling motivation.

Valentine’s Day marketing by dating networks reminds us how important it is to align communications with the motivations compelling each of us. From leveraging humor to the power of love, the period between the New Year (when many of us make resolutions for improvement) and Valentine’s Day becomes a six-week marketing strategy sprint in which the most creative and compelling wins. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

2. Create opportunities to share the love.

Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love, and the brands breaking through are those who are focused on that context. The Body Shop is asking people to blow a kiss to their friends on Instagram and tag it with #sendingakiss. Nina Ricci is asking its fans to post pictures of them with their BFF to Instagram and use the hashtag #MyBestValentine. These efforts not only engage their audience, but also leverage their audience to recruit new members. Brands able to identify the context of the moment and work with their audience to create experiences to fulfill those needs don’t just break through, they grow. – Mathew Sweezey, Salesforce

3. Aim to be what they need at the right time and place.

Consumers have very specific and, usually, immediate needs on Valentine’s Day or any major holiday. Take those lessons to show that a brand should fulfill a very specific need in a consumer’s life and be there for them at the right time and place. An omnichannel and targeted strategy is key here. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

4. Break the mold and disrupt yourself.

Valentine’s Day seemed to be unchangeable. The roses, the chocolates, the sappy couples—and the terrible movies. Then Deadpool came along and changed all that. Now brands look to subvert expectations when Valentine’s rolls around, as all businesses should do. Even if you think your industry is stable, it could change in a flash, so don’t be afraid to disrupt yourself before someone else does! – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Connect with your customers through experiences.

Branding has evolved from words and pictures to experiences, so holidays present a prime opportunity for companies to connect with their customers. In particular, Valentine’s Day is a special moment, an emotional experience, in which companies can engage and connect with their customers—specifically with custom-named campaigns that connect their brand with the holiday and the emotions of the day. Dunkin’ has created both “Dunkin Love” and Dunkintines to engage customers during their Valentine gift giving. Pizza Hut created a contest using #LastMinuteLovers and Uber had #RomanceOnDemand. All of these brands, and many others, use specific campaigns with clever names and catchphrases to engage their customers in the moment that’s authentic to their brand, and aligned with the experience of Valentine’s Day. – Aaron Hall, Siegel+Gale

6. Ensure your audience ‘feels’ your brand.

Powerful brands win. Branding is powerful, period. It’s what people hear, see, think, and feel—and the impressions that are formed as a result of their experiences with your product/service or business as a whole. Hearts and the colors red and pink make us think of (and feel) Valentine’s Day, even if it’s December. Businesses that have invested the time and intent in cultivating and positioning their brand will reap the benefits. It’s never too late to get this right, to go back to the drawing board even after years in operation and refresh your brand, beginning with the internal question, “What is our brand, now?” – Caryn Anderson, Operation HOPE

7. Give customers the chance to share their stories.

Yes, Valentine’s Day is about marketing traditional products and services, but it is also an opportunity to engage with our customers and allow each to tell their story—what is most important to them. We love hearing their unique stories, from their unique perspectives. From those who are home, to those deployed and away from loved ones, it reminds us what is most important! – Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command

9 Best Practices For A Successful Video Marketing Campaign

Video is one of today’s most popular forms of content marketing. Engaging visuals are often more effective than the written word, so it’s no surprise that brands are using video to attract consumers. It can also yield a major ROI for a business — as long as it’s done right.

Video Marketing Campaign

If you’re interested in using video as part of your marketing strategy, follow these recommended best practices from the members of Ad Age Collective. Their tips can help you get started on a successful video marketing campaign.

1. Offer value first.

Make sure the video is interesting in style and look. Make sure you are telling a story visually, but remember to keep it short and give. Don’t just take and sell. Offer your followers something in return for their time. Video is super impactful and works. You will see more of it in 2020. – Shana Starr, Bastion Elevate

2. Make sure it passes the silent movie test.

Without the sound on, would the first five seconds of your video compel someone to watch the full-length version? That’s the test you should run your videos through before posting. People have short attention spans, and they most often see the first five seconds of your video playing with the sound off, whatever device they’re on. So treat the first frames of your video like it’s a silent movie. – Todd Morgano, Falls Communications

3. Make it mobile-friendly.

Remember the mobile-first mantra when producing video. If you’ve produced an action feature for a 40-inch screen, that’s just one version. Make sure you have a mobile version that can achieve impact in a four-inch square with no volume (which might require a few keywords on screen). – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

4. Don’t sound too scripted.

Video, despite its ROI, is a costly investment for any business. With so much at stake, it’s tempting to control every single part of the process, but this must be avoided. If you script every part, it sounds — surprise surprise — scripted! Instead, outline the points you want to hit and focus on having a conversation with the talent to yield those moments of raw emotion that only video can capture. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Incorporate user-generated content.

Every day, people are creating amazing videos around your brand and sharing on social media. Ask individuals for permission to use this content in your video marketing. Visit Indy is one brand that is now running Facebook video ads made entirely from UGC video content sourced from locals and visitors. The result? Higher click-through rates and return on advertising spend because the content is more compelling and authentic to viewers. – Amrita Gurney, CrowdRiff

6. Customize your creative to the social platform.

Strong ROI on video advertising is closely tied to having compelling creative aligned to each individual platform and corresponding audience. You shouldn’t use creative for Facebook and Instagram interchangeably with YouTube, and you certainly shouldn’t just repurpose a TV spot. Video advertising offers the opportunity to tell a compelling story — invest in making that story great. – Adam Edwards, Metric Theory

7. Convey a clear, customer-focused message.

Make your videos count by ensuring your message is clear. In every single video, make sure the consumer knows how the brand will positively impact their life and why they need it. Pretty images only work if it’s worth their time, so make sure the imagery has a clear message that can provide a direct impact on the consumer and, therefore, generates ROI for the brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

8. Lead the viewer to an action.

When you create a video, it’s important to lead the viewer into completing an activity that helps your business and them. Create a call to action, offer a discount or engage with them in some way. Asking your viewers to take action can lead to an increase in subscribers, your engagement rate and even conversions. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

9. Find an authentic and compelling voice.

The biggest change in the way video messaging was done last century versus this one is the end of “The Authoritative Voice.” The story-delivering pros, actors and voice talent have lost out to voices that seem like one’s peers. They still need to be great storytellers and compelling characters, but their authenticity matters far more than their authoritative polish. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

6 Exciting Publishing Trends Ad Professionals Want To See In 2020

It’s a new year and decade, and experts across all industries are waiting to see if their predictions for 2020 trends will come to fruition. The digital publishing landscape is no exception — professionals in advertising and media have a lot of ideas about what’s coming this year. What’s more, these predicted trends have the potential to leave a significant impact on marketers and content creators.

Six Publishing Trends for 2020

To give you a better idea of what may lie ahead in the content publishing world, we asked the members of Ad Age Collective about the trends they hope to see this year. From increased live video to more interactive content, keep an eye on your digital feeds for these six things.

1. Live video surpassing recorded video

2019 was the year companies really dove deep into video. The problem? A tidal wave of corporatized videos that all sounded the same — clean in appearance, but stale in content. In 2020, recorded video will decline as consumers become suspicious of overly polished videos. Instead, companies will turn to live video as a medium to publish content and engage consumers in a more authentic way. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

2. Quality over quantity

I keep wondering when we’re going to find the end of the internet or when the servers are going to say, “drive full.” I hope 2020 will be the year of less content and more substance. Write excellent stories once a month or quarter instead of “producing content” weekly. Don’t produce to occupy an audience; select one amazing idea and move them to action. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

3. More interactive content

Interactive content lets you engage with customers in a more meaningful way. Customers participate in creating content instead of just consuming it. More interactions will help us understand customers better and connect with them, which will help businesses provide better services and more helpful products. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

4. Removing ‘likes’

The testing of removing “likes” from social media would be a game-changer in the industry. Not only would it remove some of the negative impacts affecting society, but it would also even out the influencer market so only true influencers would work and those with fictional followers would go by the wayside. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

5. Consistent monetization models for traffic

This year is going to expand the trend of publishers looking for ways to monetize their traffic. Publishers have toyed with models such as affiliate revenue and product development, with each having its pluses and minuses. 2020 will be the year where publishers finally figure out some consistent methods of monetizing their traffic. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE

6. Scale of attention

Unprecedented consumer athleticism with devices and distribution has transformed an advertiser’s customer base into a full population of relentless video content editors and publishers. Anyone can sort through a sea of sameness in seconds to get to where their video attention is placed on “hold.” The great news is that the video content being consumed and shared is like a food group to consumers. Look for the individual stories, characters and events that are being “eaten” in real scale (in millions) by real consumers and make the most of technology tools to reach the appropriate audiences for your brand. Scale of attention will differentiate great content in 2020, in real-time, capturing everybody’s appetite. – Sean Cunningham, VAB

7 Strategies For Gaining Better Customer Data

Your quality of engagement with customers hinges on how useful your customer data is. With deep insight into customer behaviors and thinking processes, you can make an impact on your core consumer base. However, getting this customer data isn’t as easy as it initially seems. The accuracy of data depends on how the business intends to collect it. The methodology shouldn’t be invasive and should encourage the consumer to trust the company with their data. That trust is built on a rapport that the brand needs to establish with its customers over time.

7 Steps for consumer data

With better customer data, the insights that you generate to connect with your consumers would be more substantial. You’ll find that your marketing efforts have more direction and engagement with the audience. However, the success of these efforts still depends heavily on the quality of data used to obtain those insights. The principle of “Garbage In, Garbage Out” is as true for data analysis as it is for any other technical field.

The entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective are well-versed in how good customer data can impact their business’s efforts in marketing, so we asked them their secrets when it comes to wrangling higher quality data from their consumers.

1. Start with the source.

More accurate customer data needs to start with the source. Assign the individual or the demographic cluster a unique customer ID. You can then input various strategies across different platforms, changing the creative, media and messaging, but targeting the same customer or demographic to see which elements of the campaign strategy are more effective and deliver the highest ROI. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Go after the ‘why,’ not just the ‘what.’

Tons of data is available on what customers do, both at your brand and away. That data does not tell us why they do it. Accurate data comes from identifying insights into the core of a customer and unlocking the drivers of behavior. That insight makes it easy to connect with customers and make action inevitable. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Seek noninvasive, regular feedback.

The key to gaining new customers is understanding your existing ones. Tools like Retently allow regular customer data to be gathered without overburdening clients. Doing this will allow you to pick up on trends — similar pain points that caused clients to choose your business or best aspects of working with your business, all of which can be used for more targeted campaigns to attract new leads. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Set up loyalty programs.

They are not new, but they have the strong benefit of being “opt-in” in a privacy-sensitive world. They also offer an explicit exchange of value, i.e. your company provides loyalty currency in exchange for certain actions or information from your customers. Sometimes, tried and true is just that. If you are seeking passive data collection, talk to companies that aggregate mobile data. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. Connect data with other digital and offline points.

Brands rely on first-party data to understand customers, but it only tells half the story. It’s important for brands to connect data with other digital and offline data points. If brands can take the data available to them and connect it using innovative technology, such as AI and ML, they can achieve the elusive single customer view. That leads to more relevant messages and effective campaigns. – Kevin Dean, Experian

6. Say goodbye to siloed point solutions.

Today, the challenge is that each function of the revenue team has its own suite of applications. With disparate data, integration gaps and lack of tight coordination, you can kiss your dreams of accurate insights goodbye. To uncover, orchestrate and utilize valuable buyer data, the entire revenue team needs to utilize one cohesive account-based platform with AI and big data built into the core. – Latane Conant, 6sense

7. Be careful how you define your competitive arena.

Marketers tend to envision zero-sum games within product categories, and design research to report within that arena; meanwhile, customers may be shifting behavior to buy outside your defined arena. Design research that lets you discover if your true competition is entirely off your radar. Who gets a bigger slice of the pie doesn’t mean much if your customers have switched to cake. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

8 Top Tips To Consider When Crafting A Compelling Brand Story

A brand is a promise that a business makes to its customers. You can find this definition littered across the internet, but it doesn’t tell you exactly what that promise should be. Brand promises are crafted through their stories. Brand stories try to communicate the brand’s worth to consumers in a noninvasive way, which allows the potential buyer to connect and form a relationship with the brand. Today, many brands see the brand story as a way to humanize their corporate face so that consumers feel more comfortable with them.

Brand Story

Building a brand story requires a professional to focus on the audience rather than the product. The company already knows in great detail what the product does and how it benefits the consumer. The brand story tries to communicate that to the buyer, while at the same time making the story focus on the customer. The process of changing a brand story from a business-centric model to a consumer-centric model requires a lot of skill.

These professionals from Ad Age Collective have learned how to present the brand story best to engage customers and build a rapport. We asked them what things a company should be mindful of when developing their brand story into a compelling narrative. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Be authentic and consistent.

Be authentic, period. A majority of consumers, especially the younger generations, demand it as they want to feel inspired, to have an honest connection and be part of a like-minded community. Avoid inconsistencies between your image of the brand and its reality, as it will have a material impact on brand perception and equity. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media

2. Think more about hearing it than saying it.

You want your brand story to say certain things about your company and you are going to put a lot of thought into that. Put a similar amount of energy into understanding how your target personas are going to hear the story and the emotions that it will elicit. The recent Peloton ad that raised some controversy is an example of a story that was heard differently by some than was anticipated. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

3. Be honest about who you are.

Another way of putting it is to be genuine. Your brand should be an extension of the honest truth about who you are, what you stand for and your reason for being. And it should connect logically and emotionally with a need or value you and your constituents share. – Todd Morgano, Falls Communications

4. Humanize the brand.

A brand needs to have a personality and something to resonate with. If you can give your brand innate human characteristics that people can relate to, they will feel more drawn to the brand naturally without even knowing why it is so compelling. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Find balance between what matters and what’s true.

A compelling brand story must converge on the epicenter of three components: It must be culturally relevant, emotionally compelling and built on something true to the brand and organization. Brands must balance stories that matter with their ability to be true to the story. -Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. Elicit an emotional response.

A product doesn’t become a brand until it is connected with feelings, experiences, memories or utility in a person’s mind. A brand is an emotional connection built over time to which consumers default, especially when choosing among products with similar attributes. Your brand story must elicit emotion and be sustainable to create consumer connections that withstand the test of time. -Sean Cunningham, VAB

7. Know your brand’s natural persona.

Every brand has its own natural persona. Authenticity comes from knowing the persona clearly, being consistent and comfortable with it. Connecting to why a brand exists adds purpose that resonates with the customer emotions. The blending of authenticity and purposefulness creates long-term feeling equity, which is essential for meaningful connection. In the end, we are all in the feeling business. -Arjun Sen, ZenMango

8. Be relatable and purpose-driven.

It may be overused, but starting with the “why” is the foundation of a compelling brand story. No one cares about your products, what they do or what you’re selling until they care about you! A brand story that has a strong “why” will always win, because people like to do business with those that share their innate values. The more relatable you are, the more people will care. – Patrick Ward,Rootstrap

5 Steps To Creating The Perfect Thank You Page For Your Website

People enjoy it when others appreciate them. This little fact has resulted in a lot of companies doing customer appreciation campaigns that have attracted record amounts of leads. In an online setting, a thank you page is a perfect example of showing appreciation to clients. Yet, despite the usefulness of this recognition, many companies simply overlook the inclusion of a thank you page, much to their detriment. Businesses need to let consumers know how much they value their business.

Perfect Thank You Page

In fact, a thank you page should form the core of a business’s post-conversion strategy. Customer engagement and satisfaction are crucial metrics here, and a well-designed thank you page might be able to sway a consumer to become a return customer. But what are the essential elements of a thank you page? What are the things that make this page stand out to a consumer and draw them in to buy from the company again?

These professionals from Ad Age Collective have experience with great customer service and offer their advice on the critical elements of a thank you page and how to incorporate them into a website design if companies want to retain happy customers.

1. Reflect the brand tone and respect the relationship.

There is never a more powerful moment in the customer life cycle than in the time when you get to show appreciation for their business. The thank you page (or any “thank you” moment) should reflect both the brand’s tonality, but also respect the relationship. Brands should recognize and customize a first-time purchase differently than extreme loyalty. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

2. Personalize it to reflect each client’s experience.

A thank you page is often overlooked in the post-conversion strategy. But it can do as much harm as good if not done right. The page should be personalized, reflective of the consumer’s experience and ideally have a simple call to action to bring that person back. If the experience has been negative, give them a place to raise the issue. A misplaced “thank you” can be the last time you see them. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

3. Record a thank you video.

Many businesses struggle to build genuine relationships with their customers. An easy way to overcome this challenge is to record a thank you video as the company owner and place it on the thank you page. This works because it puts a face to a name, and it’s easier to build relationships with people. Also, it shows that you truly care about every customer, which separates you from the competition. – Maxwell Finn, Unicorn Innovations

4. Give them some value straight up.

Fatigue from filling out forms or signing a contract is no joke. When a customer completes this, it isn’t enough to merely say “thank you” — show how much they mean to your business by giving them some value. Chances are, if you’ve onboarded them, you know some of their business challenges. Give them a free e-book or tips for quick wins that could help them address some of those challenges now. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Convey trustworthiness and likeability.

A creative way of saying “thank you,” gifting or following up has an art to it. While the best campaigns are managed by a large strategic campaign team, clients ultimately want to work with people they like and trust. Showing your thank you strategy is a good way of getting insight into how a potential client would feel when they become an actual client. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising