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3 takeaways from #digitalks: How to connect and drive social to sales

We attended Firebrand Talent’s recent #digitalks event where international business leader and Digivizer cofounder Emma Lo Russo presented the seminar ‘Unlocking the power of social data: Learn how to connect and drive social to sales’.

Lo Russo spoke about how digital and social media now represent real-time opportunities, giving marketers signs and triggers for engaging customers.

Importantly, people are using social media to research brands when considering a purchase, and are increasingly trusting the people they follow on these platforms for recommendations rather than the brands themselves.

Here are three key takeaways from the #digitalks seminar that are worth knowing about:

1. Marketing has not changed but the customer has

At its core, the principals of marketing have not changed in 20 years – the elements of acquisition, cross-sell, retention and loyalty still form the basis for marketing activities.

Lo Russo said marketers still need to be asking themselves how they can target the right offer, to the right customer, at the right time, through the right channel, using the right message. This tactic will allow marketers and businesses to maximise the return from their marketing budget.

While the essentials of marketing have not changed, the customer has, especially with the rise of digital channels.

And when it comes to social media, customers are leaving a large digital footprint every time they like, follow, comment and share.

Often, when customers are interested in a brand, they will seek it out on social media platforms to see if the brand cares about them.

“You must know your customer better than anyone else and know how they are feeling and behaving in real time,” Lo Russo said.

As such, marketing has to adapt to the ways customers are accessing, absorbing and interpreting brand messages.

2. Branded content has to be genuine

Brands have become the new publishers and the best ones remain unbranded, said Lo Russo.

Marketers now, more than ever, need to put themselves in their customer’s shoes and ask, “Why would I care? Why should I care?”

Equally, a brand needs to have valuable content available online so they can reach customers in the moments that matter.

Knowing the best moment to serve relevant content to an audience, and knowing what that content should be, is critical.

Lo Russo said those ‘moments’ are defined in a number of ways, including:

  • During a conversation taking place on the customer’s terms, not the brand’s
  • Through content that informs, educates or entertains, rather than sells
  • Knowing when to move the conversation forward, through content, to bring a customer closer to a brand
  • Choosing the right moment for influencers to share branded information and endorsements.

If a brand’s content is not in front of customers, even while they’re shopping in the physical store, the brand loses the chance to connect.

It all comes down to knowing your customer intimately – their actions online, including what they like and interact with on social media, how they move through your website, and how they access your brand via a smartphone, all demonstrate clues about a customer’s intentions, connections, needs and preferences.

Delivering content that is helpful to customers will not only allow a brand to build trust with its audience, it will also demonstrate the value a brand can offer.

“By delivering what matters to people, you (brands) earn permission to market to them,” said Lo Russo.

Emma Lo Russo speaks about the power of influencer marketing at #digitalks

Emma Lo Russo speaks about the power of influencer marketing at #digitalks

3. Influencer marketing is essential

Influencer marketing is no longer an option, it’s essential, said Lo Russo.

With the rise of online personalities (known as influencers) such as bloggers, YouTube stars and Twitch streamers, customers are increasingly turning to people as trusted sources for brand recommendations.

According to research by Nielsen, 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.

So, how can brands cut through? They can partner with influencers to deliver branded messages in authentic ways and reach their desired audience.

One example is live stream video gaming platform Twitch, which attracted more viewers than the Rio Olympics, and is currently the fourth highest generator of web traffic in the United States, following Netflix, Google and Apple.

Brands commonly use Twitch influencers to reach the gaming community, such as hiring a gamer for a sponsored stream or incorporating product placement at live competitions.

According to the Sensis Social Media Report 2016, “online blogs and reviews remain a fairly widespread influence on purchasing decisions with 60 per cent of social media users claiming to read them before making a purchase”.

Partnering with influencers give brands the opportunity to reach new and large audiences in ways that are genuine because the messages are endorsed by the influencer.

Social leads to sales

When combined with a strategic marketing plan, social media activity leads to sales.

It’s proven that customers use social media to research brands and, according to Sensis, the proportion doing so has increased 48 per cent over the past four years.

But it’s important to remember that social media leads to sales if it is part of a brand’s relationship marketing – it builds on the relationships made through traditional sales and account management and builds on them by putting those insights and digital data into practice.

Checklist for effective social selling

  • Design for mobile first
  • Create content that is compelling, and make video core to your marketing strategy
  • Partner with influencers so they can share stories enabled by your brand
  • Engage your network (employees, friends, partners, communities) to leverage the work that you do
  • Track your content using pixels and tracking tools to learn more about what your customers want
  • Measure your marketing activities from the perspective of your customer. Why would they care about your content? And why should they share your content?

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