The use of professional webcasts or event platforms has skyrocketed in the past year and a half, thanks to the still ongoing growth of digital events. Increased demand has pressured software manufacturers to continue adding features that contribute to a great user experience that matches or exceeds live events.
Nowadays, webcast tools and event platforms cater to virtually all types of digital events, from trade shows to virtual conferences, whether high-quality live streams in real-time or pre-recorded meetings. Moreover, the amount and degree of sophistication of the features offered in these platforms are also on the rise, going beyond plain video conferencing.
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When choosing a virtual event platform, event organisers have two options: they either use webcast event platforms or go for video conferencing solutions like Zoom. These have been making vast improvements to their capabilities and features, so the question is, do we still need webcast tools and event platforms? This article offers an overview of both options and the type of digital events they suit best.
Hosting Digital Events With Zoom And Similar Platforms
According to a survey, approximately 40% of event professionals use Zoom for virtual events. Microsoft Teams is the second tool of choice for small events. As for large virtual meetings, platforms like 6Connex, Accelevents or Adobe Connect are among the most popular tools.
We will focus on Zoom for this article since it has the largest market share and is the platform most event organisers know. As an event planner, you are no longer limited to Zoom meetings and webinar formats. With the development of Zoom Events, the event experience remains interactive. It is enriched with sophisticated networking features (even in multi-session digital events), customised registration, and the ability to host a virtual event, whether private, public, free, or paid.
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This makes Zoom Events a suitable option for small digital or hybrid meetings that don’t require a sophisticated event platform. And thanks to the Apps feature, Zoom offers additional functionalities that can help get more out of hybrid and digital events.
Zoom Apps: valuable integrations for more accessible hybrid and digital events
One of the main challenges for event planners is the smooth transfer of valuable data from one tool to another. Tasks that should be simple (like importing participant data from a registration tool into an event mobile app or transferring leads from the webcast platform into a CRM) end up being chaotic and frustrating.
The solution is integration, whether in the form of custom interfaces or platforms that can be integrated with your favourite tools. Zoom Apps is one of those platforms. It offers seamless integration with more than 80 event management solutions covering anything from virtual applauses to event registration, live voting, feedback, marketing automation, email marketing, and whiteboard functions.
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With Zoom Apps, event organisers can build extended functionality, boost collaboration, and make it easier for the organising team to complete tasks and achieve goals. This feature gives event planners the freedom to implement modern and efficient event management strategies that make their job easier.
To sum up, using Zoom Apps for integration purposes can help cover several crucial aspects of event management: turning webinars and meetings into online experiences, creating a monetisation strategy that works for you, and use participant data in follow-up marketing campaigns.
Professional event platforms and webcasting solutions
If, for whatever reason, you choose not to use Zoom or similar tools to manage your digital event, you may want to consider webcasting or event platform solutions. These have their place in modern event planning, and they offer many valuable functions.
As a general rule of thumb, the more complex and demanding your digital event becomes, the more worthwhile it is to use these professional event platforms. Next, we will look into their extensive features to compare them against your event requirements.
Almost every event platform is constantly developing additional networking functions for participants at the hybrid or digital events. Some enhanced networking features include:
- 1:1 text chats, whose benefits are described here.
- Group chats.
- 1:1 video sessions, whether scheduled or spontaneous.
- Carousel-style networking via video meetings.
- Speed networking, also via video meetings.
- Virtual tables for video meetings in small groups.
- Breakout sessions for discussions in small groups.
Sophisticated matchmaking solutions had been gaining popularity at events even before the pandemic. These intelligent solutions focus on connecting the right people, and in doing so, they take the benefits of networking to a new level.
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This feature is becoming increasingly important in both hybrid and digital events. As a result, smart matchmaking features are finding their way into more and more event platforms. On the other hand, regular video conferencing providers usually lag in deploying such features. So if this type of enhanced networking is crucial to your event, you may be better off with a professional platform.
Effective lead generation
Lead generation is one of the reasons why exhibitors and sponsors participate in digital events and virtual trade fairs. Before the pandemic, video conferencing solutions such as GoToMeeting already offered the possibility of viewing analytics linked to participant behaviour, but professional event platforms often do more than this.
Event platforms can bring a different angle to lead generation thanks to built-in features such as gamification, ranking of the most active participants on the platform, engagement scoring, and sophisticated analytics. What’s more, with these tools, you don’t just get access to quality data, but you can efficiently transfer it into the CRM or marketing automation tool of your choice.
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Moreover, many of these platforms are built with data protection compliance in mind, so you don’t have to treat this vital aspect of event planning as an entirely separate issue. In summary, professional event platforms deepen your understanding of participant behaviour, allow you to customise event offerings, and let you track business outcomes while preserving privacy and collecting robust data.
Higher broadcast quality
Webcasting platforms are often configured and managed by audiovisual service providers or agencies. Thanks to their expertise, they can usually be controlled at a more granular level regarding broadcast quality, especially traditional video conferencing solutions with a more “quick and easy” focus. Bear in mind that Zoom often automatically reduces picture quality, depending on the number of participants or the speed of their Internet connection. The compromise may not be very dramatic, but it’s always a risk that may not be worth assuming.
So what if you need more than a quick and easy set-up? There are some events where quality live streaming takes precedence, even if the tech solution that can deliver it is slightly more complex to use. This could be the case of virtual medical conferences or exhibitions, where image quality is a must to depict specific procedures or product details.
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This is where professional webcasting platforms have an advantage. Thanks to their extensive features and individually controlled broadcast settings, organisers have access to more options, higher image quality, professional branding, and more.
And since the video quality is key to engagement and the overall event experience, considering these platforms is one more step towards event success.
So do we still need professional webcasts or event platforms for digital events? It depends on what exactly you want to implement and accomplish. For relatively simple webinars or single-track events that only require simple interaction and voting tools, solutions such as Zoom Events, Zoom Apps and similar providers are becoming more and more attractive.
On the other hand, sophisticated event platforms and webcasting solutions offer event planners more valuable functions. These include detailed analytics for lead generation, sophisticated networking, intelligent matchmaking, and top-quality broadcasting.
Get in touch!
What if we told you that you could convert more leads and predict customer behaviours? All you have to do is divide your audience into smaller groups. However, you have to find the right groups. In other words, you need to find cohorts.
Cohort marketing is a way of dividing your audience into groups that have similar characteristics. By doing this, you can get a better idea of what your customers want.
To learn more about cohort marketing and how you can implement cohort marketing into your advertising plan, keep reading. We’re going to share everything you need to know.
What Is Cohort Marketing?
Cohort marketing is rooted in cohort analyses. Both practices focus on the evaluation and understanding of a particular group of individuals. When it comes to cohorts in advertising and marketing, a marketer is going to analyse what a particular group responds best to.
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Based on the cohorts shared characteristics, activities, or thoughts, marketers can improve their campaigns. Specifically, they can gear campaigns in the right direction based on the audience of people that they want to reach.
What Are Cohorts in Marketing?
A cohort is a group of people that have something in common. They could be the same age, identify with the same gender, live in the same place, or have something else in common.
A marketing cohort is a group of people that have characteristics that you want to seek out. For example, a pharmaceutical company may want to market to a specific age group or a group of people with the same condition. These groups are cohorts.
Dividing your audience into these groups can help you create more meaningful marketing materials that are more likely to interest the group that you’re marketing to.
Why Is Cohort Marketing Effective?
Cohort marketing allows you to divide your audience into smaller groups. You get to focus on fewer people that have more things in common. Therefore, your marketing team will have a clearer idea of what kind of marketing materials to prepare. However, there’s more to cohort marketing than that.
Convert More Leads
As we said, your marketing team will have fewer people to think about. At the same time, they’ll have a clearer idea of the kind of person that they’re marketing to. Thus, they’re more likely to choose the right marketing materials and interest more customers in your business.
In the end, cohort marketing can lead to a higher lead conversion rate. Your marketing team will be making more targeted advertisements, leading to more interest in the targeted groups. This bulletproofs your marketing strategy.
If you see an advertisement that’s specially made for you, you’re more likely to react positively to it. The same idea goes for the leads that your marketers are going to target with cohort marketing. They are going to be more likely to react positively to advertisements that you’ve geared towards their interests.
Predict Customer Behaviours
If you divide your audience into smaller groups, it’s going to be easier to understand the habits and behaviours of each individual group. Thus, you’re going to understand your audience as a whole better.
When your marketing team is creating marketing materials related to a specific group within your target audience, they’re going to be able to better understand that group’s reactions. By examining past behaviours, your team can make better choices when they’re preparing posts and ads.
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This may also help your business understand its revenue patterns as well. If you can understand purchasing decisions and habits, you can better predict when particular groups will convert or make additional purchases. Then, you can revise your timing and posting habits to reflect these shifts in revenue and activity.
Increase Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI is one of the best ways to determine whether or not a specific kind of advertising is working. It can tell you whether or not you should continue with your current habits or move on to another method of marketing. Cohort marketing comes with a higher ROI.
Your marketing team will be able to make better decisions with access to more information about their audience, so they’ll be able to pull in more leads and customers. In the end, these people are going to be more likely to make first and repeat purchases from the company. Thus, the company is going to make more money from these advertisements.
How to Apply Audience Research to Cohort Marketing
In order to understand each cohort that your business is targeting, you need to make sure that you’re considering the right metrics. You need to understand your cohort’s preferences, behaviours, and more. You can learn all about your cohort through cohort analysis.
There are five main metrics that you should keep in mind:
- User retention
- Revenue per cohort
- Customer lifetime value
- Customer engagement
- Marketing channel metrics
By paying attention to these numbers, you can learn more about your cohort and the kinds of activity that you can expect from each individual. You can also track these metrics over time to see if there are any changes as your marketing becomes more personalised.
How to Divide Your Audience the Right Way
The way that your company divides its audience is going to depend on the kinds of people that your business is trying to target in its marketing. Some companies divide their audience into age groups to change their kinds of marketing while others divide their audience by location to divide marketing between different stores.
Sometimes, the process of dividing your audience may take trial and error. To get started, think about the way that your marketing team decides to market to your audience. How could they make their marketing materials better and more personalised?
Cohort Marketing – Where Do We Start?
Cohort marketing is one of the most undervalued kinds of marketing strategies. Many people think that target their audience is enough even if it fails them over and over again. If you’re looking to help your business grow, you should get in touch with me. I look forward to helping you with your digital marketing plan.
Demystifying Google Ads billing
Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. This platform allows you to promote your website, set advertising budgets and bids, and measure results. But why is the Google Ads billing so complicated? Even something as simple as finding the invoice is a challenge.
I get it.
Navigating a new tool can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! To help you with that, in this article I’ll cover what you need to know about Google Ads billing so you can comfortably use this platform even if you’re a beginner. Specifically, I will be looking at:
- Payment settings and payment methods
- Finding Google Ads invoices
- Discrepancies between invoices and debited amounts
- VAT and taxes
- Downloading and printing payment receipts
Let’s get started.
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Setting up payments
When it comes to setting up payments, it’s important to remember that in Google Ads, there’s a difference between payment settings and payment methods.
Payment settings refer to how you want to make payments. Depending on the country you are in, there are different payment settings available in Google Ads, including:
- Manual payments, where you pay a lump sum before the campaign starts and Google deducts the costs from the total.
- Automatic payments, where Google charges you for the cost of running a campaign either at the end of the billing cycle or when you reach your threshold, whichever happens first.
- Monthly billing, where Google gives you a line of credit you receive an invoice for all the ads ran during a billing cycle. This billing option is usually only available to large advertisers.
On the other hand, payment methods specify the channel used to make payments. The options vary from country to country and depend on your currency, but in most cases the following payment methods are available:
- Direct debit, where the amount owed is automatically taken from your bank account.
- Credit and debit card payment.
To set or change the payment method, ensure you’re logged into your Google Ads account and click on “Tools and Settings”. Then click on “Billing” > “Payment method”, enter the requested information, and save it.
For extra peace of mind, you can also set up a backup payment method. Go to “Billing” > “Settings” > “Payment methods”, then designate the payment options on record as either Primary or Back Up, and save the changes. This will ensure that you’re always up to date with your payments should there be a problem with your bank, debit, or credit card.
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Partial payments with voucher codes and coupons
Google Ads allows you to make partial payments against an invoice using coupons or voucher codes. If you have any of these, you can redeem them and combine their total amount to cover a specific invoice. To do that, ensure you’ve selected a payment method and click on “Billing”, then go to “Voucher codes”, enter your code, and click on “Save”. This will apply the voucher/coupon amount towards your next invoice.
Sales tax & VAT on Google Ads invoices
Google Ads invoices do not include VAT or sales tax. However, this doesn’t mean you’re exempt from paying the relevant taxes. Google views tax compliance as the individual responsibility of each account holder, so always budget for the taxes that apply in your country. Because taxation rules differ from country to country and from situation to situation, I always recommend speaking with an accountant or a tax advisor to determine what applies in your case.
Finding your Google Ads invoice
Google Ads invoices are generated every month and available for viewing and downloading directly from your account.
To find your Google Ads invoices, you need to log into your Google Ads account. Next, click on “Tools & Settings” in the top right-hand corner. Then select “Billing” and “Billing overview”.
If your Google Ads account is new, you can access the “Billing” tab from the menu bar.
What if you need more than one invoice? You access your entire invoice history by clicking on
“Billing”, “Invoices” and then “All Invoices”. After selecting the Google Ads invoices you need, click on “Download selection”.
Still having problems finding your Google Ads invoice?
This can be due to four things.
- It may still be too early in the billing cycle, which covers 30 days from the moment you purchase a campaign. So you won’t find any invoice if you’re trying to access it and it’s only day 2 in the billing cycle.
- You may not have reached your threshold. In addition to the billing cycle, Google takes into account thresholds to trigger invoices. The specific amounts vary, going from $50 to $500. New accounts usually have a $50 threshold, and the platform won’t generate an invoice if your charges don’t amount to that.
- Google Ads only generates invoices when there’s an activity in your account. So you may not get an invoice if you have paused a campaign or if your keyword search volume is too low to drive any traffic.
- You’re trying to access an invoice without selecting a time period.
Why doesn’t your invoice match the amount debited from your account?
Finding a mismatch between the invoice total and the amount Google debited from your bank account or credit card is very common. And unfortunately, this discrepancy can create some accounting headaches. So why does this happen?
This issue can happen if you have chosen the Automatic payment settings. As I explained earlier in this article, this means that Google charges you either at the end of the billing cycle or when you reach your threshold, whichever happens first. You may reach your threshold before the billing cycle is over, or multiple times during this cycle. Each time this happens, there will be a separate charge reflected in your bank account or credit card statement. However, the Google Ads invoice generated at the end of the 30-day billing cycle will reflect the total amount outstanding.
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Let’s use an example to clarify this. Imagine you have a $100 threshold and your billing cycle starts the fifth day of every month. On day 20, you hit the £100 threshold and Google debits your bank account or credit card. You don’t hit the threshold again until the following month. You may still accrue clicks between day 20 and day 5 of the following month when Google generates the invoice. This invoice will cover the clicks that took place between the time you hit the threshold and the invoice date or end of the billing cycle.
So in summary, any clicks that take place after hitting the threshold are carried over into the following month and are reflected in the respective invoice. Google does not match payments to invoices, which can make bookkeeping a bit complicated unless you are a large advertiser and qualify for monthly billing.
Making changes to your Google Ads invoice
You cannot make any changes to an invoice or payment settings once Google Ads has issued the invoice in question. If you entered the wrong payment information by mistake, you can still edit it under “Payment methods” as explained above, but the changes will only come into effect in the next billing cycle.
Bear in mind that any updates you make to payment information must be made at least 14 days before the end of the billing cycle if you want them to be reflected in the next invoice.
Downloading and printing your Google Ads invoice
You can get a hard copy of a Google Ads invoice for your records or for accounting purposes, directly from your account dashboard.
Once you’re logged into your account, click on “Billing”, and again on “View Invoices”. This will display a drop-down menu where you can choose between “All Invoices” (a historical view of all your invoices), and “Open and past due invoices”, which shows outstanding invoices.
Once you select a specific invoice, you get the option to download it in PDF or CSV format.
In this article I’ve covered the basics of Google Ads billing, so you can navigate this tool smoothly from now on. If you have questions on whether Google Ads is for you or would like to know how to bring real change to your business, get in touch. I’ll be happy to discuss the options and offer personalised solutions.
Trust is a central element in customer relationships. In fact, 81 per cent of customers won’t purchase from a brand they don’t trust. Customers trust that we will deliver what we promise, and they trust that our brand will be there for them when they need us most.
But how do you gain customer trust? It isn’t easy — even with the best customer service and quality products. This blog post offers some advice on customer experience strategies that can help improve your conversion rates and build customer loyalty.
What Is Customer Trust?
Trust is the foundation of customer relationships. Trust means that customers believe in you and your brand, and they feel confident buying from you.
The level of trust a customer has for a business will determine how loyal they are to their products or services, even when faced with competitive alternatives.
Why Is Customer Trust Important?
Customer trust is vital for customer relationships, customer service, and business success. If customers don’t believe in your brand or what you do, they won’t stick around much longer — especially when faced with competitive options. Without customer retention (and, more importantly, customer referrals), it will be challenging to achieve long-term growth and profit margins.
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Trust and customer relationships are built on a foundation of customer service. When customers have problems with your products or services, you need to be there for them. Without this support, customer trust will decrease rapidly, which can cause negative reviews and even lawsuits in some cases. This effect has the potential of putting many businesses out of business over time.
What Damages Customer Trust?
Many factors can damage customer trust. Some of the most common include:
An Inability to Deliver
If you promise a quality product but deliver an inferior one, customers will be unhappy, and they’ll likely tell their friends about your brand — for all the wrong reasons. If this continues to happen, customer loyalty will decrease fast, which is never good news for any business.
You only have one chance at a first impression with new customers. If you fall short on customer service or delivery time, people will leave negative reviews online. This has been shown as being harmful to business growth as potential new customers may not purchase from you again because of those bad experiences shared by others in their network.
Lies, Deception and Fraud
Many customers don’t like being lied to. If they find out you’re trying to manipulate them or deceive them somehow, customer trust will be damaged beyond repair — very quickly. This includes customer reviews that are altered or fake.
Poor customer communication is all too common these days. Customers are constantly frustrated with automated customer service experiences, poor response times, not being updated on order progress or status changes, and more.
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How Can You Build Customer Trust?
Several customer experience strategies can help you build customer trust and, ultimately, customer loyalty. These include:
Customer Service Reviews and Testimonials
Customer reviews and customer testimonials are an essential part of your customer experience strategy. With the rise in online review sites, collecting positive customer feedback is more important than ever. This can help create social proof for potential customers who may be unsure about whether they want to buy. But these types of customer comments need to be genuine.
Maintaining Customer Trust With Clear Communication
Customers need to know that they can depend on you and your brand. So make sure that the lines of communication with them are always open — especially when there’s an issue with a product or service.
If customers feel like you’re ignoring them, it will be difficult for them to build trust with your brand. Customers expect businesses to have authentic communication about issues and changes made going forward.
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Social Media Presence
In this customer-centric age, it’s essential to ensure that your business is active on the most popular social media platforms. Customers will expect you to be present and responsive here if they choose to contact you in these ways. If customers can’t find you online, there’s a good chance they’ll leave negative reviews. So don’t miss out on connecting with them where they’re already spending much of their time.
Transparency is about being honest with customers. It’s not just about customer service, though. It also needs to be across your entire brand experience strategy. When customer trust is high, it’s often because the brand has built a reputation for transparency. This suggests that they’re honest, reliable, and easy to work with or buy from.
For customer service reps, this means resolving customer problems without any excuses. It also means giving them as much detail as possible when explaining what went wrong, no matter how embarrassing it might be for your company.
Deliver High-Quality Products and Services
Above all else, customer trust is built on delivering a high-quality product and service that consistently meets or exceeds customer expectations.
If customers are unhappy with what they receive from your business, it won’t be easy to convince them to buy again in the future. And it won’t matter how frequently you communicate with them about their issues.
Why You Need To Consult a Professional
There are customer experience experts who have years of customer service, marketing, and brand management experience. Working with someone like this can help you figure out how to better prioritise customer needs. They’ll make sure you’re focused on the right things when it comes to customer loyalty.
You’ll also be able to get a deeper understanding of your customer base using data-driven toolsets. This will allow insights into what works best across different channels, including social media, phone support interactions, email communications, etc. This way, you won’t just guess at ways to improve customer trust. Instead, you’ll know exactly where your biggest opportunities lie because real data have proved them.
And all these services take much less time than doing customer research on your own. So you’ll have time to put customer trust management strategies in place, which can ultimately lead to brand success.
Better Customer Trust = Brand Success
The customer is always right. So make sure you’re available to them whenever they need help and do everything in your power to resolve their problems quickly and effectively. If you’re ready to create a customer-centric brand strategy, the first step is reaching out to us at fmwaechter.com. We’re customer experience experts who have deep customer knowledge across various industries, so we can help you get started on the right path to improving customer trust fast. You can contact us to get started today!
2020 has been a year of profound changes. Due to these changes, many of us have been moved to make an in-depth evaluation of how we live our lives, which are our priorities, and which tools we use to reach them. The big question is: are we living our lives in the best possible way?
As a digital marketer, I am interested in how people in my industry handle this question. And some of their conclusions resonate strongly with me. This year’s work-from-home and isolation requirements have resulted in many people taking to social media and spending more time online than ever before. We have also seen an increase in digital interactions for business purposes, replacing in-person meetings, conferences, networking events, etc.
But has this been to our benefit? In our October post, we discussed the social media dilemma and the implications it has for anyone who works in digital marketing. In these difficult times, people flock to social media platforms to feel connected to others, but togetherness is not necessarily a priority for these businesses. These platforms are corporate-owned and built to make money out of our data.
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The Social Dilemma
The social media dilemma has an ethical side that we simply cannot ignore. As a content marketer myself, I have come to question the role I play in supporting the corporate goals of social networks, whether directly or indirectly. On the one hand, I encourage clients to develop a robust online presence, and social media is a crucial component of this. But on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder how fair is it to promote practices that may jeopardise my clients’ privacy and integrity. So is what I am doing 100% beneficial to my clients?
As things stand right now, I cannot say it is. This realisation has direct implications for my line of work, and I am sure many other marketers will be in the same boat. The main implication is that my old business model is no longer viable if I want to truly serve my clients’ best interests – and only theirs.
After giving this matter some serious thought, I have decided to transform my business one step at the time. I hope to document the process and the challenges I find along the way in an upcoming series of blog posts. The transformation starts by no longer offering social media as a marketing tool. My key focus lies on strategy and data-based content marketing respecting every aspect of GDPR privacy regulation. At the same time, I started developing different ethical marketing solutions.
The Case For Ethical Marketing
The concept of ethical marketing is not new; in fact, it was being discussed even before the famous documentary “The Social Dilemma” raised the question in mainstream circles.
Society changes, and so does technology. This change means we must be prepared to ask and answer honest questions about to which extent we should accept the interference of technology into our private or business lives. This is especially pertinent to social media marketing, as the nature of the data collected via these platforms raises serious ethical questions.
But we reach another crossroads: social media marketing (and to some degree most digital marketing nowadays) is effective precisely because of the vast amounts of personal data we now have access to. This allows for higher personalisation, which can be more satisfactory to the user and financially rewarding for businesses. So if we take this away from the equation, are we setting ourselves up for disaster? In other words, can an ethical marketing business succeed?
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Towards Ethical Content Marketing
I believe that there will always be a market for companies who genuinely care for their clients. The expectation is already there, for example, in late 2019 a research piece found that brands perceived as “ethical” get more committed, loyal, and satisfied customers, among other competitive advantages.
As marketers, we need to promote brands and services and help clients find the perfect match between their offerings and what their users need. But in the new context, the marketer’s role has to take an educational or informational perspective. People cannot demand what they don’t know about.
Content marketing is a big win here because offering valuable content for free, instead of using it to track or collect data, is the best move. Ethical content marketing informs and empowers through content, prioritises freedom and privacy by promoting individual choice, responsibility, and well-being.
I have started to outline a few guiding principles that will help me evaluate marketing strategies against an ethical benchmark. This list is work in progress, but I believe it sets me in the right path:
- Stay clear of spammy practices.
- The ultimate goal is to build genuine connections, not getting more clicks.
- Content should deliver value and uphold values.
- Content should empower clients through knowledge, so they implement ethical practices in their online interactions.
But I also accept that I have my limitations. It is impossible to change the way algorithms work or to influence the privacy and data use policies of the big players. But that does not mean my hands are tied: there are things I can do to limit the influence of unethical practices in my day-to-day life and also in my business.
One of these things is re-learning to use the Internet and other digital products by focusing on how to do so safely. Privacy issues surrounding the online world are a top priority in ethical content marketing, so I’ve been experimenting with the best way to transform my habits first, before recommending them to clients.
These thoughts marked the beginning of my personal (but also professional) transformation towards an ethical online presence. The time has come to critically evaluate what digital marketers have to offer in today’s changing landscape – I hope you will accompany me in my exploration!
2020 is being a year of disruption and uncertainty, and the impact seems to grow bigger as we transition from a public health crisis to an economic crisis. For brands and the business owners behind them, the key concern is how to maintain a customer base. Redrafting your marketing strategy can help, but so is investing in a genuine communication plan. In this post, we review the guidelines to deliver authentic communication in times of crisis in a way that builds trust and loyalty to your brand.
The Importance Of Authenticity
In crisis situations, it is important to remember that appearing as a genuine brand can help sustain trust. Of course, authenticity in communications needs to be underpinned by a deep sense of empathy for your customers and staff needs.
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Sometimes it may be hard to stay on top of your stakeholders’ expectations, and especially in rapidly-changing situations like the one we live in now. In such cases, authenticity starts with:
- Asking for feedback frequently before problems happen. Be specific when requesting feedback and make sure you get a clear picture of how people are feeling and what they need. For example, someone who is anxious may need reassuring, whereas someone struggling with a sense of loss will benefit from learning about your vision for the future.
- -If you made a mistake, authenticity means admitting to it – the sooner you do it, the better.
Stick To The Basics
When communicating during a crisis, don’t be tempted to reinvent the wheel. Authentic communication is possible using the fundamental tools and techniques and of effective communication. So what exactly are those? Here are some suggestions:
- Find common pain points between your brand and your customers.
- Give facts, but don’t overwhelm people with numbers or jargon.
- Keep it conversational, not scripted.
- Don’t hide the negatives and balance them with the positives.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. The main goal is to provide relevant information and to reassure the audience.
- Bring it back to your values, and explain how those values support your crisis response plan.
Building Your Crisis Communication Plan
A crisis communication plan is an internal document that will guide your company through the event, whether it is caused by natural disasters or health emergencies. At the very least, this document should include the following:
- The why: The reasons and context behind the crisis.
- The who: Specify who can activate the plan and establish a crisis communications team. You will want to appoint a spokesperson with excellent interpersonal skills too.
- The how: Outline how you will handle internal and external communications as well as the steps needed to manage them. Also, account for how you will evaluate the response to your communications – you need to know what’s working and what isn’t.
- The what: Include the communication channels or tools you will use (e.g. website, email, social media, press releases, etc.).
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Remember that crises have stages and so should your communications plan. Each stage has an objective, so you will need to adapt the content of your communications as follows:
- Early stage: Clear instructional and informative messages.
- Mid stage: Practical information about how to adapt to the new situation.
- Final stage: A “what’s next” approach with a focus on recovery.
Five Additional Tips For Authentic Communication In Times Of Crisis
- Make sure you do not leave anyone behind, whether they are staff, contractors, suppliers, or neighbouring businesses. You want to be proactive and encourage dialogue with all your stakeholders.
- Communicate using your stakeholders’ preferred channels. Social media communications are effective to deliver a crisis response due to their reach and immediacy. Moreover, people are spending more time on those platforms now, but be aware that patterns of engagement have changed.
- Keep all crisis communications updates in the same place. This could be a microsite or an FAQ section.
- Acknowledge your weaknesses. Everyone feels vulnerable in a crisis, so admitting to it can build a genuine connection with your audience. Honesty and transparency are the main drivers of trust and can help strengthen your market position.
- Make it about people. Highlight the human factor when explaining how your organization is tackling the crisis.
Effective communication in times of crisis requires striking the right balance between being authentic on one side and managing the natural reactions of alarm and confusion. Now is the time to start planning a coordinated communications strategy that shows the most authentic side of your brand. Get in touch today if you’d like to speak to a digital communications specialist about how to make this happen.