Engage with customers

How to Engage with Customers in a Meaningful Way

After a year where so much has changed for both consumers, and us as marketers, how do we continue to engage with customers in a meaningful and authentic way?

To answer this question we held a networking event and lively panel discussion with some talented marketers at the fabulous Eden Park in Auckland. Much was discussed, including some of the recent legislation changes, Covid-related challenges and learnings from the year that was 2020.

2020 a year of change for marketers

On top of Covid, marketers have faced a number of changes that are creating new rules of engagement with consumers. Here’s just a few that were discussed:

  • Covid-related lockdowns have encouraged consumers to move more of their shopping online.
  • Third-party cookies are progressively being blocked across a number of browsers.
  • The ASA has released new rules making it clear that ads are ads, in particular targeting social media and influencers.
  • The latest Apple iOS update requires users to opt-in to location tracking for any app or service.
  • New Zealand has released updates to the Privacy Act effective 1st December 2020

Essentially more power has been put in the hands of consumers, meaning marketers may not have it so easy anymore. So how must marketers adapt? Our panellists had some insightful thoughts.

Create a two-way engagement

Melanie Spencer, from Socialites & The Social Club, thinks these new rules are a good thing, as they force us to be smarter and more human. She says we need to be thinking about social media as a two-way conversation rather than a one-way broadcast. Consumers are fairly savvy and can smell the crap. Listening and using insights from social conversations is important too. She says that during the first lockdown New World had 40,000 conversations over social, and these were used to garner insights for senior leadership so that they could make better informed decisions.

Sharon Abbot, Head of Data Governance at ANZ Bank agrees on the two-way engagement. It’s the same with data – there has to be an exchange of value with people. Customer data is enormously personal, and we need to remember that there is a real person behind that data. She believes that we should be celebrating this new privacy legislation, and while providing tighter guardrails, it still allows room for creativity. Organisations have a huge obligation to manage their customer data well, but also to give their customers something of value in return for handing over that data.

Permission-based marketing

No longer can we rely on assumed permission or long and complex terms and conditions that nobody actually reads. Permission to engage and collect data is becoming much more explicit with a greater expectation for opt-ins and transparency.

Chris Robb, Chief Customer Transformation Officer from Salesforce suggests that we need to find more natural and progressive ways to get more permission from customers; not “going for the marriage proposal on the first date.” We need to think about building a long-term customer. If we can slowly build up data profiles with greater transparency and permission from customers, we have a much greater opportunity for personalisation.

Richard Wright, Digital Analytics Manager at NZME, couldn’t agree more. He in fact believes that the removal of cookies for third-party data across browsers is a good thing as now it forces marketers to think about our first-party data strategies. We need to give consumers something valuable to register, login and give their data on a daily basis. The new permission and registration approach is forcing NZME to innovate and bring new products to market.

But, that old value-exchange chestnut came to the fore with an audience member challenging marketers on this. His premise was that many consumers are in fact happy to hand over their data but get let down with a poor user and customer experience. There was a general agreement that there are opportunities to improve with greater maturity and transformation in this space.

Keep it real

If there’s anything that Covid has taught us it’s that we want to feel human and feel good. No longer are consumers willing to accept fake, disingenuous marketing. 2020 has seen the rise of the social influencer and a huge trend towards being “real”. Melanie Spencer suggests this is why TikTok has taken off – it’s fun and entertaining, and that’s what people want right now.

Another audience member suggested that as marketers or business owners, we need to remember what’s important in the grand scheme of things. Thinking about customers as real people, focusing on mental health, and rewarding customers loyalty. Bring some humanity into your business and look after those that have looked after you.

2021? Be confident and be brave.

After much lively debate, the discussion turned to the year ahead. What do we need to do in 2021? The panellists suggested that 2021 is all about being human and being brave. Take the leap. Do something that you wouldn’t normally do. And finally, as marketers, we must inspire our organisations to be great and to deliver inspired customer experiences.

What are you going to do in 2021?


About the Author

As Head of Marketing at Qrious, Nicki is passionate about achieving business growth through innovative and effective marketing. With an emphasis on building brand equity and developing clear marketing communications, her focus is on showcasing the extensive data, analytics, and marketing capabilities of the team at Qrious. Nicki is a keen advocate of inbound marketing and data-driven marketing practices, ensuring that Qrious is ‘drinking its own champagne’. She is also a member of the Digital Special Interest Group for the Marketing Association, supporting the promotion of best practice marketing in the industry.

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