How Marketing Is Finding Its Human Side

How Marketing Is Finding Its Human Side
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In this guest post, Ryan Bonnici, marketing director at HubSpot APAC, takes a look at the current play of marketing in Australia and says its time we all found our emotional side…

Marketers, I have some good news and some bad news: the digital realm as you know it is all about to change.

The prevailing mantra for the past decade has been defined by engagement, as audiences pivot from accepting orders to demanding communication with brands. The philosophy for the next will be marketing made human.

Here at HubSpot, we were early adopters of the last move, which we call ‘Inbound Marketing’. Luckily for all of us, the key tenet of this philosophy hasn’t changed. Audiences still prefer to be drawn into products and services, rather than have us bark at them from afar. But the actual techniques that are needed to come good on this implicit promise to consumers now need to reflect the evolving digital landscape we work, live and play in.

I recently attended HubSpot’s annual INBOUND event and this human approach to marketing was a pervasive trend throughout the presentations. Marketers are no longer aiming for the low bar of relevancy, but instead are using the best technology to find a more authentic way of connecting with their audience. Below are my key takeaways from the event; I hope they provide a more practical window for you on how to approach this ‘move to human’.

Marketing and sales have permanently converged

Marketing and sales have traditionally been two separate functions in most businesses but in the eyes of the consumer – the only opinion that matters in the digital age – these teams have fused, and so they should. Customers don’t distinguish between departments and it’s now time for it to happen within your business as well.

With an influx of information at their fingertips customers are savvier than ever before, and they expect a seamless experience from the businesses they engage with. If you’re to have any cut through with this audience, this is the role your sales team should be playing.

The best way to achieve this is to remove the silos in your organisation by aligning sales and marketing – what we’ve termed ‘smarketing’ – so they are working with the same messaging, towards the same goals and are learning from one another. Retaining the status quo will only act to frustrate your consumers who will most acutely feel this disconnect.

Optimise for emotion

The volume of search has been increasing thanks not only to its ubiquity in everyday life but the new ways we can access it, such as mobile. There are twice as many searches occurring as there were just a few years ago – and it’s good news for marketers.

But this isn’t the only thing that has changed. Google has overhauled the search page by including a number of its own properties such as the knowledge graph and Google Maps information. Where once upon a time marketers vied to reach ‘The 10 Blue Links’ – the first page of organic search results – the top organic link no longer appears until half way down the page. The reality for the business holding the place of the third or fourth organic link is that too few customers will ever venture far enough down to reach it.

What can we do? The answer is to think bigger. Beyond ‘The 10 Blue Links’ there is a prime opportunity to get into other content spaces. Google Images and Twitter posts appear in Google search results now and even earned media such as Google News can provide new opportunities to help your content find an audience.

Content that connects

In a world where marketing needs emotion, content is king; after all, what is more human than storytelling?

However it’s important for marketers to realise that in 2017 not all content marketing is created equal. In less than a decade we’ve shifted from words and bloggers to visual content being favourably biased. We believe clients should be putting at least half of their content budgets into the creation of video; preferably short, snappy content that adds to the consumer experience.

Using storytelling to connect with your customers on a deeper emotional level takes the idea of engagement one step further, but it shouldn’t end with your content team. If we’re creating seamless experiences, sales teams need to be brought into the messaging in order to seed it to your consumers. They also have a role in shaping content, as they can inform the marketing department as to what is and isn’t working it; they are, after all, the closest connection point to your consumer.

Inbound marketing is all about being human – about speaking to consumers and clients as people through the smart use of technology – and content provides an opportunity to bridge that gap in ways marketers have always dreamed of.

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