In the marketing world, it’s often said that people don’t hate advertising — they hate bad advertising. What does and doesn’t constitute bad advertising can be discussed ad nauseum, but many of the points in that conversation all come back to one idea: inauthenticity.
Brands are speaking from a point-of-view that isn’t native to them, speaking to audiences they don’t connect with, or, all too often these days, capitalizing on “trends” in which they have no real story to tell. But perhaps most egregiously, and most common, is brands failing to recognize that they’re serving people — human beings, not “targets.”
Your customers are smart and want to be treated as such — they want personal, not transactional, interactions — and expect you to remember their history with your company, when they last spoke to customer service or a sales team member and where things stand.
Here are a few things you should (and shouldn’t) be doing to ensure your marketing is both authentic and effective.
Related: What is Authentic Marketing, and How Is It Different From Public Relations?
Speak in a consistent, authentic brand voice
For every brand that does a great job with a consistent brand personality, there are several who don’t get it right and ultimately suffer for it. Decide who your brand is and be sure that voice infiltrates each level of marketing and every customer touchpoint — and that all of your internal departments are communicating a consistent brand voice.
In today’s market, people aren’t doing business solely based on products and services; who your brand is at its core — the values you stand for, the image you project, the way you interact with customers — matters just as much. Consistency is crucial in forming a brand identity, and ultimately, one that your customers are familiar with and trust.
Don’t engage where you don’t belong
Today’s customer is savvier than ever before because they have unlimited information available — they will know when your brand voice is authentic and when you’re full of it. For example, it’s not uncommon to see brands posting around holidays or with things like “Happy International Women’s Day” on their social profiles, but it’s easy enough for the public to do some relatively surface-level digging and find out if that company has policies like paid family leave that truly support women. Or maybe you’re trying to grow your social media marketing. If something trending isn’t something on which you can authoritatively speak, it’s best to sit it out — otherwise, you risk losing the trust in your brand that you’ve worked so hard to build.
Related: How to Build an Authentic Brand
Personalize each and every customer experience
Part of treating your customers like humans is giving everyone a personalized experience, not a conveyor belt of marketing collateral. You should be using all available data on each customer to create a personalized experience for them whenever they interact with your brand, and this goes far beyond making sure your newsletters address folks by their first name.
Your customer relationship management (CRM) should be able to track where your customers are spending time on your site and what they’re interested in so you can serve them better and offer the best solutions possible. They need to feel you’re invested in their success and that you’re genuinely interested in forming a personal relationship with them.
Don’t use disparate data
If the data you’re using for personalization is coming from different sources, it has a higher chance of being incorrect. Unifying and integrating the data you have on each customer so that it’s a complete picture is essential and has very tangible implications.
A recent survey found that over one-third of companies with completely aligned technology and customer data across their marketing, sales and customer success teams saw a significant increase in revenue last year. Your company’s growth is quite literally at stake here. If your customer support team is referencing one data set while your sales team references another, your marketing is sure to suffer as well. Alignment is crucial for the best, personalized customer experience. And guess what? That same survey found companies that report the best customer experiences are 2.5 times more likely to report significant revenue growth than all others.
Related: 5 Steps to Crafting an Authentic Social Media Presence For Your Business
The bar has been raised, so it’s time to get on board
Today, customers want more from where they spend their money. It’s not enough to have great products; they want products from a great company that treats them like their biggest customer, even if in reality they are an occasional customer. Put simply: The bar on doing business has been raised. Speak consistently and authentically and you’ll earn your customers’ trust — and likely, more of their business.