More and more companies need to shore up their digital marketing strategies as COVID-19 continues to limit in-person events. Recent research has shown that 61% of marketers are altering their short-term media strategy, and there has been a move from offline to online media, as digital channels continue to be an increasingly important alternative to in-person initiatives.1 In this environment, agencies need to be proactive about meeting their clients’ needs and offering the services that are in demand right now. To do this, agencies need to invest in the data that will take these tactics to the next level.
Digital marketing can take a number of different forms – email, search engines, social media, push notifications, website, and display ads.
The possibilities of digital marketing are virtually infinite, but marketing budgets are not. An effective digital marketing strategy uses attribution methods, powered by clean and accurate data, to evaluate which assets, campaigns, and channels drive engagement.
Accurate data is the bedrock of digital marketing; it is essential when it comes to decision making. Marketers need to use data to better target audiences, personalize messaging, select channels and predict future consumer behavior. The more depth and breadth of data agencies have to work with, the more sophisticated their digital marketing strategies can be.
As clients turn to agency partners to help them navigate the digital landscape, the following data-driven tactics can help clients meet their acquisition goals:
In 2020, consumers expect instant service, and a chatbot can provide an immediate response.2
As COVID-19 has forced a shift from in-store to online service, this technology is more of a necessity than ever. According to Gartner, by the year 2021, 50% of enterprise companies will spend more on bots and chatbot creation than on traditional mobile app development.3
And some reports estimate bots will power 85% of customer service by the end of 2020. Ultimately, it’s a smart investment because the bots are expected to cut business costs by about $8 billion by 2022.4
Here are two ways to ensure success using bot assistants:
a. Invest in the data that powers chatbots
The AI algorithms that enable chatbots to learn and respond with relevant, helpful answers depend on accurate data. We know that data decays rapidly, so companies need to have a plan to combat it. Consider partnering with a data company that can keep client data clean and updated in real-time.
b. Research the method that will best serve your clients
It’s essential to plan and prepare when assessing and implementing new technology. Chatbots have varying levels of complexity – a chatbot that can be easily installed with a widget may not be able to use the AI algorithms needed to provide a meaningful experience to customers. Dr. David Naylor, the Founder of Humanotics, explains the complexity of even a simple question: “A bank in Australia came across almost 2,000 different ways people could ask for a bank balance. These were all programmed into their chatbot. You would think this query would be straightforward, but it takes time!”5
The most effective chatbots will be intelligent – meaning they use AI and ML to take in data, identify patterns, ‘remember’ past interactions with customers, and continue learning the more they are used.
Brand example: Amtrak
Commuter railroad service, Amtrak, needed to improve their customer service. The railroad serves over 30 million customers per year – a number too high for a traditional customer service team to handle. The company partnered with Next IT to create a chatbot “self-service” option on their website. They named their chatbot “Julie” to humanize the process. Julie can help passengers book travel, simply by telling her where they want to go and when. She can also help by pre-filling forms for travelers, answering questions about luggage and amenities, and finding accommodations and rental cars in the area. Overall, Julie has increased bookings by 25%, saved Amtrak over a million dollars in customer service expenses, and Amtrak has seen an 800% ROI.6
Voice search is a great way to drive traffic to a client’s website or landing page. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon reported that more people are using its voice-activated Alexa unit – and that voice skills usage is up 65%.7
a. Update client listings
SEMrush found that 70% of all voice search answers used a SERP (search engine results page) feature.8 In fact, a 2018 study found that 58% of consumers have used voice search to find a local business9 – well before the pandemic surge reported by Amazon. Voice search results frequently pull from local business listings found in Google, Yelp, Bing, and Apple Maps. It’s crucial to make sure your clients’ listings are up-to-date. Data providers, such as Data Axle, can give businesses a central place to list and manage their business.
b. Incorporate conversational content using machine learning
When customers use voice search, they speak less formally, which means that voice search assistants will pull results from websites that are easy to understand and conversational in tone.10 In order to keep automated interactions conversational, brands need to employ machine learning technology. ML technologies learn from the data sets stored on your prospect and client base – the larger and more accurate the data sets, the easier it will be for the ML to learn to speak like your client’s ideal prospect or current customer. Partnering with a third-party data provider to maintain and store this data is key to keeping your clients’ webpages at the top of the results page.
Brand example: McDonald’s and Mirum Agency
Fast-food giant, McDonald’s, hired Mirum to help their South African chains harness the power of voice search to improve local sales. Mirum decided to focus on Google’s “OK Google” voice search with the “McDonald’s South Africa Know Our Food” campaign. Mirum created landing pages dedicated to debunking food ‘myths’ and used SEO tactics to maximize the “OK Google” voice search queries. The results – within a month, McDonald’s South Africa saw a 36% increase in mobile organic search, and by month two, they saw an 18.44% increase in campaign conversions.11
Marketers underestimate the importance of a well-informed SEO strategy. A recent HubSpot Research survey found that 64% of marketers actively invest in SEO – which means that the other 36% are leaving money on the table.12 Many agencies consider SEO to be a fundamental part of digital marketing because people conduct trillions of searches every year, often with the goal of finding information about products and services. Using the correct keywords and phrases means companies can increase visibility and boost sales by driving traffic to their site, thus creating more opportunities to convert leads into customers.
a. Optimize your client’s website
Optimizing technical components of a company’s website, such as site accessibility, speed, information architecture, and overall site functionality and internal linking will result in better search result placement.
b. Know what keywords prospects are searching
Keyword research is a vital part of SEO success. The keywords you select for your clients should be the words and phrases their audience uses to find them. Having the data to understand your client’s target audience and how they think is crucial to getting this right This type of data is not typically available within a company’s own database, so it requires a partnership with a data provider. Reputable data providers collect data from various publicly available sources like platforms, apps, and websites, then run it through extensive compilation, cleansing, and validation processes to ensure accuracy. The data partner can then provide you with insights on what high-value prospects are searching for so you can weave those keywords into your clients’ websites and landing pages.
Brand example: Brightedge & Lou Malnati’s
Chicago pizza chain Lou Malnati’s is well known locally, but they wanted to improve their national ecommerce business. They turned to an agency, Brightedge, to make this happen. Brightedge focused on local SEO by looking at what Lou Malnati’s competitors were doing in the space. They used that as a starting point to optimize and refine keywords to match the language consumers used when searching for both local restaurants and online ordering. Improving SEO translated into a 30% increase in revenue for both their local restaurants as well as the chain’s national ecommerce.13
There are many digital marketing tactics that agencies can take to improve their clients’ customer acquisition strategies. SEO, chatbots, and voice search are effective, and agencies should utilize these tactics to help their clients broaden their reach and increase conversions.
As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Infogroup’s content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.