Shama Hyder founded Marketing Zen when she was just 23 years old and built the company on a solid understanding of social media.
She wrote her thesis about Twitter well before anyone realized just how influential the platform would be.
Though everything about her projects an image of youth and fresh thinking, Shama sees herself and her work as simply the next step in a business nearly as old as humankind.
“Push marketing is not new,” she explained, pointing to a photo of the ancient ruins of Pompeii where archeologists found billboard ads painted by enterprising fishermen.
What is new, she continued, is that “People are now the media.”
They now have the power to opt out of seeing messages they aren’t interested in — and the power to broadcast their own opinions. Whether through social media or structured reviews.
To deal with that new reality, Shama built her talk Momentum: How to Propel Your Marketing and Transform Your Brand in the Digital Age around five principles.
Marketers can use each to develop strategies that work to reach customers where they live.
“Digital is not just a method,” Shama explained. “It’s the ecosystem.”
5 Principles for Momentum
1. Agility Through Analytics
“No sacred cows!” Shama warned. Every choice must be informed by data, and great marketers need numbers, not opinions. This includes the C-suite’s pet ideas about what color looks best on your logo.
To keep track of your campaign’s success, Shama recommended a few favorite tools:
- Google Analytics: Shama’s definitive choice for objective metrics is Google Analytics, especially when it comes to checking your site’s bounce rate and mobile traffic.
- Unbounce: Unbounce lets users create landing pages, but its real power lies in the ability to build A/B testing into your work.
- Heat Mapping: Taking stock of where users are moving their cursors on your webpages is a great way to design your message — no more hiding the CTA button in a dead zone!
2. Customer Focus
“Why do people use social media?” Shama asked.
The hypothesis that gets tossed around is that it’s about connection and building community. The real answer is completely different: “It’s to showcase their own identity.”
For true marketing success in a social media-driven digital world, Shama recommended changing the way you think about presenting your brand.
“What our brand says about us” is the wrong way to look at it. The right way? Focus on what your brand says about your customers. “People do business with you because of who they are,” Shama said, “Not because of who you are.”
This basic principle explains why some local businesses can get more likes on Facebook than big corporations.
People like to show off where they live and where they shop. They build their online identities by showcasing their tastes.
It also explains why the Ice Bucket Challenge was so successful. It allowed participants to put themselves at the center of the message.
The takeaway? Digital marketing today is about understanding your customer’s brand and being willing to make your brand secondary.
The line between online and offline marketing — and life! — is blurring.
Shama presented an example of a complex new model of the buyer’s journey. It showcased headphones users could tap with a smartphone to get access to an app.
In the app, users could doctor a selfie to see what they’d look like wearing the headphones and post the photo on Facebook for an opinion.
They then received coupons via email and additional incentives to get others to download the app. All the while being reminded to buy the product — and where to do so.
“This isn’t so much about intrusion,” Shama said. “It’s about the journey.”
Ever more seamless integration of online and offline living means that marketers should find ways to integrate more of what the company does into the customer journey. Including keeping them on board beyond the purchase.
4. Content Curation
People are utterly overwhelmed with content today. So much so that the idea of “surfing the web” seems hopelessly quaint.
Though there is plenty of information, people are really looking for wisdom. To make good choices, people are looking for experts to put all that data into actionable advice that they can use.
The success of sites like Pinterest and Upworthy prove that you don’t need to create all original content to get noticed online. Curating content and providing your customers with everything they need in one place can be just as valuable.
Shama also urged marketers to open their minds to other resources for content distribution.
For example, Ernst & Young’s internal newsletter has such great content that their 3,000 employees regularly share articles. That low-cost model has expanded their reach to over 20 million people.
If you make sharing easy, Shama explained, you can take advantage of your own team’s willingness to distribute content.
It’s also a good idea to cross-promote with retailers and other connections to capitalize on their existing audience base. This creates win-win exposure for both parties.
With an open mind and a willingness to let customers guide the conversation, marketers can cut through the noise. Harnessing the real power of social media in their work.
WriterAccess writers like Elizabeth T create content based on customer journeys to provide readers solutions.