Shifting From One-Way Broadcast to Two-Way Dialog Changes Everything

Opinion: It’s time marketers put down the megaphones and join in a dialog with each customer

Marketing tactics are changing. Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages from every possible channel. Television, radio and satellite commercials are not to be outdone by print ads, pop-up ads, emails and social media posts. Most marketers understand the need to cut through the advertising clutter with more personalized, targeted messages in the right channels at the right time, but most struggle with how it can best be accomplished.

Content marketing, specifically, is changing. Diminished returns and readership are forcing brands to rethink how they engage consumers. Savvier brands understand that blasting out content in hopes that something might stick is no longer effective marketing. They are shifting their strategy toward real personalization through direct marketing channels.

Personalization used to mean inserting the recipient’s name and company into a generic email. Consumers are smarter than this. True personalization is authentically one-to-one conversations. It’s time marketers put down the megaphones and join in a dialog with each customer. It can be done, but it’s going to require brands to meet consumers where they are.

With rapid consumer adoption of messaging applications and social media, brands have a new frontier for customer engagement. This built-in audience is ready to engage and gives brands an opportunity to become relevant again.

Two-way or no way

The rise of social media and direct messaging apps has taught us quite a bit about our evolving culture. One important attribute to note is our desire to engage in relationships, even if they are becoming increasingly virtual.

Although we may not ever see the majority of our “friends” and followers we have on our social media apps beyond posts and pictures, we feel connected nonetheless. We may not need to engage in a telephone conversation because we now have ways to interact through texting, instant messaging and social media comments and posts.

The same is following suit with our interactions with brands. A recent study found that consumers now prefer to contact brands through messaging apps rather than calling 800 numbers or sending emails.

Messaging apps enable a two-way dialogue with a customer-service representative, salesperson, billing rep or technical support expert without ever sitting on hold on the phone or waiting for an email response. It’s easier, more convenient and there’s usually a way to receive a transcript of the entire conversation for record.

With every one-on-one conversation we have with a brand, there is an opportunity for that brand to further develop a relationship with us. Personal dialog is a brand’s best bet to establish rapport, trust and loyalty. It requires companies to shift from one-way to two-way, from email blasts and social media broadcasts to one-on-one, real-time, personalized dialog.

Remaining competitive in a selective world

Consumers do not want loud messages shouting through the noise. It only serves to annoy them. Customers have learned to ignore, block or delete our interruption advertising because it is just that—an interruption. Technology has enabled us to curate our own information, easily filtering that which isn’t relevant or doesn’t interest us. We can decide what, when, how and from whom we will receive information. Every marketer must grasp the fact that the squeakiest wheel no longer gets the grease; it gets the boot.

Consumers have become selective. To remain competitive, brands need to increase their relevancy and frequency of communications, yet still influence purchase decisions. Social media engagement must move beyond eliciting likes, shares and emojis to making real connections with consumers.

Brands can expand their identities while at the same time inspiring consumers to take action. It isn’t going to happen in a public forum. It’s going to require personalized messaging delivered in a private conversation.

Modern marketing requires dialog

For brands, the ability to have an ongoing dialog with customers means greater engagement and transactions. Customers are seeking instant, real-time support. They don’t want to wait for response in email, and they aren’t willing to go through multiple steps to speak with an agent on the phone.