Consumers are bombarded with more than 5,000 messages a day. Ninety percent of email and 44 percent of direct mail goes unopened, and only 0.01 percent of banner ads are clicked on.
People don't want to be told to engage, when to engage, and how. Rather, they want to discover and share on their own time, in their own unique way. Only when a consumer falls in love with something does it get a share or a like.
According to a 2014 New York Times Customer Insight Group study, 68 percent of people share content to give others a better sense of who they are and what they care about. There’s a reason that social media is now studied in the anthropology and sociology fields as fundamental to our sense of self and our relationships with one another. Just look at #FOMO or #instajealous.
As this correlation between customer identity and sharing gets even tighter, it behooves marketers to pay attention to the action at its core -- the share.
Get outside of your current customer base
I’m not talking about social media analytics -- those platforms are the wave of the past. But when 90 percent of brand-related shares are driven by only 30 percent of customers, you know they’re not giving you an honest representation of your audience.
Map the content
Shares pay when you can use them to map the buyer’s journey. About 70 percent of the buyer’s journey happens before a potential customer ever contacts sales. But with personal identity and sharing so tethered, it’s becoming more true that the content journey (what is shared) mirrors the buyer’s journey.
If you can see the content trail, you can gain insight into the individual’s motivations, interests, concerns, online patterns and more. You can see areas in which your competition is thriving or where you might be lacking, and then you can pick up the pace.
Tailor your efforts
With a map of an individual’s unique content journey, you’re suddenly able to talk with your customers about what they care about -- not at them with random messages. Knowing the content journey means you actually know what will be helpful to that single individual -- perhaps before they know themselves.
Personalization at scale sounds daunting when you’re looking at a global population of 7B+ but when you know, based on sharing, who is truly influential to your brand, you can focus your efforts more keenly, leading to greater impact.
Knowing the consumers who are influential to your brand as individuals allows you to make better marketing investments across your organization. You can execute this successfully by building -- and buying -- custom or look-alike audiences against a more focused profile or sending out direct mail to people who love to Instagram their swag.
For sales it can mean smarter social selling or better upselling when you know what people are looking for before they tell you. For customer support, it can mean nipping a problem in the bud before it flares out of control or realizing you’re dealing with a hothead before you’re the target of their rage. All of those efforts equal time better spent.
Shares can pay -- big time. They just have to be looked at in a way that's different than how we've been doing it all along. Shares aren't necessarily the goal but the means to an end: understanding your customer.
Marketing analytics is fundamentally changing right now. Shares don’t matter with respect to the vanity metrics that marketers put stock into today. The uniques, page views and engaged time you’re tracking aren’t going to move the needle.
Shares pay when they allow you to know your individual customers and prospects and get ahead of their changing behavior and needs -- before the change occurs.