How to Listen, React, and Use Cultural Shifts Appropriately in Your Marketing
Rapid cultural shifts and the propagation of media technologies have rendered many tried-and-true marketing strategies obsolete. These shifts are constant and picking up speed drastically. The global village (or the interconnection of the globe through telecommunications) has made us all much more aware of people and cultures distant from our own, and have also shone a spotlight on the elements of our own society that have been virtually invisible for much of history.
These advancements have made marketing inseparable from technology, which is itself closely knit with modern culture. Facebook has, over the years, made its algorithm more culture-based by prioritizing content and ads that create positive interaction, discussion, direct sharing, and so on. Therefore, selling ideas has become more important in marketing than selling an actual product, which has given the advertising industry more power to influence culture and create cultural change.
In this article, we’ll discuss how your business can honor and implement cultural shifts in your marketing through social responsibility, social listening, segmentation, and more.
1. Advocate for inclusivity, accessibility, and social responsibility
Making the distant and the sidelined more visible and integrated is a particular culture shift that has made implementing accessibility and inclusivity into advertising incredibly important. Not only does aligning with this cause it increase your reach by giving you visibility among people living with various disabilities—and help your brand stand out among traditionally underrepresented groups—it’s also a significant part of the modern culture that values acceptance. Additionally, it is often simply considered the right thing to do.
As more millennials enter the business world and stock markets, socially responsible investing has been rapidly rising in the US since the mid-nineties with one out of every four dollars invested— approximately $12 trillion—has been allocated to sustainable strategies. This number continues to gain traction as socially responsible investors gain more power and authority to demand more transparency, and more socially responsible choices being made within companies when it comes to making marketing and advertising decisions.
2. Practice social listening to understand your audiences
A major shift that we have all been subjected to this year was brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its impact has been immediate and damaging, and believing that it will not have a lasting impact would be foolish.
Apart from the huge move online, it has also fundamentally changed the way we communicate as collective teams, which has had a major impact on developing post-pandemic marketing strategies to adjust and navigate our businesses through a post-COVID world. This new reality will require a full understanding of your post-COVID target audience.
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that because of the massive move online, the opportunities for turning a higher profit with your site are higher than it ever has been before. A whopping 65% of internet users have been fully reliant on online purchases this year, and that number is only expected to grow next year. Data collected through social media and customer surveys are extensive and reliable methods of gaining a better understanding of these customers.
But on the other hand, raw data can only tell you so much. This is where social listening can play a crucial role. Simply put, social listening represents monitoring what people are saying about your brand online. It helps you gauge the customers’ sentiment towards it, identify and prevent a crisis before it fully forms, and jump on opportunities as soon as they arise.
Netflix UK used social listening to figure out how the segmentation of their customer base has changed in 2020—which is something that has immense ramifications on existing marketing strategies. Social media marketing is now considered best used to engage audiences and nurture their trust and connection while the actual sales are best achieved through other means. This however presents the problem of your marketing teams acting too swiftly and overzealously.
While a quick reaction to a rising trend or problem is usually beneficial, it can also compromise the brand image. Social listening should not be utilized without thought and plan. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that culture can’t be thought of only as German, Canadian, Ethiopian, and Chinese. Cultures can differ wildly within the same region between professions, confessions, and hobbies—all of them merit consideration when coming up with a culturally conscious marketing strategy.
Remember, a culture that deeply connects to your brand image reflects your own corporate culture. Getting cross-cultural management right from the start can translate to sales and overall success later down the line. This doesn’t mean that it should never be altered based on information collected, however, it should always be a carefully considered move and not a knee-jerk reaction.
2. Personalize content through customer segmentation
We have already established that social media campaigns should mostly be directed at community-building rather than actual sales. On the other hand, email advertising presents itself as an excellent channel for just that while offering a similar community vibe.
Email marketing can net immense returns for a relatively small investment especially when paired with the ability to personalize the message using information gained through social listening. However, this can easily turn from simple to tricky, depending on the size of your organization.
It is reasonable to assume that for most businesses this is another area in which automation is necessary. This might appear daunting as the idea of automation seems to defeat the idea of personalized marketing, but it’s possible that the two strategies can marry together to create seamless, personal email marketing experiences for customers.
An automated, yet personalized email from the Nir & Far email newsletter.
Another thing to touch upon is the importance of audience segmentation. In the simplest terms, there is very little point in sending a snowmobile ad to someone living in the tropics—segmenting your customers between those that could be interested in this product, and those that almost certainly aren’t is key to retaining subscribers and targeting the right audience.
Email marketing services can be an excellent tool for direct marketing of this type, offering a wide range of free and paid features including customer segmentation so different emails can be sent based on specific factors like culture. However, email segmentation can come with a hefty investment, with Mailchimp in particular charging $250 per month for this feature to be unlocked and other services charging similar prices.
The combination of social media marketing and email marketing is a form of cross-channel marketing, which enables you to connect with audiences across multiple channels and deliver relevant and personalized content. This marketing strategy, when used with social listening data, can create staggering results such as customer retention, increased sales, and brand loyalty.
Stay on top of cultural trends so you can market appropriately
At its core, social listening is about staying ahead of the curve and improving customer relations. Both of these things, while providing a great deal of value, require data-juggling that can prove difficult. While smaller operations could handle this with relative ease, things can get out of hand quickly.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software can be a solution for businesses with multiple tools to support them in handling and managing interactions with different audiences. Social listening isn’t just about collecting information, it is about organizing it in such a way that helps you better understand, react, and plan for your future marketing campaigns.