The process of creating new relationships between people shares some similarities with how brands and marketers form strong bonds with their audience. Before digital, mass-marketing strategies like print and TV ads were the best options available to reach their audience. With the emergence of digital marketing (and apps like Tinder), it has become easier to engage in a targeted approach to advertising. That being said, humans are social beings, it's how our species was able to survive the many threats throughout the course of our history. Although we do not face the same threats anymore, we still enjoy the company of others who share the same values and interests as we do.
With the targeting power that we have today and by connecting with an audience that shares the same beliefs, it becomes easier for brands to form a connection with their customers. Interestingly enough, humans operate in a similar way in social interactions. It is simply a matter of being there when it counts, choosing wisely, and accepting that there are plenty of fish in the see.
To be discovered, you need to be visible and accessible. Social media has made it easier than ever to be found and build relationships with your audience, but that also means that it is easier for competitors to do the same.
It is not about being there for everyone, it is about being there for those that matter and those that care.
Do not expect your audience to follow your every call to purchase your product or service. Consumers of today like to be in control of their purchasing journey and do things at their own pace. That being said, consumers of today still appreciate the occasional nudge to remind them that you are still relevant. After they have discovered you and are in the decision-making stage, an example of a nudge can be an abandoned cart email. Shopify estimates that 60-80% of carts are abandoned before a sale is made. You can send an email that reminds them of the products in their cart along with a discount to attract the consumers once thought lost.
Similar to human interactions, trying to please everyone is not going to work and is highly unhealthy. So although testing is important, starting with a broad audience and seeing what sticks is not an effective strategy.
Identify the audience that has a positive attitude about your brand and displays the desired behaviors, these will be your "advocates and storytellers".
To help separate your audience by attitude and behavior, Deloitte has created an effective framework that can be found in the article here.
Existing customers are a great set to start with. It can be easy to get caught in the trap of neglecting your current base of customers as you try to attract new customers, but try to find a good balance. Furthermore, it is easier to retain customers than it is to attract new ones. Give them opportunities and incentives to act as your brand ambassadors and encourage them to share their experience with their network. Not only will it serve to advertise your brand, but it will also give your brand social proof, which can convert non-customers.
As much as we may dislike the idea, even your loyal customers might seek to fulfill similar needs with another brand. It has become easier to start a business and mimic ideas around us and harder to stand out from the crowd.
Brand-switching can sometimes be due to external factors. Often times, brand-switching occurs because people seek to explore other options even if they are satisfied with their current experience.
That being said, having competitors can boost loyalty to your brand. If you show a comparison between you and your competitors and showcase where your strengths lie, it can demonstrate to your audience just how much better you are.
Content credit—Deloitte Insights: Today's relationship dance