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The Digital Connection and Marketing Trends
Brands take experiential marketing to the next level with digital activations
By Lauren Durant and Brendan Powell of Isilumko Activate
Keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of marketing can be difficult. There’s always something new to learn about and experiment with. The arrival of social media years ago has had the most profound impact on the industry, changing the way in which consumers view advertising. No longer willing to accept simplistic push-marketing tactics, customers want to engage with a brand and in many instances initiate the interaction as a result of personal attitudes and behaviours. This engagement becomes a conversation that clever marketers have learned to own within the digital marketing space. While digital channels are without a doubt very effective for customer communication, a growing trend amongst brands is to create a customer experience that’s more holistic. Innovative brands seek to blur the lines between on-and off-line conversations. One might wonder how these two worlds can be brought together but by adding interactive brand activations to the digital marketing mix, powerful data is paired with the personal touch.
Activations allow customers to connect with a brand in a very intimate way. When applied successfully, the experience stimulates multiple senses and emotions that make the interaction memorable. Ultimately, the customer will want to share their experience with others and this is often done through digital channels. Activation thus ties real world engagement to the digital arena. For example, nowadays, promoters in retail environments are often seen using tablets to engage with shoppers – whether it’s to explore the merits of a product or to help with the submission of an entry to an online competition. Nothing is more powerful than a real-life experience. It shapes beliefs, creates bonds and trust – because it’s real. Brand engagement is therefore at its most influential when a multi-touch point marketing solution is implemented. In the real world, a customer standing inside a store is using their smart phone to access information that will guide their purchasing decision. Some tech savvy retailers now encourage their customers to download an App that provides a discount code, which can be redeemed at the pay point, against some goods in store. Thus in the real world brand activators motivate and explain to shoppers how they can download the App and receive their discounts. This interpersonal engagement is then supported by benefits offered in the digital arena.
Engaging with consumers in this manner also allows brands the opportunity to capture key data on their target audiences. Data is streaming from customers right now. It’s streaming from their phones, their social media platforms, their workstations and even their cars. For every marketer, this is an opportunity to tap into big data and use it effectively to deploy personalised campaigns that can instantly increase the value offered to consumers.
Whether on- or off-line, information and services are available at the precise moment they’re wanted. Quick moments of decision making occur continuously throughout the day and the more connected the customer is, the more they’ll happen. Collaboration between digital and activations agencies is a no-brainer for brands seeking a succinct strategic approach to marketing in this digital age.
New services, platforms and software to plan, manage and optimise campaigns, will continue to change the marketing landscape. Some key industry trends for the future include:
1. Increased co-operation between digital marketing and brand activation – the proverbial match made in heaven.
2. Brand Pairing – where the experience of two or three brands complimenting one another, makes more sense for the consumer (and unlocks efficiencies).
3. International producers building closer ties with local activations partners.
4. Growing demand for activation in Africa Marketing strategies at Point of Sale becoming more critical than ever (path to purchase).