Amid the pandemic and a year of uncertain changes, many businesses of all sizes have had to quickly adapt and change. As remote work becomes the new norm and consumers spend more time online, our world has changed to an all-digital dependent world. However, driving engagement in an all-digital world doesn’t mean having to fully transform your small and medium business. What it does mean is leveraging technology to meet your customers where they are. A recent report from the Connected Commerce Council highlighted how, “76% of American Small Businesses are relying on digital technology to run their business”, which speaks to the increasing importance of embracing digital engagement right now.
Marketers are facing a pivotal moment. With rapid shifts in customer expectations and behaviors, marketers have the opportunity to rethink how they connect with their customers in this all-digital, work from anywhere world. In July, Salesforce & Third Door Media hosted a panel on the topic with VP of AMER Marketing of Salesforce, Meghan Gendelman, and Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, CEO & Cofounder of Amesite, an award winning artificial intelligence software company focused on improving learning. Key discussion points on the role of marketing in an all-digital world as it pertains to SMBs revolved around three main areas:
Personalized engagement with a focus on empathy is crucial as customer expectations continue to shift in the “new normal”. Marketing strategies that lead with empathy and focus on the customer are helping many small and growing businesses stay connected with current customers and reach new ones.
Some key tenets of empathetic digital marketing include:
- Email with Compassion – Clarity in communication is essential, so keep your emails clear and concise.
- Use Content to stay Connected – Create a landing page that gathers business updates and essential resources to further help support your customers during this time.
- Host a virtual event that builds community – Virtual events are a great way to maintain and build community, and often require fewer resources to spin up than in-person gatherings. As you plan, think about why you’re putting the virtual event in first place, who your target audience is and what content would your customers or prospects be more interested in learning.
- Stay positive on social – Include uplifting advice to help keep your audience moving forward despite the difficult times
“This year we’ve seen more headwinds and challenges than ever before. As marketers, we found ourselves pivoting our message to be humble and helpful, while also maintaining relevance as we shift how we approach our customers. We’re doing this while our marketing strategies and tactics have shifted to be all-digital”.
Meghan Gendelman | Salesforce
Engaging Online Experiences
Your ideal buyer is online now more than ever, and as marketers we have to meet them where they are. It’s important to create online experiences that will keep your ideal target audience engaged. One approach to enhancing online engagement is through experimentation. Many small and medium businesses are experimenting with different engagement tactics, such as:
- Pivoting to a virtual events strategy – Pro Tip: Bite-sized content and brain breaks help attendees stay engaged.
- Trying new social media tactics – Experiment with new content like Instagram Stories, try partnering with influencers, and share your content across different social media platforms to see what resonates.
- Setting up a help center – A help center is a great way to stay connected and support your customers by giving them the most up to date information on your business, e.g. up-to-date hours, contact forms.
- Creating short video content – More businesses are experimenting with using video content to market their products and services. Consider trying some influencer reviews or how-to content, to name a few.
“Social media [have] the ability to engage people for long periods of time with compelling relevant content. So in our software, we try to use those lessons to really help engage kids. When we design engaging online experiences, whether they’re educational or other experiences, we should be thinking about why people are joining the virtual classroom. And is it adding value? Same can be applied for how any SMEs approach engaging online experiences.”
Dr. Ann Marie Sastry | Amesite
Align Your Teams to Create Better Customer Experiences
In Salesforce’s recent State of Marketing report, 69% of customers said they expect connected experiences across the different teams they interact with, such as sales and service.
The best way to remediate this is by making sure that teams like sales and marketing are working on the same platform, off of the same data, and collaborating, consistently. Sixty-three percent of marketers said they use the same CRM system as their sales and service teams to enhance cross team collaboration. Many SMBs are looking to various technologies with the best integrations, like Salesforce CRM and Pardot, our marketing automation solution, to help them drive alignment across teams and have a 360 degree view of the customer.
“We have made some changes with technology this year, Pardot, which has really helped us. We found that there, there are more octaves on the piano to play in our digital marketing tools with Salesforce and Pardot and that’s caused us to be more granular in how we create assets, and drive social engagement. At Amesite, we don’t think of sales and marketing as separate. Sales and marketing work closely with product. We think that’s really important because every time we learn something, we want the key teams to be aligned and adapt quickly.”
Dr. Ann Marie Sastry | Amesite
The role of marketing in this all-digital world has fostered more experimentation and innovation, and boost in technology in order to help small and medium business marketers meet their customers where they are. To learn more about the marketing automation, visit pardot.com.
This post is a part of our SMB Success Series. Stay tuned for monthly blog posts to drive your small business growth!