Retail

Beyond the bend: How offbeat engagement strategies can help brands unlock improved communication opportunities


It will not be an understatement to say that marketing has undergone an irrevocable transformation – a change that reflects most prominently in the brand communications space.

Instead of pushing one-way messages in the name of customer outreach, businesses across the globe are now exploring opportunities to initiate organic two-way engagement with their target audiences. The accelerating fervour around live audio is part of this growing trend, as demonstrated by the rise of new social audio apps such as Clubhouse and Greenroom as well as the introduction of dedicated audio rooms by established social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

With brands exploring the momentum of this development, it behoves us to ask: does this mark the dawn of a new era of ‘Audio as a Service’ for audience engagement?

Before answering this question, it is essential to understand how brands are using social listening to improve engagement and inform business strategies.

More than meets the eye: How social listening is unlocking a new wave of business strategies
While communication has traditionally been about businesses speaking to their customers, modern brands are progressively tailoring their interactions to their audience’s preferences, sensibilities, and interests by listening to them. Research suggests that 96% of unsatisfied customers are more inclined to share the story of their disappointment with 15 of their friends rather than the brand itself. Therefore, digital channels such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook have become crucial information sources for brands to capture the sentiment and informal feedback from their customers.

The concept is not new; brands have been improving customer experiences by listening in on their social conversations for years. Take the example of L’Oreal, which used social listening to “fuel its product development cycle” and capture the pulse of social media conversations, especially YouTube, to identify the issues and opinions of its customers. The brand combined trend analysis with expert insights to launch its new product in 2011 to great success.

However, as personalization becomes a non-negotiable requirement for customer engagement in the post-pandemic landscape, brands are realizing the need to maximize the quality and depth of their data. Consequently, audio platforms are becoming integral to the brand communication arsenal, which already includes omnichannel engagement hubs, CPaaS-based conversation management platforms, and automated chatbots. The idea? To deliver the right content to the right customer over the right platform at the right time.

The ears have it: Delivering personalized, relevant, and topical audio engagement experiences
Audio platforms are different from other communication channels in three main respects. To begin with, they can be used to initiate 1:1 conversation while simultaneously driving many engagements. Apps such as Clubhouse are prime examples of this approach; while a speaker typically talks to one individual at a time, the message is delivered to all participants present in the discussion.

Moreover, since anyone can be a speaker, these apps facilitate the unique opportunity to accommodate multiple perspectives that drive organic, real-time shifts in the discussion. Not only does this approach improve engagement but also enhances the depth, breadth, and quality of audience insights that brands can extract and utilize to drive better outcomes.

Then there is the ability to drop into interesting conversations. This, to an extent, is already in vogue on social media, where brands prompt and participate in conversations, both with other brands as well as individual users, over posts and comments. However, such engagement, meme worthy as it is, lacks the human touch inherent in live audio conversations. The brand is no longer a faceless entity but a human voice that complements wit with warmth – leading to more positive associations amongst the audience.

Last but not the least is the seamlessness of audio engagement channels such as podcasts, which require only a passive involvement from the target audience. These channels allow brands to communicate their value propositions unobtrusively while subtly establishing their domain leadership.

An integrated omnichannel approach helps brands capture the sociocultural sentiments of their TG and augment the analytics aimed at segmenting the demographics into relevant persona buckets. Armed with such information, brands can devise and execute campaigns that are not just contextually relevant, timely, and personalized but also driven by empathy.

Beyond personalization: Communicating brand values to enrich engagement
In the post-2020 landscape, it has become a priority for brands to account for the customer’s emotions, the stressors affecting their lives, their desired digital and real-world experiences, as well as the current trends. This is precisely where an omnichannel approach – involving both traditional and offbeat channels – can help modern enterprises.

Today, customers demand that companies become more than vehicles of capitalism and shareholder values. According to recent research, 89% of people expect companies to clearly state their values and 90% want them to act on them. Brands need to think beyond analytics and consider the new, offbeat channels not merely as sources of data but as the mediums to drive discussions and trigger discourses on important social, cultural, environmental, and even political issues. In doing so, brands cannot just drive better business outcomes but also pay their civic dues as key stakeholders of society. The efficacy of this approach lies in its ability to render a real-time, relevant, and personalized engagement experience over unconventional channels while being subordinate to progressive causes that can make a difference in the lives of the marginalized as well as create a better, healthier, and more prosperous world for posterity.

This strategy allows brands to reach out to the demographics that typically do not comprise the active user base of popular social media platforms where the primary mode of communication is limited to mainstream languages and cultures. At the same time, by tying communication efforts with regional languages, brands can boost loyalty among the customers who straddle the two worlds: the urban and regional, the digital natives and newcomer netizens, the academic-minded and the curious.

Social listening has emerged as an effective tool for brands to know their customers truly. During the pandemic, about half of the marketers worldwide began leveraging social listening to understand the changing customer preferences. More than half (63%) of social media marketers believe that listening will become more important in the coming years. With a new wave of consumerization rippling through the digital space, brands must leverage a strategic combination of conventional communication channels and unconventional media to better reach their TG in the most relevant way possible. Engagement, if done right, can unlock superlative communication opportunities.

As businesses start embracing audio format content as a part of their outreach strategy, it is safe to say that the era of ‘Audio as a Service’ has already begun unfolding. The ways of delivering distinct and diversified content personalized for each customer type are endless. The question is whether brands would prefer to be early adopters, tap into the advantages offered by the new developments, and ride the new wave of innovation or potentially risk failing to capitalize on the next communications trend.

Sudhish Sitaram is Regional Head of Marketing – India, Infobip.



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.