Redefining Engagement to Understand the Future of Marketing

Published in ClickZ on July 15, 2015.

Media and technology are continuing to merge providing business opportunities that will engage customers in new ways.

Digital marketing transformation is occurring within enterprise companies across the globe as they seek to better understand their stakeholders who have infinitely greater control. This is not new, we knew this shift to the empowered customer has been happening for years, but it seems to have reached a tipping point.

Businesses of all sizes are (truly) embracing the concept of customer centricity and understanding that marketing is no longer a department, because everyone (customers and employees alike) has a voice that can be amplified through social and mobile channels. Every interaction with a customer is part of their experience with your brand. It is why companies are focusing on employee engagement now more than ever - employees are the face of the company to the customer.

Effectively tackling customer engagement today can certainly be overwhelming. Look at this list of over 2,000 marketing technology vendors that's Scott Brinker has compiled.

Above: The Marketing Technology Landscape, January 2015.
Image Credit: Scott Brinker/

And while at VentureBeat's GrowthBeat Summit in Boston last month, Brinker pointedly called out that "the tech is a distraction," but the fact that marketing is changing "in fundamental ways" is what is driving the landscape so radically. We now need to weave a company’s storytelling into digital experience – and digital itself is changing.

Internet-of-Things (IoT) is coming online rapidly. "IoT provides a new channel to reach customers through devices and interaction points", with Goldman Sachs predicting that IoT has the potential to connect 28 billion "things" to the Internet by 2020, ranging from bracelets to cars," says Cynthya Peranandam. This is providing business opportunities to create new revenue streams by effectively engaging customers in new ways.

But let's take a look at some of the near-term changes in the space. LUMA Partners has forecast the top 5 trends for 2015 and beyond are:

  • Programmatic
  • Mobile
  • Omnichannel/personalization
  • Identity
  • Convergent TV

I encourage you to check out LUMA's "State of Digital Media 2015" presentation to understand these trends in detail and how media and technology continue to merge. Review it alongside Mary Meeker's "2015 Internet Trends" report for a full view into current and future state of how we will engage with customers and each other. I find it helpful to stay informed of these trends as they will quickly be upon us to develop strategic engagement strategies as part of our ever-evolving marketing plans.

We live in exciting times and I can't wait to see the incredible marketing that is created on and from these new insights and platforms!

Target, Trend, and Timing: How Victoria’s Secret Marketers Got It Right

I love when I see marketers knock it out of the park!

(It makes for funny TV watching conversation with my husband, when I force him to rewind the DVR back to the commercial so that I watch the nuance, and explain—over the actual show—what made that commercial so great… ha!)

So when I received the Victoria’s Secret PINK back-to-school catalog last week, I was in heaven.The VS marketers really demonstrate my top three marketing mandates:

  1. Know your target market
  2. Stay on trend
  3. Time it just right

VS PINK certainly knows their target market—millennial women. I won’t go into the fashion itself, but I will speak directly to the marketing techniques applied to this particular audience. And this audience is very particular—they know exactly what they want and they’re used to being able to get it with a tap of their fingers. But what really struck me as clever about the back-to-school catalog was the free gift with purchase.

I had just read this great article about millennial demographic preferences that specifically points out the fact that “Millennials love their headphones.” So this (branded) gift with purchase hits that sweet spot with the VS PINK audience and further reinforces the brand.

Love it!

The “on trend” aspect that grabbed me about the catalog was that the graphic designers had tweaked every design element “just so.”

Perfectly on target: flat design, simple graphics, circles, bright colors. The inside pages of the catalog look like you’re shopping on an iPad. And then they sealed the deal with a hashtag tagline on the back cover. All perfectly tuned into their audience.

The timing of this campaign was also seamlessly orchestrated:

  • Day 1 (Wednesday): The VS PINK BTS catalog arrives in the mail with a note that a new PINK store is opening in my area
  • Day 2 (Thursday): A VS PINK BTS email pops up in my inbox with consistent imagery and offers
  • Day 3 (Friday): A VS PINK new store email shows up, reinforcing the catalog mention of the new local store opening
  • Day 4 (Saturday): A VS PINK BTS email follows with consistent imagery to catalog, but different from the first BTS email

So not only did the catalog arrive at just the right time to hit the back-to-school shopper, but the sequence of online and offline marketing touches reinforced the message over time.

Well done, VS PINK marketing team!

Thanks for demonstrating how to execute marketing effectively. I certainly enjoyed it!