I was reading an article recently, and I apologize because I don’t remember what or where it was to share it, but the crux of the article was times have never been better, and the good ole days weren’t so grand. The conveniences of modern life can fill books, but what most people think they despise, actually benefits them. An easy example is profiling via personal internet activity from Google to Amazon, to even your internet service provider.
Who doesn’t like autofill provided by Google? What about saving credit card data so I can sit on my bum instead of reaching for my wallet and typing 20 digits into a browser and getting it wrong 50% of the time? How about sunscreen? I don’t need it till the weekend, and I don’t want to plow through stops signs, traffic lights, and search through Walgreens, or simply take a right turn at Walmart on the way home and rummage through their 200,000 square foot sea of crap. Hello Amazon Prime (or the even more impressive, Amazon Prime Now)!
Google, and especially Amazon for me, have perfect profiles of who I am – height, weight, hobbies, cars I drive, the lawnmower I use, interests, relatives, friends, and how many and the types of people that live in my house. Benefits include gobs of saved time and timely information.
Gee, it reminds me of marketing and sales for energy efficiency. People are ok with marketing, but the word sales tends to make most people run for the exits. Can you imagine stopping what you are busy doing at home to entertain a door to door sales person to buy cosmetics? Today, that is insane, but I experienced it as a kid. No. Jeff was not buying lipstick and eyeshadow, but my mother did.
Folks like convenience, information, and even entertainment from their vendors. Why are utilities afraid of something like Google or Amazon profiling? Look, it’s a service! Modern sales is a service today. The Avon lady, Prudence was her name (I’m not making that up), wasted my mother’s time, if you ask me. Today, sales would make Mom’s life easier, not take 45 minute chunks of her life she will never get back. Sales should free up her time and save her money. Does this sound anything like what an energy efficiency program should do? Hyaaaaah! (spoken with valley girl accent)
Automated Inbound Marketing
Hey guys, Kristin Laursen joining Jeff again this week. Hopefully that valley girl comment wasn’t Jeff’s way of introducing me. 🙂 I’m here to chat a bit about inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a process for connecting with potential customers before they’re ready to buy or even looking to buy, through attention-grabbing content. The key here is that content must be relevant and helpful, and not interruptive. It’s delivered through channels like blogs, search engines, social media, webinars, online events, and more.
But why is it important and how can you make it work for you? As I mentioned a couple weeks ago in Customer Engagement – Get with it or Get Lost, customers want interactions with brands on their terms and timelines. This includes communications about their energy use and energy programs. We have tons of data available to tell us just what those terms are, and what our customers want to see. In fact, according to IBM, we now create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. That’s pretty much an incomprehensible amount. It’s so much data that 90% of the world’s data has been created in just the last two years. The data is there, begging us to create a strategy that uses it to speak to our customers and convert them into program participants.
When creating an inbound strategy, it’s important to remember that inbound approaches work best in parallel, not as independent channels. Social media brings additional readers and attention to blogs as people share things they find useful. SEO (search engine optimization) brings organic traffic to our blogs or whitepapers. Blogs and social media are used to bring participants to online events and webinars. A solid strategy should create a continuous experience for the customer, across many channels, and deliver content they’re truly interested in at the right time for them.
This may seem daunting, and many of you may be thinking, “I don’t have staff available to track our customers’ every moves to deliver relevant content with each page click or related search.” But you don’t have to do it all yourselves. There are tools like marketing automation and predictive content available to remove some of the burden.
Marketing automation uses software to automate processes like segmentation, campaign delivery, data integration, and other repetitive actions to simplify the delivery of content and save all of us time. Predictive content uses predictive analytics to help deliver the right content to the right person…at the right time. It taps into the troves of available data and uses customer profiles and behavioral patterns to take them through their own personal journey.
These tools help alleviate some of the pressure of figuring out when and how to deliver the content that will best speak to our customers. We just have to create the content, which is another topic for another day.
If you’re interested in some of the providers of this type of software, you can download a comparison of the top 10 in 2017 here.