One of the most signification changes in marketing over recent years has been brought about by improvements in technology. This is the move from broad and generalised marketing messages to the specific and hyper-personal.
Back in the Mad Men era, one ad was produced that had to influence everyone who saw it. Then, twenty years ago, companies started to personalise direct mail and regionalise advertising – and ten years ago to tightly target their marketing to create a personalised client experience.
Today we have location-based marketing, remarketing and websites and apps which adapt and engage with clients on an almost one to one level. Apps can play a crucial role in this form of individualised marketing; an amazing way for companies to engage with clients – as they want, when they want – and if done correctly.
The key is to make that engagement as natural and involving as possible. When it interrupts, distorts, or tries to impose its own needs on people – client engagement will, at best, be a short term change – a blip in customer behaviour. At worst, done badly, it could turn sentiment against the supplier, being seen as an unwelcome and demanding intrusion.
To be really genuinely useful an app has to either seamlessly fit into the customer’s life, or gradually adapt in a way that will influence and moderate behaviour and change activity. It must provide value – save time, or money, or make life easier or better in some way.
Yes, there will always be game-changers, apps or advertisements that will take the world by storm and alter the way that audiences behave, but they are rare and genuinely hard to predict. So the best route for companies is to avoid the generic, to truly understand the audience being targeted and build highly specific apps around their needs.
Apps needn’t be complex – they just need to bring obvious benefits. For example, the construction expert witness group Diales created an app so that clients could identify its experts anywhere at any time by word-searches on global presence, industry sector and specific skills – taking the client directly to the CV and contact details of key experts without the need to go through a call centre or sales/marketing contacts. Simple, but effective.
In marketing terms, this is called creating engagement through integration with the customer. Here in the 21st century with its wars and recessions, collapsing oil price and growing competition – its just common sense.