As technology evolves, so do the tools available to marketers. Though this is typically identified as a positive contribution to the world of marketing, careful consideration of how these tools are used is necessary in order to prevent negative reactions from the target market.
If the technology available to the marketers is not being utilized correctly, or worse, if the marketing technology becomes seen as an annoyance, your marketing program may be significantly impacted. Moreover, your company may financially suffer from the wasted time, money, and effort of the marketing team.
Altogether, any harmful aspects associated with marketing technology are avoidable outcomes if the technology is utilized in the right way.
Which technologies make the largest impact?
Many tech tools available to marketers can be a double-edged sword. For example, the technology associated with Facebook or Twitter can be helpful or harmful depending on how it is used.
If a company utilizes it correctly, they have the ability to form positive communication between people who have most likely “liked’’ or “followed” their page. Accordingly, these customers have performed an invaluable task of self-identifying as the target consumer, and provided a medium they can be reached.
This is a critical dynamic, and Facebook and Twitter make it easy for the marketers to perform what used to be a complicated and expensive task. However, if the brand or company posts too much content, not enough content, the wrong kind of content, or worse, participates in an unfavorable public relations exchange, they will immediately lose the priceless connection they had created.
As Connor Simpson and Rebecca Greenfield of The Wire reported, the clothing retailer, Gap, experienced severe backlash from their twitter followers after they were perceived to have made light of Hurricane Sandy with a tweet meant to drive traffic to their site. Though they did apologize, saying their intentions were good, Gap’s initial tweet continued to be criticized even beyond Twitter.
This kind of scenario demonstrates that there is a careful balance that must be identified in order to successfully communicate on social media.
Apps are another potential source of harm when it comes to technology utilization in marketing.
This is another example of a time where consumers have elected to receive information and communication from specific brands. If an app is outdated, difficult to use, hard to function, or not providing the content the consumer was hoping for, the marketing team has essentially created a disconnect.
The marketing team undoubtedly benefits from the app being downloaded, but how does the consumer measure the benefit?
The app must provide the content they want, in the manner they want it, or they simply will not use the app. Worse, they may delete the app, and not ever attempt to re-download it in the future, even if significant improvements are made.
They have already been given the impression that the app is not giving them what they want. Therefore, it is as though the brand producing the app has a limited opportunity of time to demonstrate the value in the app, and keep customers coming back to it.
To keep customers coming back, marketers can promote new and exciting ways for the customers to interact with their brand. For example, Amit Chowdhry of Forbes.com reported that Taco Bell initially promoted interest in their app by “blacking out” other forms of media like Facebook and Twitter, in order to direct their fans to their newest platform on the app. From there, customers who had the app were informed that Taco Bell was now offering mobile ordering, the ability to pay straight from the app, and the chance to avoid waiting in line once they arrived to the store.
These kind of features are the kind that add direct value to the customer, and keep them not only returning to the app, but also generate business and profits.
Additionally, marketers still need to be sure that they are not relying on a vulnerable form of marketing technology when attempting to reach their market.
The greatest example of this may be email, due to its susceptibility to lose value as it relates to business to consumer interactions, due especially to the prevalence and efficiency of the spam filter. When a company has a mailing list, that list is critical in ensuring their email marketing campaign meets the people who are most likely to act on that campaign.
However, email technology is not as conducive to marketing as it once was.
Tatyana Shcherbakova, Maria Vergelis, Nadezhda Demidova of Kaspersky Lab reported that “In Q1 2015, the proportion of spam in email traffic was 59.2%.” How “spam” is defined is often up to a customer’s email client.
For example, Rick Broida of pcworld.com stated that he had an encounter where upon checking his spam folder, he discovered “some marketing emails I actually wanted, from companies I'd agreed to let contact me” had been misidentified as spam. In spite of his desire to receive communication from the brand, his spam filter never let the message get to his inbox, so he never got the message.
This is an example of someone who simply stumbled upon this information, so imagine how many messages are filtered out without the receiver ever happening to discover there was a problem with their spam filter in the first place. The careful connection the brand had intended to create via email is lost.
To leave your message up to the fate of how your customer’s spam filter defines “spam” is a costly mistake. However, this can be remedied if a business is able to educate users of the situation, where customers are made aware of the potential for their spam filter to interfere with a message they have elected to receive. Businesses must be proactive in encouraging users to add their business to their spam filter whitelist. To a business with emails that offer promotions and other value-drivers to the message, getting customers to identify their messages as legitimate can be something the customer is happy to do.
Effective marketing leads to increased sales. At minimum, a company must break-even in their costs associated with marketing, but ideally they should be profitable. If a company is spending money on marketing, only to not realize any increased sales or revenue from that expenditure, it will be reflected in the company’s bottom line.
Technology is something that can become a critical part of a marketing program, and it is important to recognize that there is a chance it could hurt a business, just as much as it can help it. A business must identify the best way to reach their individual markets, and apply the technology accordingly.
Therefore, the technology available today must be handled in a manner that consistently creates value to the customer.