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2018: The Year Your Customers Choose Their Own Adventure

It’s the end of 2017, and the landscape of the Internet is becoming so littered with content that we can’t even discern what that landscape truly looks like. Here at On Target, we are big believers in Google’s Zero Moment of Truth Macro Study, which found that, “88 percent of consumers research before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources.” So, what happens when consumers are taking in information from 10.4 sources, but the number of sources they have to choose from keeps multiplying?

Have you ever read a choose-your-own-adventure novel? As you reach the end of each chapter, you choose how you want the story to go and skip to the next relevant chapter. Digital marketing is the next choose-your-own-adventure novel. There is an abundance of content, and not all of it is relevant, so consumers are choosing exactly what they want to experience. What does this mean for brands? In 2018, you’ve got to create stories worth reading in order for consumers to choose your chapter. As a marketing super nerd, I’m constantly finding real-life examples of marketing within my life. A friend of mine, Lisa, recently had a purchasing experience that I am convinced represents the future of content marketing.

Step One: Stimulus

Lisa, decided that it was time for a break; she was going to book a vacation. The time-off request went in, she started budgeting (sayonara to her daily iced coffee), but there was only one thing left to do: choose her destination. As she perused Facebook, she came across a video of Jorge Atramiz telling his story as a professional paraglider and photographer.

She was captured by the stunning visuals of a 360 video which stood out from the rest of her timeline. She connected with his love of nature (she’s one of those yogi types), and shared the video feeling enthusiastic about selecting Hawaii as her destination. The sponsored video targeted directly to her demographic was the perfect stimulus to begin her ZMOT journey. In 2018, businesses need to invest in visual content in order to compete in the digital marketing landscape.

Step Two: The Human Connection

Humans connect, share, and ultimately purchase from other humans. After Lisa decided Hawaii was her destination, she reached out to her friends and family for their opinions and suggestions. Marketing success isn’t achieved by just setting up ads and creating stunning content. It’s about helping your customers create their own stories that they ultimately share with others. Lisa heard from Allie about the week she spent in paradise which included her remarkable stay at a specific hotel on Oahu. When Lisa returned home to her apartment, she pulled out her phone.

Step Three: Digital Assistants and SEO

Lisa’s an iPhone girl, so she used Siri and asked, “What are the best places to visit in Oahu?”

With the ride of voice assistants and longer-tailed keywords and phrases, SEO strategies will need to adapt in 2018. AdWeek estimates that by 2020, “30 percent of web browsing will be done without a screen.” In fact, by 2021, there will be more digital assistants, 7.5 billion, than the world’s current population. Millennials are driving the adoption of voice searches, but we aren’t alone. 62 percent of people are so fond of their digital assistant, they wish it was a real human.

Step Four: Content Marketing, but Better

Lisa landed on an article that was super helpful to her; the article was written by an American couple who also visited Oahu, and they shared which places they’d recommend, which they’d steer clear of next time, and experiences they wish they had time for. The content was dynamic; it included easy-to-read text, but also video tours, time lapses of the sunset, embedded Instagram photos, and even an infographic that outlined the most important items to bring. Lisa went to bookmark the article, and she actually realized that the content was part of the website of the hotel Allie had recommended. At this point, Lisa’s affinity and trust toward the hotel was growing.

Step Five: Customized Remarketing Experience

Every now and then, Lisa calls me with random questions that she thinks pertains to marketing like, “Did McDonald’s choose the colors of red and yellow to make me more hungry so I order more nugs?” or, “I need to complain to Blue Bunny because my neapolitan ice cream had an uneven ratio of chocolate to vanilla and strawberry. How do I tag them on Twitter?” She called me and asked how she was getting a banner ad from the hotel that specifically related back to one of the locations featured in the blog she read.

2018 is going to be the year that customized marketing makes its biggest impact yet. Here’s why: According to Marketo, nearly 80 percent of shoppers say they will only engage with an offer if it is related to how they previously interacted with the brand delivering it.” Ultimately, connections are what lead to customer relationships and sales. Personalized marketing, whether it’s building profiles for customers from gathered data or just simply creating videos that call out your customer’s name, enhances connections which reach a whole new level.

Step Six: Conversion

In the end, Lisa booked her trip to Hawaii, and she decided to stay at the hotel that Allie had initially recommended. When she got in touch with the hotel, their enthusiasm, and professionalism aligned with the persona and relationship they had already created with her during her digital journey. Lisa was super excited, and I’m not going to lie; I was super jealous that I wasn’t going with her!

Step Seven: Create Own Story

When Lisa arrived in Hawaii, the hotel was a perfect home base for all her activities. The accommodations were exactly what she expected, but the staff’s knowledge of the island continued to blow her away. Lisa shared her Hawaii experience on social media, because you can’t go to Hawaii and NOT have it take over your Instagram aesthetic, right?

In today’s digital world, sharing is social currency, and brands that can enable their customers to create their own story end up creating more chapters that can be included in the 10.4 places.

So, when you consider storytelling in 2018, are you wondering what your main goal should be? In 2018, you’ve got to create stories worth reading in order for consumers to choose your chapter. Think about all the chapters of the story. Which ones do you already own, and which would be most beneficial to control? Providing your customers with all the options they need in their choose-your-own-adventure story can be difficult, and that is why so many brands have chosen to partner with On Target. We are experts at digital storytelling, and our whole team has years of experience identifying which chapters you need to own. Our number one goal is to help brands discover their story and share it with the most relevant audience. If you are ready to transform your customer’s journey in 2018, give us a call.