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History vs Now: Marketing to an Ever-Changing Audience

3 min
First published:  
July 14, 2020
Justis Saayman
Head of Marketing @ telbee
 - a.k.a - 
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If there’s one thing for certain in Marketing, it’s that consumers’ wants and needs are constantly changing. And keeping this in mind when planning out your Marketing strategy could not be more crucial! 

In an increasingly digital world, consumers are picking up on new trends faster than they ever were before. And as Marketers, we need to be constantly seeking out, listening to and acting on this data.

Today, we’ll be diving into why brands often struggle to keep up with changes in their customers’ behaviour and preferences - and how taking newer data into account could alter the very foundation of your marketing strategy (for the better!). 

Consumers are adapting to new technologies more quickly than ever 

It’s no surprise that the rate at which we’re adapting to new technologies is speeding up more and more each year. 

Just take a look at this graph from The Atlantic, which shows how much faster consumption spreads today than it did a hundred years back:   

marketing strategy
Image source: 

As this graph shows, some of the technologies which set the foundation for our tech-saturated society were initially a bit slow to catch on! 

It took about 24 years until motor cars were the norm - and 15 years for the mobile phone to be fully adopted. Even the internet took 14-15 years to gain traction with modern consumers! 

But it seems that in recent years - likely thanks to the internet itself - new tools, ideas and technologies spread like wildfire among modern consumers. 

Take the sudden emergence and popularity of voice tech, for example. 

Google’s Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa were only released in 2014 and 2016 respectively, but VoiceBot recently reported that 66 million Americans now own a smart speaker.

Similarly, while Instagram has only been around since 2010, it’s rarer nowadays to find a millennial who doesn’t have an account on the platform, and although Tik Tok only burst onto the scene in 2018, Wallaroo recently reported that the app has now amassed a staggering one billion users worldwide. 

Clearly, consumers’ preferences are swayed hugely - and quickly - by the latest developments in technology. 

The question for us is: How should we market to this ever-changing audience?

Brands often focus on consumers’ historical preferences

Having worked with a pretty wide range of businesses throughout my career, I’ve always found it interesting how views on this topic differ so much from brand to brand and industry to industry.

For example, a few years back, I worked with a brand who felt that only looking at historical purchase behaviour would show what their audience wanted to see next. 

While this holds true in recommending additional services and products, I’d always recommend that brands check whether this historical data correlates with how their customers are engaging with them in the present moment. 

The reason this brand’s attitude towards this topic intrigued me so much is that even though they had the capability to track their visitors’ current browsing behaviour - using surveys and heatmapping tools - they did not want to, as it complicated the system they had in place.

Because of this, the brand found it difficult to adapt to and keep up with their customers’ constantly changing desires

marketing strategy

However, another online retailer who I worked with more recently was far more open-minded when it came to listening to their customers in the here and now. And they actually became a shining example of the positive effects of taking more recent customer behaviours into account

This brand started taking into consideration what customers were searching for on the website, and then began putting those products up for sale on their homepage (instead of simply recommending products based on customers’ previous purchase behaviours).

The result? After a simple test, the brand noticed a triple digit increase in their sales for that year! 

The staggering success of this experiment proved to me what I’d always suspected was true - that listening to your customers in the present moment is the key to keeping your marketing strategy fresh, relevant and effective

So, if you take anything from this article, let it be this: 

In Marketing, the priority has to be listening to what your customers want right now. There’s certainly a lot to be learned from your customers’ historical engagement with your brand, but your priority should always be to look to the future - and to ask your customers what they want from you right now - rather than looking over your shoulder at what they used to prefer. 

Keeping up with your customers’ changing behaviours 

Personally, I think that analysing data is key to finetuning any successful marketing strategy - and brands should be making use of all the information about their customers’ preferences that they can get their hands on. 

In other words, you should always be looking to test and identify trends in consumers’ current - as well as past - behaviour.

While monitoring your customers’ previous engagement and interests is important - especially when it comes to cross-selling or upselling - it’s important to remember that your audience is constantly changing. This means that more recent data is often just as - if not more - valuable and relevant

In fact, identifying recent changes in your core segment’s online behaviour or engagements (purchases) could alter the very foundation of your marketing strategy - boosting sales, engagement and customer satisfaction for your brand. 

marketing success

The takeaway

Never assume that your customers want what they wanted a year ago. Remember that modern marketing requires us to be adaptable, flexible and reactive above all else

If you have the opportunity and the ability to track your customers’ behaviour right now - as well as historically - then examining how your audience is engaging you in the present moment should be a top priority for you. 

Keep in mind that a change in browsing behaviour could signal a shift in a customer's mindset - and could be the key to optimising your marketing strategy. 

To find out how our voice messaging platform can enhance your marketing strategy, get in touch with telbee today!

Get Started with telbee!

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