Courtney McKleeven, Vice President, Industry Lead, Yahoo, explored what consumers now expect from brands and how marketers can best meet these expectations with their digital marketing strategies in order to maintain credibility in her presentation to Argyle's CMO membership at the 2017 Leadership in Digital Marketing Forum in San Francisco on June 8. In her presentation, "Keeping Credibility with Consumers in the Digital Age," McKleeven described why maintaining credibility with consumers in the digital landscape and delivering seamless, relevant brand experiences are top of mind for marketers.
According to McKleeven, storytelling plays an important role in how marketers foster trust with consumers, a trend that is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.
At the same time, digital technologies are reshaping the way that marketers and consumers interact with one another.
Today's always-on, always-connected consumers want timely, relevant content in real-time. Marketers, meanwhile, are responsible for providing this authentic content to consumers, or put a brand at risk of falling behind its rivals in a fierce global marketplace.
"It's all about connecting the authenticity of the brand with the stories that you're telling," McKleeven stated.
Furthermore, consumers can choose from a wide range of content from myriad brands, and marketers must ensure all content they produce delivers value to consumers.
"There are so many challenges because there is so much content availability and supply," McKleeven said.
"Relevancy is very tied to moments. Content is created, but consumers have moments."
With the right approach to storytelling, marketers can engage with consumers and share pertinent insights with them. Then, marketers can lay the foundation for long-lasting customer partnerships, McKleeven indicated.
"Storytelling builds human connections. When it comes to the brand and the images behind them, they're about human connections," she noted.
How marketers build relationships with consumers may dictate a company's success both now and in the future.
Marketers who take a customer-first approach may be better equipped than others to learn about a target audience and provide them with superior products, services and support. On the other hand, marketers who lack customer insights are unlikely to differentiate their brands from the competition, thereby missing out on opportunities to boost consumer loyalty and retention.
"You need to think about what's authentic to you and create a relationship with your customers," McKleeven pointed out.
Although marketers have a vast array of digital technologies at their disposal, these professionals must keep in mind that state-of-the-art tools fail to provide surefire solutions.
Instead, marketers must engage with consumers, learn from them and provide comprehensive insights to help consumers make informed decisions about a brand.
"We fancy ourselves as marketers to create all of these fancy things with what we have, and consumers have opinions about it," McKleeven said. "Consumers aren't afraid to make decisions about what they see."
Moreover, marketers must be able to provide consumers with the information they need, exactly when they need it.
"Storytelling builds human connections. When it comes to the brand and the images behind them, they're about human connections."
If marketers understand the importance of relevant content, they can create unforgettable moments that can help a company stand out from the competition.
"Relevancy is defined by different people in different ways. But in this context, it's about speaking to me at where I am in my life," McKleeven indicated. "Relevancy is very tied to moments. Content is created, but consumers have moments."
McKleeven also pointed out that today's consumers are unlikely to commit significant time and resources to study a brand in detail. Conversely, consumers may engage with a brand if it provides them with the information they need at a given moment in time.
As such, marketers are responsible for engaging consumers quickly, and doing so could make a world of difference for businesses of all sizes and across all industries.
"You basically have three seconds to get someone's attention," McKleeven stated. "In that moment, if something captures the consumer's attention and you can get their eye for three seconds, that's it."
Recent research shows native advertising is proven to deliver immediate and long-term results and can serve as the basis of a successful digital marketing strategy.
"We see a direct impact on what an advertiser says and does in the native experience versus how the advertiser is perceived by consumers," McKleeven said. "This is really, really meaningful when you think about what you're doing as marketers."
In addition, marketers must constantly search for ways to engage consumers and gain insights from them. By doing so, marketers can use the insights at their disposal to connect with consumers and enhance a company's customer interactions.
"Consumers have discerning taste," McKleeven pointed out. "They realize that so much of what they get is in their control, and they choose."
Courtney McKlveen is Vice President and Industry Lead for the retail, travel and QSR categories at Yahoo. A seasoned media professional, Courtney has over a decade of leadership experience across digital media strategy and partnerships. In her current role, she leads national sales for Retail, Travel and QSR marketers to drive innovation and results for their brands. Since joining Yahoo in 2009, Courtney has led regional and national advertising sales teams with a focus on building strategic long-term partnerships. Previously, Courtney held a sales leadership role on the executive staff at Twelvefold Media. Courtney is on the board of governors for the San Francisco Bay Area Innovation Group. She has a bachelor's degree in political science from Western Washington University, is an avid runner and now resides in the Bay Area with her family.