For the past 14-plus years, Sylvie Tongco has worked in communications and marketing in the technology world. Spending the majority of her career helping Silicon Valley startups, enterprise companies and venture capital firms unlock their stories to build sustainable and thought-leading positions, she understands the power of a good story.
Today, as the VP of Communications and Corporate Marketing for Selligent Marketing Cloud, she has had a front row seat to the power of all things data. And in a time when personal connection went virtual overnight, Tongco has seen brands work extra hard to lean on the power of things like digital marketing.
“The term ‘engagement’ has become almost purely digital at this point,” she says. “Pressure is building for brands to use data to truly personalize customer experiences and make every interaction relevant to compel consumers to connect with the brand and digest information shared with them. Every brand that wants to succeed during this challenging time can’t afford to look at customer connection as a linear relationship. There are many ways that they can connect with their audiences and should allow for multiple ways for customers to connect with them as well.”
Tongco believes this omnichannel approach goes hand in hand with personalizing the customer journey—brands need to know where they are, how they prefer to connect, and what they care about. That means that using data to create that experience is now at the heart of all marketing.
“Content in the COVID-19 era is what’s driving engagement,” Tongco says. “Companies that pay attention to likes/dislikes and create customer experiences that focus on individualized preferences become more meaningful to their audiences. Only those mutually beneficial relationships will survive long-term. Tailoring content is critical and utilizing smart content platforms as part of the overall digital marketing strategy is an important investment.”
The key will be in paying attention to individualized preferences, which is important for building trust and encouraging brand loyalty. For example, are you sending communication to your customers too often? Is that communication being deleted—or worse—are people unsubscribing?
Tongco says the only way to find the answers is to look at how marketing campaigns are performing and to create strategies that are nimble. Brands that focus on quality and relevance at every point of the customer journey can build trust because customers feel that their preferences are being respected. In turn, they will find the information they receive valuable to them personally.
Part of that information lies in good storytelling, which Tongco believes is at the heart of every successful communication. “Storytelling is probably one of the most powerful tools to engage and connect with consumers. And while face-to-face interactions may have become limited over the last few months and will continue to be scarce moving forward, bringing the ‘human’ aspect to a story is crucial. It’s a highly effective way to reinforce your brand’s values and mission.”
Relatability. Good stories. Authenticity. If you can capture these qualities, your brand will keep its personal connections in a world learning to keep its distance—for now. In the end, now more than ever, consumers want to feel less alone.