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From Boomers to Zoomers: Creating Meaningful Customer Connections Across All Ages

Creating Meaningful Customer Connections

Creating Meaningful Customer Connections

As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series—a collection of articles written by industry thought leaders in maturing software categories—Robert Rothschild, the CMO of Botify, compiled some insights, in Q&A form, on how companies can create meaningful customer connections with audiences of all demographics.

Creating lasting customer connections with a target audience can be challenging, especially since different demographics spend time on various platforms. This becomes especially tricky when companies have to curate experiences that speak to people of multiple age demographics, which Robert Rothschild, the CMO of Botify, knows all about. With that in mind, he’s curated a Q&A to answer some questions about what a brand can do to develop, deliver, and maintain customer connections with people of all ages, preferences, and expectations.

Thanks for your time in chatting with us, Robert. Why don’t you set the stage for us today? What are the current, most pressing challenges facing marketers today when trying to authentically connect with customers of all ages? 

As in any industry right now, marketing is facing the impact of an uncertain economy. What’s interesting is this came right at the peak of marketing’s digital transformation, meaning unprecedented growth in spending and tech stacks took place. In this new era of constrained budgets, 71 percent of CMOs believe they lack the funding needed to properly execute their marketing strategy. As they contend with this reversal, their marketing must be more strategic when attempting to reach customers with fewer resources available. 

Every generation has different preferences, and as we know, Gen Z holds significant purchasing power in this day and age. It’s no surprise to marketers that Gen Z and Boomers require different techniques to connect with them, which is obviously causing additional stress in times of tightened budgets. Gen Z relies more heavily on social media than traditional search but also values authentic content, which can be challenging for some brands.  

Without the same level of resources they previously had, marketers are struggling with creating compelling content that resonates deeply with this highly influential generation without alienating their older counterparts. The good news is that historically, times marked with limiting constraints and new challenges are often those that produce unparalleled innovation and creativity. 

As you hit upon, marketers are facing tightened budgets right now as a result of the looming economic uncertainty. With that in mind, how can marketing teams get scrappy when it comes to creating authentic content that improve customer connections across every generation? 

One thing has become increasingly clear: brands can no longer rely on traditional marketing and advertising approaches alone to reach today’s astute consumers. A new report shows that nearly 90 percent of consumers prefer genuine, user-generated content (UGC) over sponsored social posts, demonstrating a growing weariness toward the paid influencer culture, particularly from the younger generations. Indeed, this is actually a positive thing for brands faced with budget constraints. Not only has UGC proven to be a low-cost complement to branded content, but it has also shown marketers what branded content can look like if created through the lens of a customer. 

There is a lot marketers can learn from what UGC offers—namely originality, relevance, and authenticity. These factors resonate with consumers of all ages when looking into an over-saturated sea of messaging. But what has always been the most effective method of instigating virality, developing loyalty, and introducing people to new and interesting products or solutions is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. UGC, and as an extension, UGC-informed branded content can act as modern-day word-of-mouth. These are the components that forge a strong foundation of trust, one that can bridge the gap between generational divides.

What is the starting point or catalyst for encouraging brands to develop and utilize content that captures the attention of all age groups? 

The ability to develop content that is both relevant and authentic requires a strong foundational brand image and a highly engaged customer base, allowing marketers to learn from them while establishing brand trust. This isn’t an easy feat by any means, and it takes time. If the tried and true methods of engaging with an audience are not producing that active base, then it might be time to look deeper. 

It ends up being a virtuous—or vicious—cycle. Customers interact with authentic brands. In turn, this engaged base allows brands to produce relevant content that further strengthens their relationship. Alternatively, customers feel alienated from brands that do not feel original and authentic, leaving those brands with little understanding of the customer. Essentially, it all starts with honing that level of genuine authenticity. 

You said authenticity is one of the most important components of fostering customer connections and brand relationships, which helps forge a strong foundation for trust. What are other important approaches to building brand trust? 

The shift away from paid influencer culture and unrelatable, aspirational content is a similar trend to what we’ve seen in the search landscape. Earlier this year, results from a survey conducted by Botify showed that 51 percent of U.S. and UK respondents place higher trust in brands that rank high in organic search results, as opposed to sponsored or paid advertisements that enable automatic placement at the top. 

Consumer spending has been all over the place but appears to be picking up in certain sectors, like retail. This means that as consumers begin their purchase journey, brands must stay relevant during the early search and discovery stage and take into consideration the vital role a brand’s website plays in building trust. When looking at a brand’s website, the top factor for fostering trust was the accuracy and relevance of content (33 percent).  

Regardless of age, any customer is an important one, and as you know, marketers need to understand them in order to connect with them, particularly as marketers are anticipating the decline of third-party cookies. Any final takeaways before we wrap up? 

I spoke earlier on the importance of organic search in developing brand trust but I want to emphasize that it’s not only about paid or organic. It’s about both—not or but AND. More and more consumers, especially the younger generations, are only interested in authentic and non-sponsored content. One way that marketers have traditionally targeted consumers is through their data tracked via cookies, which is soon to be something of the past.  

As marketers gear up for the demise of cookies and all manner of changes, looking internally at owned data will help build a more accurate understanding of consumer behavior. Customers are and have been willing to give up their data in exchange for personalized content and experiences; thus, it’s time for marketers to tap into that while knowing where and how customers are open to being targeted.

We know there is a decline in trust in sponsored content, which is where organic search can step in and allow brands to focus on building up better brand authority and trust with consumers. While paid certainly plays a role, it’s more about the scale and reach of content. This is what justifies the importance of initiatives that incorporate SEO and UGC-informed brand content.

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