Leveraging Technology in Targeted Marketing Efforts

By Keith Pellerin, VP-Product Management & Innovation, Aflac

Keith Pellerin, VP-Product Management & Innovation, Aflac

It is no exaggeration to say that nearly every business is a digital business today. Technology supports and shapes the entire customer experience. And, not only is it universal, but technology is also becoming a primary driver of marketing strategies. In fact, marketing has become so closely linked to technology that in 2012 Laura McLellan with Gartner, Inc., predicted that by 2017 CMOs are projected to spend more money on information technology and analytics than CIOs.

"Now is the time to champion technology in marketing to continue delivering creative strategies that provide meaningful messages"

Technology is opening up new avenues for marketers to go beyond traditional tactics and truly focus on providing the right message, to the right audience, at the right time. One aspect of marketing that has been impacted immensely by technology is the way in which marketers are able to target their audiences. Gone are the days of campaigns driven solely by direct mail or telemarketing. Today, consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and breaking through that constant noise is difficult. However, for those companies that are moving outside of their “corporate comfort zone” and leveraging technology to better target their message, it is paying off.

Two strategies that are currently taking hold are data-informed social marketing and creative partnerships centered on technology. Aflac recently utilized both marketing avenues when it introduced One Day Pay, a new initiative that allows the company to receive, process, approve, and disburse payment for eligible claims in just one day. By using these technology-driven marketing approaches, Aflac was able to reach its target audiences and deliver a stronger message.

Data-informed social marketing

Big data, is no longer just a hot topic in IT, now it is a vital component to almost every industry, including marketing. Given that consumers are sharing more information about themselves publicly, marketers are able to aggregate large quantities of customer data. Everything from general demographic information down to favorite movies and television shows can be collected from people’s public social media profiles. This has given marketers an unparalleled look into its customers’ daily lives, providing them with the opportunity to deliver relevant messages to targeted audience segments.

Data-informed social marketing is one way companies can take advantage of big data created by consumers’ increasingly digital lives. It helps to make a company’s social marketing as relevant as possible by utilizing data for specific advertising purposes, among other things. In a sense, data-informed social marketing leverages micro-targeted advertisements to provide hyper-localized messages.

According to the 2014 GWI Social report by Global Web Index, social media use is continuing to grow, so much that internet users spend 41 percent of their time online on social networking and micro-blogging sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This presents a big opportunity for marketers to build upon their traditional tactics through the use of data-informed social marketing.

Knowing this, Aflac created micro-targeted advertisements on Facebook to provide reminders to potential policyholders during open enrollment periods. Aflac was able to do this by using technology to pin-point people who verified on their social media pages that they work at companies that make Aflac polices available to employees. This allowed Aflac to find the exact people who have access to its products and deliver a highly-targeted, and relevant, message. This pilot program was so successful that Aflac is looking to expand its use of data-informed social marketing into its recruitment efforts.

Creative partnerships

Being able to pinpoint the platform that is most influential to a specific segment or demographic can open new doors for marketers in the way of creative partnerships.

Partnering with brands is not a new concept, but often marketers restrict themselves to partnerships that seem the most logical or fitting for their specific company. Taking a step, or two, outside the box when exploring new partnerships could prove to be just what a marketing strategy needs to succeed. Teaming up with a brand that may seem out-of-the-ordinary for a given industry can help companies gain a wider reach in their marketing efforts, and create an opportunity to deliver a more impactful message.

For the launch of One Day Pay, Aflac partnered with Pandora® to reach the millennial audience through an unexpected medium for an insurance company. Who would have thought Aflac would launch the first official GRAMMY station on Pandora® where fans could listen to GRAMMY-nominated artists and songs? But recognizing the brand’s significance with millennials, Aflac pursued this seemingly unusual partnership with great success. Aflac leveraged the station’s popularity and shared the station on Twitter in the days leading up to the 2015 GRAMMY Awards. This allowed the Aflac Duck to provide entertaining content for his Twitter followers and align himself with the GRAMMYs brand, event and online conversations leading up to the event.

Looking ahead

With new technological advances announced almost every day, and businesses constantly looking for innovative ways to stand out in a crowded space and communicate their messages, the lines between marketing and IT departments are beginning to blur. Therefore, now is the time to bring in technology in marketing to continue delivering creative strategies that provide meaningful messages.

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