Marketers: You’re Not Making This Assumption, Are You?

By Rebecca Otis


Digital marketers are running a mile a minute to gain a competitive edge, stay ahead of the curve, and take advantage of the newest, latest, greatest technology to help us manage and measure campaigns. In the process, we might forget this tidbit and make a detrimental assumption: Our customers know about, and how to use, the latest features of the marketing channels we’re using to reach them.

The Divide Between User Education and Marketer Education

While we may assume Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Gmail, or Instagram users know how to maximize the benefit of these channels, the only way they find out about the latest developments may be major news media, simple app push messaging when new features or updates are rolled out, repeated use of the tools, and word of mouth. I’ll even admit to skimming over mobile app update overviews when I install new versions on my smartphone. It seems user education tends to be light when it comes to social media tools and marketing channels. In contrast, marketers are notoriously vocal communicators, so we may be more well-versed in digital and social marketing channel functionality than the users we’re trying to reach.

For example, Gmail’s Primary, Social, and Promotions tabs are intended to help its users organize their emails more effectively. However, some marketers’ emails are subject to less visibility and engagement if they aren’t categorized as Primary. While this causes frustration and can impact reports and revenue, is it the fault of the feature, or is it that users aren’t making the most of this feature to categorize emails appropriately? This begs the question:

Do our customers, or our clients’ customers, know how to use the latest features of the marketing channels we’re using to reach them? If not, what are we doing to help them out?

Let’s explore several ways we can educate our audiences in a non-invasive, helpful way while we’re executing marketing campaigns.

How to Bundle Channel Feature Education with Marketing Campaigns

  1. Email: Provide guidance in your email campaigns such as in the Super Subject Line, the small text that appears after the subject line and above the main body of the email. Notice how Neiman Marcus adds a tip in the header of their email, which could help their subscribers make the most of their messages and reach their audience more effectively.
Neiman Marcus helps their subscribers by including Gmail feature information in their email header.

2. Mobile App: Spotify shares new feature announcements through email with a brief description, simple instructions on how to use it, and a clear call-to-action (CTA) to get started.

Spotify launches new mobile app feature through email and helps their users understand how it works in a simple way.

3. Instagram: Marketers and brands can notify their Instagram followers of features like Instagram Alerts that enable users to subscribe to push notifications when your favorite followers or accounts post a new photo to drive engagement. Check out this great example — a demo video from Social Media Week on how to set up alerts, or better yet, share them with your community!

For features that drive engagement such as Instagram alerts, brands could share educational information with your Instagram communities in your profile description or image caption, or in an email to your Instagram followers.

4. LinkedIn: If your company uses LinkedIn to recruit employees, consider emailing your subscribers and providing a demo or instructions that showcase how to set up LinkedIn job email alerts for your recent listings.

In the words of Jerry Maguire, “Help me help you.” Let’s adopt this mentality and help our customers, followers, and subscribers learn about the best ways to use the marketing channels we’re using to reach them. Let’s squash the assumption that they know about the newest time-saving trick, productivity booster, or rewarding way to connect with you. In the process, we’ll have stronger ties with our communities, and boost brand engagement to remain on the leading edge.

How are you educating and marketing simultaneously? As a consumer, how are brands helping you benefit from their marketing messages in new and better ways? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Rebecca Otis is a Marketing Consultant at Salesforce, collaborating with clients to optimize their digital marketing and email marketing programs with the latest tools, technologies, and trends top of mind. She is also a blogger, writer for NBC Chicago, and speaker for groups like Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, BlogHer, Startup Institute Chicago, University of Indiana Kelley School of Business, and DePaul University. She serves on the Social Media Club Chicago Board of Directors and was named an Austin Business Journal Women of Influence Profiles in Power Rising Star Finalist in 2012 after founding her own marketing consultancy. She’s an avid Linkedin-er too. Let’s connect @RebeccaOtis.

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