The digital marketing industry shows few signs of slowing down as brands continue to adjust to the pace of change in data, technology and measurement. As marketing shifts away from the classic model of mindless spending, there are new opportunities and emerging technologies that can better trace the correlation between spending and engagement with prospective customers.
From fake news to Facebook algorithms to Google and other tech giants changing the game, the industry landscape continues to force brands to adapt to new consumer behaviours and innovate to get the win. Based on my experience as the CEO of a digital marketing agency, here are four realities that I see shifting the world of marketing this year.
Every aspect of marketing is in the midst of an automation transformation.
Technology has introduced new kinds of marketing tools that take the guesswork out of advertising. For some firms, this has been a game changer, and for others, it has been a death sentence. Driven by emerging technologies, analytics and better data, marketing plans are shifting every day to match media consumption changes and platform updates. Yet, one of the biggest opportunities out of the digital transformation in marketing is reimagining the strategy in itself.
Brands need to evolve their thinking to a process that observes the behaviour of consumers through unique customer journeys and optimize efforts accordingly. Gone are the days when marketers can look at the last click in the funnel and make campaign-based decisions.
Digital transformation is not as straightforward as a one-touch fix. To deliver consumers a personalized marketing experience, brands need better control over their channels and performance. The rise of machine learning and automation has given way to incredible platforms for attribution modelling and optimization. By using these technologies, marketers can now track and measure their interaction with customers across all mediums to see where their ad spend is most effective and how customers are receiving and interacting with their marketing message.
Marketers must mine the endless mounds of data.
Across the board, companies increasingly understand that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing can’t win anymore. Brands will be connecting with consumers in a more innovative, data-driven environment — especially in retail — by tapping into marketing technology platforms for better insights into consumer buying habits. Those brands with campaigns that are data-driven with location intelligence and analytics are more apt for stronger data and greater personalization. In this strategically intricate dance, consumers will be continuously touched by brand messaging, experiences and influencers that, when optimally layered together, drive better results.
Besides easing operational processes and increasing efficiency, marketers must leverage the potential of artificial intelligence-driven tools to power through data and effectively engage with their customers — and with better success after every instance. AI can also help identify the best engagement points in the buying journey. Innovations in AI like chatbots and augmented/virtual reality are changing the way brands plan campaigns, envision touchpoints and enhance customer experiences, all while generating actionable data insights throughout the process.
The power of search has a voice.
Last year marked a huge shift in the power of voice in search marketing. If consumer brands haven’t gotten on board with SEO strategies catered to voice search, they need to get in the game before it’s too late. Google insights reveal that, on a daily basis, more than half of American teenagers and 41% of adults are talking to their phones via voice search. Amazon is said to have sold more than 20 million Echo units to date, with Google Home gaining ground and taking up to 24% of market share since it entered the game in 2015.
By 2020, ComScore predicts voice search could account for up to half of all queries. This trend has been happening in the SEO world for some time, and with the growing appetite for search bots (i.e., Alexa, Cortana), the transition to a voice-search world is progressing every day.
SEO marketers should make note of this, given that optimizing for voice search requires different tactics compared to the traditional method and having insight into this new normal could help brands provide better customer experience. Optimizing for voice search technology allows for marketers to create more conversational campaigns and provides a natural way for people to interact with brands.
Voice search will continue to explode as more predictive machine learning technologies advance this particular AI evolution. Looking forward, the voice search market is wide open and it’s possible that the strongest user group hasn’t even been born.
The content transformation will be king.
By 2021, an eMarketer report (registration required) predicts there will be more than 2.7 billion people around the world using mobile phones, with more than 87% of those using smartphones for internet access. The report also described the dominance of tech titans Google and Facebook in the U.S. digital ad market and digital ad revenue worldwide.
In this attention-driven duopoly, with ever-changing algorithms and updates, businesses are competing against friends and family for attention. The demand for mobile-ready, shareable content has never been more relentless. Every aspect of content marketing will become more user-centric and personalized, and brands must be willing to adapt.
In order to scale authenticity in this crowded environment, some brands are heavily investing in video to connect with customers to help share ideas, products, purpose and personality. Likewise, influencers will continue to play a role in content but with a new requirement of stronger return on investment. No matter the industry, your brand must steer away from vague, overly expensive programs and partnerships and opt for relevant, data-driven influencer strategies.
The challenge in digital content for today’s marketer is to remain authentic while achieving campaign goals. Brands that create experiences that inspire, educate or entertain through content and messaging efforts will continue to win in 2018.