Digital marketing is changing nonstop and we're finishing out another year of incredible advancements in technology and new strategic thinking. What's coming in 2016?
1. Digital marketing is data driven.
Digital marketing is both an art and a science. Successful marketing comes from collecting, analyzing and using data about when and where customers spend their time. In short, data is behavior. Learning from this behavior drives creative messaging and strategic campaigns. Tracking behavior and tapping into the emotional connection through messaging, ads, social, and design makes all the difference in the digital space.
2. Scratch the funnel; it's a marketing ecosystem.
No two customers are alike and they won't take the same journey to conversion. There are so many ways for a consumer to engage with the brand, research the product, and make a decision; there is no way they are all taking the same steps towards your site or your services. They move back and forth, skip steps or break away completely before venturing back towards the company.
The traditional funnel has several problems. There are often too many steps, and thus opportunities to lose people. There's little opportunity to share the research and buying experience which is crucial for interacting with fans and getting more people into your funnel, or ecosystem. It's puts too much work on consumers and consumers hate doing too much work.
"We've moved past the traditional funnel. With today's complex and evolving consumer journey, it's now essential to have a single view of a consumer across most, if not all, online and offline interactions," said Brandon Hartness, Marketing Cloud Evangelist at Adobe. "This gives brands the customer intelligence they need to create effective and impactful cross-channel campaigns, while also allowing them to optimize engagement across all touch points. This is the level of sophistication consumers demand today--a holistic approach is critical to driving a consistent and continuous experience, both improving consumer interactions and overall conversions."
3. Testing is focused on variables.
The days of A/B testing entire campaigns as we know it are ending. Now, advertising technology can narrow in on specific variables that make the difference between no traffic and heavy traffic to your site. Targeting is a crucial aspect of any marketing strategy and by marketing directly to your ideal audience, you're effectively and efficiently spending only what's needed.
"In order to truly be optimal, brands need to find the individual creative elements within their ads that perform best for each online 'purchasing scenario'. Individualized testing and optimization for each demographic, interest, product-type or keyword is now possible, and is imperative to staying successful as a digital marketer," said Jason Puckett, Founder and CEO at AdBasis.
Social sites like Facebook have some of the most specific variables for advertising. Narrow down to age, interests, location, behaviors, political leanings, and more. Test search, display and mobile ads along with your email and social campaigns. Find what really works for your customers and work more efficiently.
4. Social engagement is key.
There's a lot to be learned from your audience online. You'll get honest feedback on campaigns and messaging, for one. Incorporating your fans' interpretation and opinion of your brand can get you both fresh content and loyal fans. Create incentive for fans to write, tweet, take photos, share videos, etc. Reward them for their participation and loyalty by giving them the spotlight in your campaign.
Think holistic strategy, rather than specific tactics. Each social channel, blog post, email, weblink must have a purpose and drive towards something. Never post simply to post. Without engagement or traffic, those posts are a waste of time and money. Get an understanding of your target market and their previous journeys. If they simply aren't on Twitter or don't interact on Facebook, cut it from your strategy. Focus your efforts without diluting resources; only do what is working and do it with all you've got.
As a brand, join in on the engagement. It's not enough to listen to your audience; respond and interact. Market specifically to individuals who are reaching out and talking about you. Give your audience something to love and share. Have fun with your marketing and open yourself up to build loyalty and connection.
5. It's a team sport.
Single marketing voices only reach the people already in their networks. To break through, companies and causes will increasingly need to partner with suppliers, brand ambassadors and others to reach more people, more often.
"Since we connect experts to target audiences, we count on the marketing networks of our experts to help spread the word. We tell our people, they tell their people. Everybody benefits. The marketing universe is already too complex and too crowded to keep trying to do it alone. It's true in sports and marketing - a team approach easier and more powerful because we can amplify and multiply one another's efforts," said Wade Floyd, founder of accelerator-backed CoachTube.