Species that adapt survive, according to Charles Darwin — and not even necessarily those that rely on strength. Strategies and platforms are evolving in the digital age, and consumers are engaging brands on channels that didn’t exist a few years ago.
The modern marketer must be extremely agile. But while change spawns creativity, the goals of marketing remain constant. An employer hires a marketer to communicate the right message at various stages of the funnel, raise brand awareness and loyalty, drive traffic and customer engagement, and implement methods that lead to conversions and sales.
Here are key trends in marketing to prepare for in the coming year:
The Talent Gap
The talent gap in digital marketing is the root cause of unsuccessful campaigns. It results in inappropriate budgets, misinterpretation of data and ad spending on techniques that no longer work. Classically-trained marketers can help their brands rise above the noise by acquiring new digital skills. And younger, less-experienced practitioners can improve their contributions by learning the basics of marketing so they can apply core principles in creative ways.
Expect more companies to find the right balance between employing generalists and specialists — and more importantly, expect companies to increase training in digital marketing for both. To maximize the impact of budgets, practitioners can hone their skills in growing areas such as content marketing, analytics, mobile, social marketing, programmatic, SEO, in-store marketing, location targeting, personalization/customization and omnichannel integration.
There are online providers that offer authoritative certifications in digital marketing. To attract and retain talent, HR managers may have to customize compensation for personnel who consistently deliver high ROI in a digital world.
Social marketing is typically considered a low cost, high ROI approach. One emerging tactic is to promote stories on Facebook’s News Feed as a way to gain favorable coverage. This approach often involves circumventing publishers and going directly to social sites to gain exposure.
Another method is to give social users offers (such as discounts and/or cash) to promote the brand’s products and services. For example, a restaurant could give a 10% discount if customers share photos of their dining experience on social media. The key is to find new mediums that deliver more awareness and traffic, and not to rely on conventional outlets such as news sites.
In 2014, a YouTube vlogger installed a Go-Pro camera on his dog’s back to better understand how his pet behaves when the owner leaves the house. Audiences, too, got extremely curious and the video went viral. Pet food companies should consider that it’s not necessarily big budgets that win the day, but rather great ideas that can require low production costs. Think again of Charles Darwin: Survival goes to those who adapt, not necessarily to those who rely on strength.
Expect more businesses to hire marketers who can leverage social networks in savvy ways — people who understand the psychology behind what motivates audiences to watch video content on their devices. Brands would be prudent to close the talent gap in this key area. According to OMI, skills are most often missing in social media (27%), analytics (37%), mobile (29%) and content marketing (27%).
It takes a talented staff to pull off an effective in-store marketing campaign because it requires combined skills in brick-and-mortar promotions, analytics, mobile, location technology and classic marketing.
Here’s an example. You walk through the aisle of a retail store and you receive notifications on your smartphone regarding what items are on sale. You also receive digital coupons, airline miles or other offers to entice more purchases. Mobile in-store updates are intended to increase a shopper’s awareness of current promotions as well as increase the amount of time a shopper spends inside the store. These notifications also suggest products based on your purchase history.
Nearly three-fourths of millennials say they’re willing to receive location-based mobile alerts, according to Digital Marketing Institute, and according to ANA, shopper marketing is expected to increase to $18.6 billion by 2020.
The age-old practice of marketing requires people who know what they’re doing. The modern marketer must be willing to experiment, change gears and if needed, defy convention. While today’s digital ecosystem features new tech and innovation, top talent remains key to getting ROI. Programmatic requires manual intervention in order to find the right parameters, analytics need sound interpretation, location-based promotions need the right offers at the right time, video marketing needs a solid understanding of the audience — and so on.
Social and video marketing, analytics, native ads, programmatic, in-store mobile offers, content marketing and other digital techniques are all changing the profession, but the basis for long-term success is unchanged: Human marketers must be determined to adapt.