It is simple. Marketing is a form of communicating with people to sell them a product or service. However, it’s often a complicated dance of finding new and exciting ways to persuade them. The top marketing initiatives will add to this discussion.
In this social-media-dominated world, the conversation is increasingly detail-oriented and high-tech. It’s for this very reason that the most powerful messages remain human-centric.
Think about this: Innovation in Marketing … the Birchbox Subscription Model
Technology will help marketers engage consumers more directly by circumventing distractions and increasing their marketing reach. These tactics appeal to fundamental aspects of human nature. As such, they can help marketers create carefully coordinated campaigns and conversations. Brands and consumers seek to coalesce into a shared experience, don’t they?
Here are 19 primary marketing initiatives that deserve your time and attention. If you capture their essence, they will help you address the challenges, opportunities, and complexities you’ll undoubtedly face as you move forward.
There’s content you can read, and then there’s content with which you can interact. The second variety is certainly increasing in popularity.
For example, BuzzFeed’s “Which City Should You Live In?” quiz has been one of their home-run pieces. Think of ways to get readers to actively participate instead of passively consume.
Interactive content can include assessments (such as the classic Cosmo Quiz setup), polls, surveys, infographics, brackets, and contests.
Have you studied your Facebook feed recently? The chances are that 95% of it is video. And here’s a fun stat: mobile video views grew six times faster than desktop views in 2015. In fact, in Q4 of 2015, mobile video views exceeded desktop views for the first time. We now live in an age of mobile video, and it’s time we embraced it.
Influence marketing isn’t new, but it is certainly maturing. Warren Whitlock, a noted influence marketing pro, says, “Everyone has influence. Influence marketing is the practice of finding the people who are already influencing your market. They will welcome your help to serve their audience better and reward you with reputation and trusted leads.”
What’s more effective than an ad in selling your product? A lovable social media personality is speaking highly about your product to his or her fans and followers. Influencer marketing is on the rise because people tend to trust recommendations from people they see as thought leaders.
The right influencers establish credibility through each social media post or advertisement. When they work with brands, it’s because they genuinely believe in them, and that trust is passed on to consumers.
Virtual and augmented reality
One of the recent biggest highlights was watching a screen-afflicted population carry their mobile devices out into the world to catch, yes, Pokemon.
The biggest takeaway from this phenomenon was augmented reality’s ability to drive real business results. This has become a very viable option for marketers looking to bring the online into the real world.
A huge understatement is that the future is mobile. Internet traffic is now coming more from mobile devices more than desktops. If you’re not catering your content, ads and online experience to a mobile user, then you are missing a massive opportunity.
And remember: It’s not just about “optimizing” for mobile; it’s also about making sure that piece of content gets integrated with a user’s lifestyle on the go.
Back in mid-2014, we reached the official tipping point when mobile devices officially overtook desktops as the preferred method of viewing and downloading content on the web. By the 4th quarter of 2016, 50% of all B2B companies had implemented a responsive design for their websites, according to Gorilla Group. (Responsive design allows a website to be more easily viewed on smartphones, tablets, and notebooks.)
That was almost double the percentage of sites with responsive design in 2015 (26%). That trend will undoubtedly continue in 2017, as more and more B2B marketers realize the necessity of deploying mobile-friendly sites.
Mobile was in the top 3 three years ago, but as more companies have adopted mobile responsive web design and email templates they have seen less need to focus on it, or at least there are fewer opportunities for growth.
However, research shows that retail conversion rates are significantly lower on a smartphone, so there is work to be done for many businesses to optimize conversion on mobile, although they will likely always stay lower than desktop.
Do you think of chatbots as an annoying popup on a website that looks like it was built in the mid-’90s? Not me. I believe chatbot technology has become much more sophisticated.
A great example is the behemoth Facebook, which invests a significant amount of resources into bot programs that provide users with news updates, personalized responses and more. Are you talking to a human or a bot? If you can’t tell, then the bot is working as intended.
Viewers, followers, and consumers are getting wise to the tricks of advertisers, and it’s becoming harder and harder to earn and maintain their trust. Native advertising means integrating your advertising efforts into content that already provides value to readers and viewers.
For this reason, it tends to be more effective. Look for ways to weave your products and offerings into a larger narrative, instead of just blasting with ads.
It’s much less intrusive, can provide educational benefits for the reader, is more likely to be shared, and can be very cost effective for the advertiser.
This type of content usually is useful, interesting and targeted to a specific audience — all of which makes it one of the best platforms to launch any marketing campaign.
There are two types of marketers: those who want to use what’s popular and those who use what works, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. Data tells you what’s moving the needle, and the truth is that every marketer needs to be conscious of it.
Data-driven marketing applications include market and customer insight and predictive analytics.
Social media “buy” buttons
We are moving into an age where purchasing doesn’t need to happen on a third-party site. Users are on a social platform, so why should they have to leave to buy something? “Buy” buttons are quickly turning social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest into social shopping experiences.
Internet of things (IoT)
IoT is one of the most important marketing technology applications of the last 2-3 years, but it is of most relevance to devices makers and retailers. This makes it relatively high-up in this ranking of priorities.
There are expected to be 75 billion connected devices by 2020, meaning there will be ten times as many devices able to talk to one another as there will be people on the planet! The implications are huge and far ranging. All this sharing of data will transform the way we live our lives.
Personalization means segmenting your content to reach different types of audience members based on their preferences, habits, etc. The most common form of this strategy is through lists, where certain content gets sent to certain types of users based on which lists they’ve opted into. In a world of too much content and not enough time, personalization is a huge win for brands looking to earn the attention of their consumers.
But daily information overload has made people more resistant to advertising. Today’s consumers can spot obvious sales pitches or marketing come-ons, and they’ll be turned off by it. Targeting consumers on a personal level allow marketers to cut through the torrent of stimuli.
To capture a overwhelmed customer’s attention, marketers must reach him or her with personalized, relevant content. It’s all about creating marketing tactics that home in on exactly what consumers are looking for or thinking about.
Tracking consumers’ habits, interests and browsing histories is essential to creating strategies that get them to execute a purchase.
Above and beyond viewability
Currently, most companies use viewability to measure to their success. Instead of solely focusing on views or clicks, companies should measure their ROI on things such as sign-ups, downloads, and purchases. This requires going beyond CPMs and looking at the performance-based metrics instead.
Customer experience balance
Probably the most impactful marketing trend will be a tighter focus on improving the customer experience. Strive to use a balanced approach to building customer loyalty. Instead of focusing solely on “customer-centric” methods based on your customers’ lifetime value, offset it with “customer-focused” techniques that enable you to provide relevant experiences across all touch points. Concentrate on what your customers value most.
Artificial intelligence/machine learning
The integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning into marketing techniques will continue to increase. Recently, Forrester Research predicted that “AI will provide business users with access to powerful insights before they are available to them.”
Through the use of cognitive interfaces in complex systems, advanced analytics, and machine learning technology. Many vendors are already embedding components of cognitive computing capabilities into their solutions.
Visual content marketing
According to HubSpot, marketers still place increasing emphasis on the importance of visual content in their marketing portfolios. The primary driver is the desire to make content more engaging, compelling, and shareable than just the written word. The most common forms of visual content that is being used is video (including 360-degree video), infographics, and images in blogs and social media posts.
Lots to learn: What Marketers Need to Know about Personalization Strategies
Top marketing initiatives … experiential marketing
Instead of just sending a marketing message to a prospect, experiential marketing creates an opportunity for your customers and prospects to truly experience your brand, whether in a virtual setting or in person.
Spend some time educating yourself about the latest experiential marketing strategies and techniques, and give some thought as to how you could integrate them into the interactions with your customers and prospects.
You might also want to consider how experiential marketing could be used within your organization for engaging, educating, and energizing your employees.
In 2016, 39% of marketers reported significant ROI generated from social media marketing, contrasted with only 9% in 2015. While this data implies that challenges still exist, year-over-year increases show that marketers are becoming more successful at converting social media activities into sales leads, and ultimately, revenue.
Some studies conducted by Aberdeen Group, Ovum, Marketing Sherpa, and others have revealed that the adoption of marketing automation technologies continues to be one of the fastest growing marketing trends today. The next generation of marketing automation tools is now being used by all sizes and types of organizations to accomplish a variety of objectives. These objective include driving e-commerce revenue, generating and nurturing leads, accumulating customer intelligence, managing cross-channel campaigns, among many others.
According to Forrester Research, 58% of the top-performing companies where marketing contributes more than half of the sales pipeline have adopted marketing automation.
Marketing automation is growing at an impressive rate, with 71 percent of companies currently using this tech. Marketing automation does exactly what the name suggests, using software platforms designed to put repetitive tasks on autopilot.
Although the need seems obvious, most B2B organizations still aren’t willing—or don’t know how—to align their marketing and sales efforts. You can argue that customer experience should be added to the equation as well so that all three functions are marching to the same drummer. That approach will help tear down the inherent silos that exist in most organizations and will encourage everyone to turn their focus to the customer.
Also, experiment with incorporating shared goals in your compensation programs for your marketing, sales, and customer service teams. It’s amazing what financial incentives can do to change behavior when it comes to alignment and collaboration.
Content marketing sometimes is confused with native marketing. Though the two often go hand in hand, content marketing is its beast.
Native marketing is simply another way for marketers to distribute content. Content marketing is a strategic marketing technique to create and distribute relevant information to attract a target audience. It’s not a paid-and-done transaction, like placing a native ad. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that’s best integrated into an overall marketing strategy.
It can serve as the cornerstone to nearly any marketing plan and works for all types of brands because everyone uses it differently. The key is to be consistent, staying in character for your brand. If that brand voice is clever, interesting or funny, your target audience can’t help but be engaged.
Need some help in capturing more customers from your marketing strategies? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential customers?
Call today for a FREE consultation or a FREE quote. Learn about some options to scope your job.
Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new ideas.
When things are not what you want them to be, what’s most important is your next step. Call today.
Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy improving your marketing, branding, and advertising?
Do you have a lesson about making your marketing strategy better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
More reading on marketing strategy from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library: