As is the case every year the marketing industry is changing. But now more than ever it feels increasingly difficult to get cut through and truly engage. Channels we’ve historically relied on to boost organic reach seem to be turning against us and making it harder than ever for us to get in front of our customers and prospects.
Consumers are also becoming increasingly marketing savvy, disingenuous or offensive messages and tactics are getting called out, click-through rates of banner advertising continue to decline[i], and the likelihood of your emails ending up in the junk box increases as inboxes are inundated with marketing content. On top of this, email clients, such as Gmail, have taken steps to help block spam and marketing messages from reaching the inbox.
Looking to 2018 it will be more important than ever that your marketing content is unique, relevant and customer focused. Blast, set and forget, or one-sized-fits-all strategies will no longer cut it, and the channels we’ve relied on to help us reach customers are cracking down on the bad and the outright annoying. Case in point, earlier this year Facebook announced it will be rolling out changes to the newsfeed to show less news articles, ads, and marketing content from businesses to its users, as they’ve realised this content is turning them away from the social media giant.
So, what can you do to stay on your customer’s good side while still achieving your business and marketing objectives? Below – we delve into the five top trends we believe will set you up for marketing success in 2018.
It’s already getting difficult to get in front of our customers in an inundated market, so when we do, we need to make sure that what they get is interesting and relevant (as well as driving them to action). In 2018 we’ll truly be entering the era where demographic or location segmentation is no longer enough to provide relevant marketing content, and an individual’s actions, engagement, or preferences will now need to shape the content they receive.
We’ll need to earn their trust so that they will open our emails, click our links, engage with us, and tell their friends – which means listening to them to find out what makes them tick. As a result, our marketing tactics need to be increasingly data driven, consider the ‘customer experience’ and be driven by an understanding of what their needs or wants are ‘right now’.
Quality over quantity
There is no question that we are overwhelmed with information and marketing content. Simply upping volume in the hopes that one of your ads or emails will ‘get through’ is more likely to turn people off completely, rather than encourage them to engage. Cut through will now be achieved with the quality of what you’re putting out, rather than the quantity. The idea is to build trust, letting your customers know they can expect content that is relevant to them, and that they want to engage with. Data - and your marketing technology’s capability to use that data – is integral to this. It helps you understand your customer, the actions they have taken, and may be likely to take in the future.
Data really is set to ‘rule’ the world – and increasingly the world of marketers. Current technology is already creating unprecedented volumes of data, and increased marketing budgets are being dedicated to analytics and data driven marketing.[ii]
And that previous point of ‘quality over quantity’ definitely applies to your data sets. Data that you can’t use adds no value to you or your customers. Spend a little time looking at the data you have, how you can use it to add value – or how you can collect and curate the data to help drive marketing and business outcomes.
The connected nature of people and devices, and the continued growth of the Internet of Things, means we are inundated by floods of data about our customers. The key will be collecting it, making sense of it, and turning that data into actionable insights.
It bears repeating that email isn’t dead – and it’s not dying anytime soon. (And we’re not just saying this as an ESP). Expectations when it comes to email quality and relevance however has grown exponentially, thanks to some savvy brands who continue to push the boundaries with what’s possible with this medium.
What can you learn from them?
Mobile first email design – with over half of emails being opened on mobile this has gone from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a must.
Hyper-personalisation and relevancy of content (think product recommendations, or next best actions).
Interactivity, unique layouts, and designs which surprise and delight.
Use data to ensure content is personalised and relevant to the recipient.
Less is more – send less emails, and make the emails you do send worth it with content or offers that add value.
Get amongst technology
The marketing technology industry is booming with software and cloud-based solutions clamouring to help you with your marketing. With the continuing advancement of AI, ML, AR, VR*, Bots, self-driving cars, fridges that order your weekly groceries - the cliched ‘there’s an app for that’ is now just an expected part of life.
Understanding what new technology has become available, and how it may help marketers provide a better customer experience, is an integral part of ensuring continued success. As is reviewing your current marketing technology to ensure its providing value to you and allowing you to be an effective marketer. As an example, Facebook Messenger is increasing in popularity and effectiveness as a marketing channel, and when integrated with your marketing automation platform can become an invaluable channel to augment reach, potentially engaging with those who may not be that keen on email.
Ultimately change is inevitable. It’s how we as marketers react and embrace these changes that will determine our success for the coming years.
* (AI – Artificial intelligence, ML – Machine Learning, AR – Augmented Reality, VR – Virtual Reality, Bots - Bots)