- Digital marketing is evolving at a rapid pace that’s driven by consumer behaviour and technologies.
- Businesses need a tailored and flexible digital marketing strategy for all content, search engine marketing and social media.
- Your marketing funnel must be highly adaptable, putting personalisation as a top priority, with the help of AI and better tools and apps.
It’s no secret that the evolution of digital marketing is an agile and technological driven world where algorithm and platform updates can require a strategy update – often within the same day. Restructuring traditional cookie-cutter marketing funnels into highly adaptable funnels with digital components, where online marketing plans can shift strategies as quickly as the sun goes down can be somewhat of a journey. With all that said, how do you build a funnel that is easily adaptable to the ever-changing market?
When it comes to the traditional marketing funnel, a lot has changed. How consumers are finding you is driven by online tactics, with traditional print and media becoming somewhat non-exclusive. Many marketers would almost not consider traditional methods in their current strategies, incorporating online - web, mobile, social - for every stage of the funnel from sharing to consideration and purchasing.
Consumers are researching pain points online and they want solutions here and now. If you can’t give them that, they most certainly will choose other options - which will be your biggest competitors.
1. Consumer trend evolution
It is essential that you are constantly researching and refining which channels work best for your brand. Long gone are the days where it will take you 6 months to plan, develop and print a brochure that will do the rounds for 6-12 months. Online marketing is agile and adjustable at the click of a button, and the consumers want the brands to understand them, not the other way around - with personalisation being at the forefront. If you execute this, then your consumers will spread the word that your brand is genuine and worth the investment. This is exactly why the traditional style of the marketing funnel is changing.
2. Social media marketing evolution
This is a phenomenal platform for brands but knowing how to use it effectively will be your biggest challenge. Knowing your target audience is one thing but understanding how they interact with the platform is another. Not everyone uses social media in the same way. For example, although Facebook was originally designed for college students, it now has one of the highest number of users over the age of 65 - which have vastly different purchasing behaviours to those in their early 20’s. Other mediums such as podcasts and videos have seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last 5 years with consumers now turning to these platforms to learn more about a product or service with the ultimate intention to buy.
3. Search marketing evolution
As Google is clearly the dominant search engine, the obvious changes have seen AdWords renamed to Ads, and the implementation of more tightly integrated tools like Data Studio and Google Analytics. For 2019, we have already seen Google’s site speed update which penalized slower sites on the initial rollout, and like anything released by Google, this will change, and we will potentially see the algorithm affecting sites that don't improve this over time.
4. Content marketing evolution
Just like consumers purchasing intent and journey is changing, so is the evolution of content, gone are the days of billboards being displayed with single-shot images on a 6-month campaign cycle. Everything is dynamic, tested, changed at the drop of a hat.
Both the brand and the consumers are in a more dynamic relationship where content is at the forefront - working seamlessly that you wouldn't even know it’s happening. While content marketing works with all the other online marketing channels, it exists entirely on its own.
The evolution of content marketing has seen the transition to the need for an entirely separate strategy, focusing on an integrated marketing team developing multi-format content managing the production of all things content related. Videos, infographics, SEO-heavy blog content, landing pages, social ads and website content all require a comprehensive strategy-related structure to understand the importance of reporting on campaign performance and the impact it has on marketing-attributed revenue.
5. Influencer marketing evolution
This is the digital equivalent of the traditional word-of-mouth marketing, by using those with a strong following to ‘promote’ a product or service through their online follower channels. They can be celebrities, Insta-famous or YouTube-famous everyday people with a huge following - often in the millions. This style of modern-day marketing can have a huge impact on brands popularity and success in the market with statistics showing that over 90% of consumers trust other consumers recommendations over advertising.
With a recent shift in Instagram removing likes, this opens the opportunity for fair play for business spending more money on advertising without the worry of social proof (likes). At this stage, the testing period has only seen a roll out in Canada and Australia, but if it is successful enough, the potential to roll this strategy out to the rest of the digital world will see a big win for small business.
Getting them to advertise on the platform against some of their biggest competitors without social proof will be much easier - clicking on an ad without social proof will become the norm – and it’s a win-win for Instagram. In an overarching goal of increasing revenue, Instagram has reached out to those who really matter to the platform - businesses that are paying to advertise - not influencers who are being paid to promote non-Instagram branded products.
6. The evolution of digital for the future
Digital marketing will continue to evolve and although already integrated, will take the holistic approach towards a more ‘omnichannel’ approach. The need for a full streamlined approach to target audiences is viewing the full experience through the eyes of the customer across all the channels - allowing streamlined integration and consistency throughout.
Omnichannel understands that not all consumers will start at the top of a funnel and follow directly through to the bottom in a traditional streamlined manner - customers may start in the bottom and move their way up - we need to consider these things as we move forward with our strategies.
Although we have understood for a while about mobile responsiveness and the dominant use of mobile over desktop experiences, if you haven't adapted to this yet - it certainly is well overdue. We now see conversational user interfaces and personalization based on insights provided by AI, progressive web apps and accelerated mobile pages.
Integrating these forward-thinking technologies into your marketing plan will ultimately see an improvement in click-through rate, increase in conversion rate and a higher rate of traffic and enquiries. Emphasis on the ongoing importance of improving your digital strategy regularly is proven by a US fashion retailer Stitch Fix, who since 2017 has seen a dramatic increase in client accounts to 30% year on year.
CEO Katrina Lake states;
“The engines we’re focused on are improving and innovating on the client experience: how to be deeply personalized, how to use data science to get clients more of what they want. The second engine is new launches; we launched plus sizes, men’s and premium, and we’re excited to see those grow.”
So, what's next for digital?
Remaining flexible with your strategies are going to be more important than ever. The need to be thinking, learning, testing and growing will never stop and may be assisted by forms of innovative technology including machine learning and artificial intelligence. Keeping your eye out for new and better tools and apps will further help with streamlining and integration.
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