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Marketing & advertising October 2016

The month in Marketing & Advertising: October 2016

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This month we take a look at the big stories from the crazy worlds of marketing & advertising.

Facebook Conversation Topics wants to tell you what to talk about

Ever had the feeling that you’ve run out of things to say to your friends? Well, you’re in luck, because Facebook’s Messenger app is on hand with a range of ‘conversation topics’ to keep you and your friends chatting for hours.

The concept is simple: see what your friends on Facebook have been up to and build conversations around this information. It doubles as a more succinct newsfeed too, telling you what your nearest and dearest have been up to, where they’ve been and even what music they’re listening to.

The technology comes just a month after a user identified some code hidden in the Messenger app pointing to a new feature called Rooms. Slightly less promising than Conversations, this comes across more like a throwback to the days of internet chat-rooms, where people with a shared interest in topics can chat. Thankfully, it’s likely this version would eschew the anonymisation that made real internet chatrooms such a controversial feature of the newly burgeoning ‘world wide web’.

For anyone concerned about the state of humanity when we genuinely need algorithmic prompts to start conversations, you’re not alone. On the bright side, however, you’ll never be lost for words again.

Marketing & advertising

Marketers now spend more on mobile display ad spend than PC & tablet

For anyone in doubt of the power of mobile marketing, behold! Mobile display ad spend has now officially overtaken spending on Desktop and tablet. A new study by PwC and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) this month revealed that mobile display ad spend reached £802m, £40m more than advertisers spent on PC and tablet. Digital advertising itself reached an all-time high of £4.78bn in the first half of 2016, the highest first-half growth rate in two years.

Mobile ad spend saw the biggest boost of all, however, with a 56% increase in the first half of 2016. In fact, 2016 has been a pretty good year for every area of mobile advertising. Ad spend on mobile sites grew 43% to £745m, while mobile video spend grew 129%, suggesting our mobile dependence could be turning into a full-blown addiction.

Consumer goods brands such as food, toiletries and clothing were responsible for 18.3% of the overall ad spend on mobile, with 18.3%, followed by travel & transport at 16.4% and automotive at 11.7%.

Paid search also received a boost courtesy of our mobile fixation, growing 18.1% to £2.49bn in the first six months of 2016. With recent YouGov data finding that 82% of smartphone users check their phones within an hour of waking (while 86% of 18-34s do so within half an hour), our mobile obsession doesn’t show any signs of abating soon.

Marketing & advertising

Unilever and Tesco call an end to a very public tiff

October has been a month of uncertainty for people across the UK, especially as the reality of Brexit begins to spread from political hypothesising to real-world impact. That’s right, with all the potential pitfalls and profits of Brexit, few could have anticipated it would hit the yeast-based spread market so hard.

Marmite fans throughout Britain decried the news that Unilever, in response to the falling value of the post-Brexit pound, were increasing retail prices on some of the UK’s favourite foodstuffs.

The row looked set to embroil Tesco and Unilever in a very public spat. Thankfully the companies reached an agreement within 24 hours of the announcement.

Unilever released a statement explaining “We have been working closely together to reach this resolution and ensure our much-loved brands are once again fully available. For all those that missed us, thanks for all the love.” It may seem like a trivial issue for the haters, but the announcement elicited a collective sigh of relief from Marmite-addicts everywhere, not to mention providing some free publicity for the both parties involved.

The publicity didn’t necessarily benefit both parties, however. The day following Unilever’s announcement saw Tesco shares up 4.2 percent, while Unilever shares were down 0.7 percent.

Marketing & advertising

Mcdonald’s: Ronald McDonald keeping a lower profile

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ll be aware of the clown craze sweeping the world. Theories ranging from an internet craze gotten out of hand to some extreme form of viral marketing for a re-adaptation of Stephen King’s It abounds, but there have been other, less expected responses. The ‘killer clown’ craze has also provoked a huge backlash against the entire profession of clowning, and it seems even the most well-known aren’t immune to the collective coulrophobia.

That’s right, even McDonalds’ own Ronald McDonald is laying low until the heat surrounding the killer clown craze dies down. McDonald’s said earlier this month that it is being “thoughtful in respect to Ronald McDonald’s participation in community events” as a result of the “current climate around clown sightings in communities.”

Despite ‘hoping’ to disassociate itself from the current creepy fad, a clown has been spotted lurking by a McDonald’s in the Australian town of Moe, Victoria. Several sightings of a male clown wielding an axe at cars exiting the drive-through of the fast-food restaurant earlier this month.

Whether Ronald himself was involved is doubtful, but perhaps it’s best he keeps a low profile until this craze has finally run itself into the ground.

Marketing & advertising

Google steps in the smartphone ring with Pixel

Dubbed ‘the smartphone to end all smartphones’ by one, over-excited reviewer, this month saw the release of Pixel, Google’s first ever homegrown smartphone. As the first ever 100% Google Google designed phone, there was a lot of pressure on the Pixel to excel. That it’s the first phone to boast Android 7.1 and the reworked Google Assistant is being touted as the phone’s chief selling point.

Both of the newly launched Pixel phones come with a version of the aforementioned ‘Google Assistant’, promising new features including advances in artificial intelligence to improve personalised and voice-capable searches.

The phone’s physical design, with 5-in. or 5.5-in. screens and top-spec 12MP rear camera, have gone down reasonably well, although some thought-leaders have rightfully wondered why Google made the step into producing its own hardware at all.

The smartphones were just one aspect of the company’s new hardware push, however. Also unveiled at the conference were Google Home, a device that relies on Google Assistant, and a virtual reality headset/controller called Daydream View. Whether these releases will be enough to establish Google as a leader in the mobile hardware market remains unclear. It wouldn’t be the first time Google has made it late to the party only to become an industry leader.

Marketing & advertising

Psychographics in marketing

Psychographics in marketing: How to gain valuable audience insights

Analytics, Marketing, Psychographics | No Comments

For the uninitiated, psychographics is the study of the personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles of a designated group. Commonly referred to as ‘IAO variables’ (for Interests, Activities and Opinions), they sit at the subjective end of the consumer attribute spectrum. At the objective end sits demographics. Demographics can give us important data like the age of a target group, what profession they’re in, and where they’re based. Meanwhile, psychographics in marketing make up the shades of grey between the black and white of your demographics. 

Understanding the psychographics of your target audience is vital to the marketing process, but too often these insights are undervalued or overlooked. That’s because it’s easier to see your consumer as a collection of incontrovertible stats, rather than the complicated mass of neuroses, emotional responses and contradictory belief systems we know we are. Psychographics in marketing helps you understand how to direct and shape your content. It includes how to market using custom-targeted channels, a vital aspect of the modern marketers .

So how can you discover the psychographics for your audience, and, just as importantly, how do you incorporate these into your own campaigns? So check out the top five tips on tapping into those all important personal interests, and discover how they can guide your digital strategy.

Talk to your current clients

It sounds too simple to work, but talking to your clients can give you insights unattainable through any other means. In practice, every interaction with a client should be seen as an opportunity to learn more about your audience as a whole. Make their interests your interests. Try to empathise with their approach to life as much as their approach to business.

In doing so, you can simultaneously gain audience insights while solidifying your business relationships by showing you really care about aspects outside of their professional lives. Talking to clients can lead to all kinds of revelations, not least in how you interact with them and what they (and other clients) expect from your business.

For instance, you could learn from talking to clients that they spend a significant amount of time on the road attending business meetings. This, particularly when referenced against their typical email reply hours, could tell you that ads targeted at mobile are more likely to yield a good ROI than Desktop, as well as reiterating the need for a mobile-optimised website.

Psychographics in marketing

Utilise data, both large and small

As a marketer, if you aren’t using big data to study your audience, you’re not only in the minority, you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Data is essential to gaining customer insights, but data alone can only have so much influence on how you structure your output. Look at your existing site content and previous special offers. What has moved people to click, call, or buy in the past? The data gained from studying these interactions goes a long way to telling you what your consumer has done, but psychographics reveals why they did it.

Because psychographics involves the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles, it is essential you trace the lead’s journey to your content, and how they interact with it once they arrive. By studying where else they have browsed, where and what time they accessed your content, you can begin to unravel their interests and build your digital strategy around how these interests dictate they will respond.

Likewise, small data is an invaluable tool to the marketing process, particularly in B2B scenarios. Whereas the broad-scatter metrics provided by large-scale analytics (or big data) give a comprehensive overview of how your audience interact with your content, small data focuses in on just individuals. In B2B interactions, where the decision of an individual user can affect a project, company or even an entire industry, understanding their interests gives you a significant advantage over the competition. 

Psychographics in marketing

Measure social success

Share relevant content through different channels – which channels work best, at what time and using what language? Understanding these variables can go a long way to helping you understand the people behind the accounts, and how best to engage with them. Of course, there are so many channels to now reach your audience through, gauging the best media for you will take time and patience.

Narrow your channels down using your demographics. Study the networking sites and the reasons people use them before whittling down your choices to only the relevant channels. For instance, LinkedIn generated 80.33% of B2B leads in 2014, compared to just 12.73% by Twitter and 6.73% by Facebook, making LinkedIn the obvious choice if you’re running a B2B campaign. Check engagement rates on all your posts, across your chosen channels, and audience behaviour patterns will begin to emerge which can then be integrated into campaigns.

social-media-analytics

Study audience output

Social media is particularly effective because audiences give you an insight into their personality through their own social output. Take a look at the kind of posts they Like/share/Tweet/post and create a profile map of their tastes. Include in this features like their active hours, their choice of language and their response to different images.

Your study of client output doesn’t have to be limited to their social accounts, however. If you’ve been interacting with them directly, there are a wealth of hidden inferences to help you compose a fuller picture of their interests. Study their language, when they reply, how they structure their emails and other aspects of their interactions. Studying the organic social conversations of your audience can also give you an edge on the competition, allowing you to identify emerging trends as and when they happen.

Psychographics in marketing

Don’t forget the classic data-gathering tools

With the rapid evolution of data-harvesting tools and audience profiling technology, it’s easy to forget other, more traditional means of gathering client information. For instance, customer surveys may seem like an outdated concept, but they can still add to your understanding of client behaviour.

The real challenges in conducting consumer surveys lie in deciding what questions you need to ask, and how to introduce the survey. For the latter, the point at which you introduce the survey request can have a major impact on the resulting information. The responses resulting from an on-site pop up following a purchase will vary dramatically in comparison to a survey embedded in an email. Consider carefully the means by which you reach out to your audience. The Hawthorne effect will also play a part in influencing your answers, so remember to take this into account.

For the former, it’s vital to develop criteria that help inform your future digital strategies. The difference between a personal question and a professionally relevant question may seem slight, but the gulf in the value of the results can be huge. Asking about your prospective consumer’s hobbies gives you some background to who they are but. But asking their favourite weekend activity gives you an extra level of insight that can inform an actionable strategy. Asking which social media channels your consumer uses gives you a good understanding of how they gather information. Asking them to rank their social media channels in terms of their value in gathering business opportunities, however, will result in more focused and actionable insights.

Person holding tablet browsing products online psychographics in marketing

Conclusion

Just as demographics alone won’t give you the full picture of your audience, psychographics only tells half the story. By combining the two schools of thought, you can build up a huge bank of quantified and qualified information that can be used to leverage important insights. While demographics provides objective classification, psychographics recognises the need for subjective information regarding your audience.

These seemingly innocuous elements contribute to the psychographic maps of your audience and enable you to make more informed marketing decisions, something every marketer could benefit from.

Disruption marketing

5 things your startup needs to focus on above disruption marketing

Feature, Marketing, Startup | No Comments

Of all the industries thriving under the tech revolution, marketing seems to be the most prone to embracing new buzzwords. This wouldn’t be such a problem but marketers seem predisposed to overusing and oversimplifying these words to suit their own ends. Of all the buzzwords currently floating around the martech atmosphere right now, none are as trite and tired as ‘disruption marketing’.

Although technically a business model, not a marketing approach, disruption marketing has been held up as the secret ingredient to rapid business success. Startups everywhere are proudly proclaiming themselves as the next big disruption to the status quo, despite not really understanding the criteria for something to be ‘disruptive’. In fact, any company can be disruptive. Being truly disruptive requires more than just an innovative idea. It involves applying the same fundamentals of business used by others, in a more dynamic way.

What is disruptive marketing?

In the interest of clarification, let’s lay out exactly what disruptive marketing is. The standard definition can be traced back to ‘disruptive innovation’, a term put forward by Clay Christensen, the author of ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma.’ In it, Christensen explains ‘disruptive innovation’ is the process by which large, established companies are caught out by small, agile startups.

Often these startups will be described as “operating on a different wavelength” because they have eschewed traditional working practices in favour of a more unorthodox approach. The problem today is, too many startups equate the unconventional with successful market disruption. So instead, we’ve compiled a list of five things your startup should aim to do that will, in turn, give you a disruptive edge over the competition.

Disruption marketing

Understand your customer

This sounds like an obvious requirement, and it is. Companies far and wide, however, are failing to respond to this most pressing need. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large tech startup based in Silicon Valley or a small delivery startup in Sydney, you have to have a clear image of your client and their needs. Ask yourself, what could you offer that would tempt them away from your competitors?

Communicate with your customers regularly. If you don’t maintain contact with your customer, you can’t truly understand them, making it harder to evolve your model around their needs.

Every technology is disruptive in some way, and to produce anything other than an exact replica is to disrupt in some sense. By endeavouring to understand your client-base better, you can begin to spot the pitfalls of others and act on them. Uber was based on the age-old idea that people need hired-transport, but it eschewed the unpredictability of hailing a cab, allowed drivers to use their own cars and side-stepped the decreasing relevance of physical currency. In doing so, they disrupted the market while building on the same principals of previous public transport models.

disruption marketing

Refine your process

Disruptive marketing is misleading for a number of reasons, not least because it leads CEO’s to think they have to create a new technology, model or approach from scratch. Companies like Uber and AirBnB were based on age-old concepts. The only real ‘disruptive element’ was in the way they took an established concept and simplified it. They didn’t reinvent the wheel, they refined it for a new generation.

Ensuring the UI for your software is accessible and clean will keep clients coming back for more, while a simple sign up and implementation process will streamline the sales funnel between lead and customer. No company starts out with the perfect process. Business models have to be optimised according to the consumer, the cultural environment and other, ever-changing factors.

That’s why it’s essential to keep your model fluid.  Trial different marketing approaches, technologies and channels to see which work best for your brand. Experiment with measurable goals, incorporating data-harvesting tools to gain quantifiable results – measuring success rates is always easier when you quantify them. You may never find the perfect formula, but that shouldn’t stop you from striving to improve your model.

Marketing your startup

Adapt your model

As Jill Lepore explained in an article for the New Yorker “Disruption…despite its futurism, is atavistic. It’s a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence.” Disruption is an inevitable part of business, and, on a grander scale, society, and to try to wilfully harness it is to ignore the obvious – you can’t own evolution. You can only hope to spot the surge and ride the wave.

Our mobile phones, the internet and, before that, TV and cinema, were all disrupters. They changed the way we eat, sleep, socialise and entertain ourselves, but they were the result of thousands, even millions of minds coming together to advance existing technologies.

As W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne pointed out in their 2005 book Blue Ocean Strategy, existing firms already have an advantage in disruption. Because they have already gained a foothold in the market, they are better seated to identify and exploit ‘blue oceans’ – markets new to both customers and competitors.

Reinvent your startup business model

Find your niche

What do you offer that nobody else can? Identifying your USP is the closest you’ll get to consciously developing a disruptive marketing strategy, but it’s nothing new. Every business strives to stand out and convey why it’s the optimum choice for consumers.

To really make a mark on an industry you must identify your USP and justify its presence in the market by tackling the shortcomings of your competitors. Responding to market demand and anticipating market demand are very different. If your marketing processes are largely reactionary, responding to client needs when they arise, how can you expect to get ahead of the competition?

Tools like Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner provide insights into industry hot topics, but they can also point to upcoming market trends. Track keywords that you feel are most relevant to your company and try to spot recurring themes. Keywords like ‘inbound marketing’, ‘eCommerce’ and ‘custom marketing platform’ have only recently become popular searchable terms, but they could point to the next big thing. Use these as a means of guiding where you position your startup in the market, and how you reach out to new leads.

How to disrupt innovation in business

Maintain a strong social presence

Use the right channels, make sure your content is relevant for your audience. Your social content has to give clients valuable information whilst cultivating a consistent brand message. Of course, disruptive marketing stems from the unexpected. Be willing to step outside of the boundaries and apply a unique approach, but first, you must understand the boundaries.

Draw up a profile of your customer base and build your content around what you know appeals to them. This refers not just to the subject of the content, but the language with which it’s written, the images you use and the times you choose to communicate your message. Your social presence is the first port of call for many prospective leads, so it’s vital you establish your corporate character here, and ensure it’s consistent across all channels.

Disruption marketing through social media

By all means, study the business behaviours of other startups – after all, marketing and business are ever-changing concepts that could always do with being further refined. But trying to emulate the success of other companies by replicating their process will never result in the same triumph. As Abby Ross said in a recent Forbes article, “we need to empower, not disrupt.” To be truly innovative, you must first understand the tried and tested methods of operating and improve upon them. Quirky business practices might disrupt an industry, but it takes real business acumen to change an industry forever.

Marketing & advertising

The month in Marketing & Advertising: September 2016

Advertising, Industry, Marketing, News | No Comments

Virtual reality takes on new dimension

Oh, to work in the world of virtual reality! The medium has been through a lot lately. With a lukewarm reception at the Cannes Lions and just a few promising examples of the technology’s potential, investors could be forgiven for hedging their bets. But fear not, for a recent Nielsen survey of 8,000 consumers found that consumers might actually be ready for VR. Whether the world’s of marketing & advertising are ready, is another matter entirely.

According to a report released this month by Nielsen’s Media Lab, 24 percent of respondents said they are likely to use or purchase VR in the next year. The number of people who said they didn’t plan to try it fell even further when given a rudimentary explanation of its potential applications.

There was more good news for marketers interested in VR, too. Harry Brisson, Nielsen’s director of lab research noted that those interested in VR “are ‘triple-A’ consumers: Not only are they early adopters of new products and services, but they’re advocates for the brands that they use and love.” This is great news for companies already investing in VR, but it’s important to remember, when it comes to virtual reality, nothing is quite as it seems.

Marketing & advertising

Instagram doubles advertising base in 6 months

Instagram announced this month that it has increased its advertising base to over 500,000 businesses. The social network reached half a million advertisers just a few months after hitting 500 million active users, and the mobile photo-sharing growth doesn’t show any signs of abating. Speaking at a press briefing this month, Instagram’s head of brand development for EMEA Amy Cole said the top five advertising verticals on Instagram were now consumer packaged goods, eCommerce, retail, entertainment and technology.

In a bid to encourage more brands to engage with their audience, Instagram introduced ‘Business Tools’. The service allows companies to add a contact button to their page and provides more detailed data regarding the personality traits of their followers. The service has proven a hit, with 1.5 million businesses converting to a new profile on Business Tools.

The app’s ‘Stories’ feature, although derided as a Snapchat rip-off, has proven to be a big hit for businesses too. Cole explained the impact Stories has had on marketers. “We have seen brands make use of the fact that you can message people through stories and they go straight into your direct messaging. It gives brands that extra flexibility.”

Marketing & advertising

Youtube debuts new Call to Action TrueView feature 

This month saw Google introduce a new format for YouTube TrueView video ads. TrueView for Action allows for in-video ads to be tailored to a specific action. So rather than a generic ‘Learn more’ link appearing alongside the ad, brands can now choose their own phrase. Not only does this help banners achieve greater brand relevance, it allows advertisers to develop more specific ad campaigns.

Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of ads and commerce at Google, announced the new feature at the DMEXCO digital media conference in Germany this month. Ramaswamy said TrueView action ads will be tested throughout the year. With the reporting and user experience being fine-tuned, the aim is to make the new format available globally.

Google explained the option would be particularly useful for advertisers in “high consideration” industries, like those in financial services, automotive, or travel. Google will test this format for the rest of 2016, but we could see it rolled out by as early as next year.

Marketing & advertising

Yahoo confirms massive data breach

Yahoo found itself in hot water this month after confirming a massive data breach that affects hundreds of millions of users. The hack, which Yahoo confirmed this month, saw the birthdates, usernames, passwords and email backup details of half a billion users leaked. However, the tech company was quick to calm fears of a risk to people’s personal financial accounts with an official statement:

“The ongoing investigation suggests that stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information; payment card data and bank account information are not stored in the system that the investigation has found to be affected.”

The attack was first reported back in August when a hacker, going by the name ‘Peace’ claimed to be selling the private information of over 200 million Yahoo accounts. The details were allegedly put up for sale on a hacker’s marketplace called The Real Deal. At the time, Yahoo acknowledged they were aware of the claim, but stopped short of confirming or denying its authenticity. If you’re a Yahoo user, click here to check if your account has been hacked.

Marketing & advertising

Snapchat debuts Video-Enabled Sunglasses

As far as first hardware products go, Snapchat’s Spectacles could actually be a step in the right direction. As the tech startup looks to branch out beyond the world of app technology, there was a real danger of the company forgetting what made Snapchat so much fun – short & snappy user generated content. Thankfully, if the video-recording eyewear unveiled this month is anything to go by, user-created content is still an integral part of the formula.

Snap Inc (the tech company’s new corporate name) started calling themselves a camera company a few months back, and with the release of Spectacles, Snapchat is clearly planning to go way beyond the much-loved mobile app.

The Spectacle debut this month revealed that users push a button near the hinge of the glasses to record up to 10 seconds of first-person video. Each new button-tap records another video, allowing you to create several quick, first-person clips in a row, which can then be sent via the app to followers. The prospect for what users can do with an extra hand now free probably don’t bear thinking about, but it’s certainly opened up new markets for the image messaging pioneers.

Marketing & advertising

Geo-specific marketing content

The secret to great geo-specific marketing content

Advertising, Agile marketing, Business, Marketing, Technology | No Comments

At the risk of stating the obvious, the internet, and by extension, smartphones, have redefined borders in marketing. Businesses can find work from the other side of the globe; brands can advertise in any and all countries simultaneously, and companies can now boast an employee-base with more cultural diversity than a Benetton ad.

All of this sounds like great news for marketing, but marketers are struggling to keep up with the advances in technology, as evidenced by the number of nationally-targeted generic PPC campaigns. But content that tries to please everyone rarely leaves a lasting impression on anyone. That’s why geo-specific marketing is so vital.

geo-specific marketing works on the concept that graphically diverse content, and locally-specifical targeted ads appeal to a more varied spread of consumer. For marketers, it not only enables a more efficient media spend, it can also provide a significant advantage over competitors. In fact, 60% of advertising professionals already believe geo-targeted ads deliver a stronger ROI than generic ads and 50% said they deliver a higher response rate.

So how can you begin to integrate geo-specific marketing into your own campaigns? Read on for some top tips on how to make your content both international and locally relevant.

Develop a local vernacular table

Every region, country, and even every city has its own cultural and linguistic nuances. When creating ad content, it’s vital to consider not just what you say, but how you say it. Filtering your advertising language through the vernacular of a target region can make a huge difference to your success rate. Of course, international companies should have already included translations for different countries. But even when marketing to two countries with the same national language, you should try to tailor the content to their specific dialect.

Say, for instance, you run an international digital video rental store based in the UK. In Britain, to advertise a newly returning show you would most likely refer to it as the ‘new series’. However, the US more commonly uses ‘seasons’ in reference to a string of episodes. Failing to make the distinction could see your ranking slide in America, as people searching using their own national vernacular find other, more culturally relevant entertainment offers.

vernacular

Customise the channels you use

Last year, the Local Search Association (LSA) of the US released data showing mobile devices surpassing PC use in the search for local businesses and services. While this should warrant a change in focus for companies based purely in the US, companies operating internationally should already have a clear idea of mobile consumption in other countries.

India and China both rely heavily on mobile technology, and businesses based in these countries have already tailored their content and ads accordingly. Mobile has the added advantage of pinpointing exact locations, allowing you to integrate offers into the ads providing they are in a nearby location, further increasing the relevance of your ad above competitors. With geo-specific marketing, it’s not just who you market to and with which content, but also the channels you use to reach them.

Geo-specific marketing content

Develop locations with limited uptake

By dividing regions, you gain a stronger understanding of the areas in which your content is and isn’t working. By being able to directly compare different geographic locations, you can edit your content and ads according to what works best in each selected region. Take a look at the websites and ads of local competitors and try to break down each element – the tone, language used, page layout, etc. – and experiment with each.

Alternatively, you can choose to drop under-performing regions from your campaigns entirely. Remember, one of the central strength’s to geo-targeting is that it restricts your ad-spend to ensure you only reach out to relevant visitors. This allows you to focus your budget and time, but can leave you open to losing what little influence you have in other regions.  

 

Geo-specific marketing contentPersonalise the marketing experience

Personalisation is a must in modern marketing. Companies risk alienating consumers by not tailoring their content, and this includes the geographic location. Even incorporating language with locally distinct vocabulary for different regions is a form of personalisation. In fact, studies have shown that 67 % of smartphone users want ads displayed to them customised to their city or zip code, while 61% want ads customised to their current surroundings.

By referring to the areas in which your geo-targeted ads are being shown, you can relate to your customers directly and further reduce wasted impressions. For local businesses, in particular, personalisation equals greater brand recognition and a greater ROI.

Geo-specific marketing content

Target geo-specific events

You can personalise your content even further by referring to geo-specific events. By referring to an upcoming local, regional or even national event, you can add a timely element to your content and channel the exposure into increased ROI. Of course, marketers already look to integrate anticipated events like local sporting fixtures into their marketing plans. But there are also a myriad of geographically specific events that could increase ROI but just can’t be predicted.

A sudden heat wave can be a big boost for a number of industries, including sunscreen manufacturers, soft drinks companies and outdoor clothing stores. Marketing with content that addresses both a consumer’s location and their current climate can be a major boost, but can also save companies with less relevant offers from wasting revenue. For instance, a company selling winter coats might decide to drop their ad-focus in a region currently experiencing a heatwave, preferring instead to focus their efforts on areas going through a cold spell.

Geo-specific marketing content

Use geographic reporting tools

Geographic reporting tools allow you to develop more sophisticated testing through comparing different offers or promotions in the same region. This is hugely important to informing your overall social strategy, particularly when going head-to-head with competitors for local ad-space.

Google Website Optimizer allows you to segment your traffic and define subsequent actions based on that segmentation, in part automating the process behind your geo-specific marketing. There are hundreds of resources out there to help you make the most of geo-targeting tools, but they’re not the only means of fine-tuning your geographic focus.

You can also use analytics packages to study the browsing behaviours of previous site visitors. This allows you to pinpoint consumers’ tendencies and provide relevant, location-specific content, even if they’re not currently in the area.

Geo-specific marketing content

Don’t limit yourself to ad space alone

If you have a blog, write content with a specific focus on a particular area, taking into account all the previous points, including changing vernacular, posting times and the channels you use.

The more control over your campaigns, the more you can begin to understand why people respond to content in the way they do.  

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different means of communication following the initial hook. For example, try optimising a landing page with geo-targeted content from a geo-targeted banner. Compare the results with a generic, non-geo-specific landing page and see which yields the highest conversions. From this, you can begin to develop a stronger understanding of where geo-specific content is most needed.

Geo-specific marketing content

Consider the little things

It’s not just the language and dialect of a region that you should consider. When creating content, either onsite or in your advertising, it’s important to consider the little details. Ensuring your content is in the relevant currency may seem like a no-brainer, but companies still persist in using just one. Less obvious but no less relevant are metrics like weights, volumes, distance and speed. You should always crawl your geo-specific marketing content with a fine-toothed comb to guarantee your content has the full impact. Remember, even the smallest error, when seen enough times, becomes obvious.

Visuals also play an important part in the geo-targeting process. Test different images in different geographical settings to see which types of image warrant the best response. Be sure to keep a record of these, as they could go on to influence future geo-specific marketing campaigns.

Geo-specific marketing content

Conclusion

In marketing, as in so many other industries, it really is a case of right place, right time. Geo-specific marketing gives you an extra edge over competitors, be it in the local arena or on a national or even international level. It takes time and more than a bit of patience, but those willing to put the work in can really take advantage of a new digital society.

Automation in marketing campaigns

What does automation in content marketing mean for the future of campaigns?

Automation, Content, Marketing, Technology | No Comments

Technology and automation have irrevocably changed the world of marketing. Social media, data analysis, and the internet have given marketing a new lease on life, but there’s been very little discussion about the cost of the human element in marketing. At its heart, marketing is about establishing connections between a brand and their audience. But what does our automation-addiction mean for the future of marketing, and the people who create the campaigns? We take a look at some of the areas most affected by the growth of automation, what our programmatic predilections mean for the future of marketing, and how brands can combat the perils of automation dependency.

Social media

We all know the best times to post on social media, and now marketers can pinpoint when they get the most response rate. Every company uses automation to an extent. In fact, when used intelligently, it can even enhance the audience experience.

Automation in social media has been both a blessing and a curse for brands. It’s freed marketers up to deliver content outside of working hours, which means a wider geographic audience range as content can be disseminated across different time zones. Simultaneously, it has also been interpreted by many as a green light to schedule their social media at the start of the working day and then ignore their feeds for the rest of the day. Automation might give more freedom to marketers, but it can also inhibit their willingness to pivot a strategy when new content opportunities become available. It can also lead to brands posting dubious or offensive content purely as a result of bad timing. Agile marketing still very much relies on a human element, but it needs marketers to accept that not everything in life can be automated.

Automation in marketing campaigns

Customer service

A recent Facebook study revealed that 53% of consumers are more likely to shop with a business from which they can message and get a quick response. Meanwhile, a study by Nucleus Research found that marketing automation can drive a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. While stats like this give a pretty convincing argument for businesses to explore their own options for automated replies, but it’s important to remember why customers contact companies in the first place.

No other area of marketing requires the human touch more than customer interaction. Chatbots can automate all kinds of tasks, but it would be foolish to think the entire customer service role can be delegated to AI and automation alone. Automation may have streamlined the purchase process for buyers, but as more companies adopt them for their own commercial needs, it’s important to remember that AI still relies on some level of human inputThere’s so much variation in humans, be it syntax, spelling or (if you’re relying on voice interaction) dialect. As Abinash Tripathy of Helpshift explained in a recent VentureBeat article, “Chatbots are still highly fallible, and should not be used to replace human interaction. When people want to talk to a human, they need a human.”

Automation in content marketing

Data analysis

As a relatively new concept to digital marketing, data analysis is probably the tool best suited to automation in content marketing. The process of analysing different site metrics, with its heavy quantitative focus, lends itself perfectly to automation. Numerical data on site visitors, the time spent on each page, the channels by which visitors gained site access and many more metrics can help form a picture of your site’s strengths, and most analytics packages provide automated updates as standard.

Developing actionable insights from this data, however, can be more of a challenge. It’s tempting to say that only a human could draw relevant conclusions from human behaviour, but when this behaviour is filtered through the limited actions and access points of a website, it’s not unbelievable that a well-programmed piece of AI software could replace human input. There are already several software suites on the market offering automated, AI-led solutions to your data analysis needs, although the technology is still in its early days.

So while automation and AI can take some of the monotony out of data harvesting (not to mention saving time and money), it’s still a few years off from replacing the company data analyst completely.

Automation in content marketing

Direct marketing

Perhaps one of the biggest changes in marketing prompted by the tech revolution is the speed and accuracy with which brands can now target their audience. Consumers can not only find out about the latest company offers within seconds of a new campaign going live, they can receive content customised to their specific interests. Automation has played a huge part in reaching so many in a short space of time, but it still depends on human input.

The thrill of marketing is in that elusive human connection, and part of that comes from maintaining a two-way setup in your communication channels. If you’ve automated your content to go out to every one of your followers simultaneously, the chance of you being deluged with simultaneous replies increases. Likewise, the likelihood of these replies requiring a strong understanding of the nuances in human speech (something AI still struggles with) is high.

This makes following up with a satisfactory reply in a timely manner particularly difficult, largely because good customer service depends on giving the respondent something more than a generic automated reply.

The ironically named Progressive, an auto insurance company, learned this the hard way after replying to criticism of a case involving a customer death. Instead of considering each critic’s unique comment they automated their reply and sent out identical, emotionless responses that only served to anger the public more.

Automation in content marketing

Conclusion

So automation has largely been a positive addition to the marketer’s roster, but there are still a number of pitfalls to watch out for. Marketing today isn’t about blindly embracing every new piece of technology that comes along. It’s about utilising technology while considering how it can be integrated with other methods of marketing. Consumers want to feel like their opinion matters, and this relies on real interaction. Automation has become a crutch for too many brands, seeing it as a way of simplifying their daily routine without taking into account the most integral ingredient, the human factor. By accepting that some of the most inspired marketing campaigns grow from not setting your routine in stone, you can begin to integrate technology with human discretion and see real emotional engagement.

content-marketing

How to ensure your content marketing hasn’t lost its impact

Content, Feature, Marketing | No Comments

From Benjamin Franklin’s first published annual ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack’ way back in 1732, to the first Michelin guide in 1900 to the modern day company blog, content marketing has fulfilled a pivotal role in a brand’s marketing campaigns.

The central idea of content marketing is not only to advertise to customers but to reciprocate their interest in your brand by providing information in their quest for information. Content marketing is nothing new, but since the proliferation of the internet, brands have been handed the keys to an altogether different beast. Today, around 4.6 billion pieces of content are produced every day, according to a study by LinkedIn.

Today, marketers have access to a vehicle that allows their brands to reach out to consumers around the world, and content marketing is the key to forging a reputation as a leader in their respective field.

Use the right channels, the right way

But with this newfound exposure comes a myriad of challenges. Getting your content in front of the right people today can be more demanding than creating the content, largely because almost every company now has its own content marketing team. Being noticed in the crowd requires a detailed understanding of the best channels to transmit content for your specific brand, a good grasp of the most effective times to share, and a keen eye for the best influencers to help get your message out.

With the explosion in specialist ‘content creation’ sites, being heard above the din is no easy task. That’s why you have to think carefully about every stage of the process before generating content. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. The early years of the internet resembled a digital wild west, where any content was deemed worthy of publication and the basic rules of writing were eschewed in the pursuit of clicks. Today, the clickbait industry is (unfortunately) stronger than ever, but audiences expect more from branded content.

Consistency is crucial

Consistent content requires an extensive knowledge of your own brand’s core ethos. To guarantee your audience comes back for more, refer to your core values before posting anything. This is particularly important when you’re devising your new social and outreach campaigns.

Consider what the end goal of your post is, how many new leads you hope to generate and what would make you stop and click if you were in need of the services your company offers. There are some great guides out there to developing your social campaigns while staying true to your brand message.

Alongside this, always keep your audience profile snapshot in mind when generating and disseminating content. Creating an audience snapshot is no easy feat, but it’s a fantastic resource for giving your marketing a strong focus and a genuine consistency.

It’s not just in content development that you need to maintain consistency, however. People like knowing when and where great content is going to be available, so try to find the best time to post for your audience, then stick to it! Maintaining a regular pattern of posting breeds familiarity and increases the chances of readers engaging with your brand.

Involve your audience

Content marketing has been through some dramatic changes lately, but the most significant developments have been in interactivity. Marketing is no longer a one-way channel. Today, it’s a bustling two-way street, where audience feedback can encompass anything from video testimonial to an open-forum discussion with the brand.

Social media has given a microphone to the audience, and the whole world can hear the Q&A session. This is a double-edged sword for companies. Encouraging synergy between consumer and brand can lead to a huge increase in the number of people talking about your brand, but it’s up to you to make sure it’s positive chatter.

Writing for your audience doesn’t have to be an explicit statement of what your company does. Creating compelling content on a subject related to your company, known as brand adjacency, can be a great way to generate buzz. If the content is of enough interest, your audience will debate, discuss and share it with like-minded individuals you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach. Not only does this give extra legs to your content, it establishes your brand as a thought leader in the field.

Tailor content to your audience’s needs

This means considering everything about your consumer’s browsing habits. What are the key issues in the industry today? Which social media channels does your audience use most? What vernacular do they use when searching? All of these considerations should play an integral role in deciding the kind of content you create, and when you make it available.

Great content should entice your audience not just to read on, but to read more about your company. Creating content that you know will fulfil a specific need for your industry massively increases the odds of it being shared between other thought leaders. There are hundreds of resources available online to give you a better understanding of the questions being asked in your industry.

Search sector-specific forums and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your own. Likewise, Q&A sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers provide a treasure trove of insights into the topics dominating your industry. When you know the questions being asked, you can begin to formulate the answers people want to hear.

Corporate responsibility is big business

Content marketing is designed to catch public attention, but it’s also vital to mapping a brand’s corporate ethos. The latter has become increasingly relevant as audiences come to see brands as an extension of themselves.

Brands that identify their corporate values through their content can cultivate a lasting connection with their audience providing the content aligns with their personal beliefs. This doesn’t mean shouting every minor act of altruism from the rooftops, but if your company is doing some good in the community or abroad, it’s good marketing practice to let the world know. If your company is working with a charity, this provides even more in the way of inter-brand promotion opportunity. By coordinating the charity’s content marketing with your own, you ensure mutual benefits for both.

This is one of the few areas of content marketing that hasn’t been diluted by the growth in content marketers, as corporate responsibility becomes ever more intertwined with company identity. In fact, companies can now become champions of causes through their content, bringing an issue to the attention of their demographic while positioning themselves as a compassionate brand consumers are proud to be associated with.

Go beyond the blog

Content marketing covers a huge range of media and can encompass anything from a short supporting video to a podcast to a whitepaper in a respected publication. Who could forget the Lego movie, the first ever full-length studio film that also doubles as an exercise in content marketing? OK, so we’re not suggesting you opt for the full studio production, but content marketing doesn’t have to be limited to your own domain.

In fact, there are hundreds of non-conventional methods to get your brand noticed outside of your own website. Posting informed comments on other people’s posts, when not overtly ‘ad-oriented’, can point other readers to your own content. Likewise, answering questions through the aforementioned Quora can prove your credentials before a reader even knows about your company.

Including a link in your profile or occasionally alluding to your company in your answers (providing it’s relevant to the question) can raise your company’s profile while establishing a credible bond of trust between you and the audience.

In conclusion…

Content marketing is changing rapidly, but this shouldn’t be daunting. It means more opportunities for innovative content delivery are becoming available every day. 70% of B2B marketers created more content in 2015 than they did the year previous to that, and the first half of 2016 saw this number rise significantly again. There’s more competition for those top search results than ever before, but the payoffs are bigger in turn.

It’s never been more important to ensure your content is having the biggest impact possible. By staying abreast of all the latest technology, understanding your industry,and being willing to think outside the box, you can increase that impact and make a real difference to the future of your company.

August Marketing & advertising

The month in Marketing & Advertising: August 2016

Advertising, Marketing, News, Technology | No Comments

This month we take a look at the top stories from the worlds of marketing and advertising, including the Rio Olympics and Snapchat’s new user data sharing policy.

Olympics 2016 proves there are winners and losers in marketing too

The 2016 Rio Olympics are over, but the marketing revelations keep on coming. The latest Brand Agility Index study by PR firm Waggener Edstrom Communications revealed the biggest marketing winners of the Olympic sponsors, and the podium has some surprising additions. Samsung and Nissan both earned golds for their performances, while long-time sponsors Visa and McDonald’s both failed to live up to expectations. Both Nissan and Samsung were boosted by the record medal haul enjoyed by team GB, who finished second behind the US. With a series of ads starring comedian Jack Whitehall, Samsung walked a fine line between comedy and drama. Likewise, Nissan took a tongue in cheek approach to the Games with a series of ads in which ‘Nissan executives’ gave team GB athletes a range of bizarre product placement requests. The car company covered every base with their campaign, including harnessing the power of the Games’ appeal through social media coverage and allowing fans to ‘train alongside team GB athletes’ via Facebook Live. With its Olympics hashtag #QuemSeAtreve (#WhoDares) being named third best-performing hashtag of the Games, Nissan outperformed global sponsors and enjoyed a full percentage point increase in their Brazil market share.

August Marketing & Advertising

Twitter signs up Warner Bros for UK ‘promoted stickers’ launch

In anticipation of the latest JK Rowling film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Warner Brothers has teamed up with Twitter to introduce promoted stickers. The campaign will span across the UK, US, Japan, Brazil, France and Spain. The campaign allows brands to design four or eight stickers, which users can then add to their photographs as a form of “visual hashtag.” Photos featuring the brand’s stickers can be found by anyone who taps the sticker, including brands who want to see exactly who are engaging with their brand.

This isn’t the first time the sticker hashtag tool has been used in marketing, although it could be the most innovative use of it yet. Pepsi introduced the concept of visual hashtags in the US earlier this year, with the #PepsiMoji campaign encouraging users to take pics of custom emojis on its products’ packaging. As brands look to new ways to combine the digital and the physical worlds, we can expect a lot more in the way of cross-media, inter-brand collaboration.

August marketing & advertising

Snapchat enables advertisers to access personal user data

In an effort to increase its advertising revenue, Snapchat has pledged to allow advertisers access to personal user data. The move will allow advertisers to provide the most personalised marketing experience to the user since Snapchat first introduced ads back in 2014.  

Of course, the “sophisticated behavioural targeting tool,” as it is referred to, has raised yet more questions about the nature of privacy in social media. The company’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, had even called user tracking for the sake of tailored advertising “creepy,” but it looks like Snapchat has since come round to the idea. Some have called out the user tracking as an invasive measure, despite that the platform will not capture data from your browsing history outside the app. Snapchat addressed the issue, saying “We want you to feel understood. We want to understand what’s relevant to you and your life, and we want to show you things that you’ll care about.” Let us know in the comments what you think of Snapchat’s new personal data policy.

August Marketing & Advertising

Personalisation most important email attribute for click-through

Confirming what most marketers already suspected, this month saw a UK-based survey reveal personalisation as the attribute most likely to prompt click-through in an email marketing campaign. Conducted by French online marketing consultancy firm Mailjet, the survey asked a diverse pool of UK-internet users to point out the top five marketing email features most likely to get them clicking through to a branded page.

The survey found that personalisation took precedent as the most important overall factor, with 40.2% citing it as the most important element for a click-through. The study also threw up some unexpected findings, including that 40% of millennials (respondents aged 16-29) saw the email’s design as the most influential factor. As the age of the respondents rose, the importance placed on design dropped. Likewise, device compatibility was deemed less significant of a factor for older respondents than to those in the ‘millennial’ age bracket, with only 17.1 percent of respondents overall noting it as the most important element. The findings give further strength to Clemmie’s argument that personalisation is now an essential element to all marketing campaigns.

personalised email marketing

Integrate agile marketing into your digital strategy

How to integrate agile marketing into your digital strategy

Advertising, Agile marketing, Marketing, Technology | No Comments

These days businesses need to be able to adapt at a moment’s notice. The internet has given us round-the-clock coverage, instant updates and regular access to all the latest news; it’s no surprise consumers expect brands to keep their output contemporary.

Marketing campaigns need to maintain a liquidity, adapting to the changing needs of the consumer while staying relevant in a dynamic environment. So, by all means, lay out your strategy, but don’t try to carve each day in stone. Businesses capable of responding to changes around them are more likely to entice a new audience, and thus increase their overall reach. Brands that rigidly adhere to their pre-planned marketing strategy with no wiggle-room for new developments, on the other hand, will find their campaigns lagging behind competitors as they struggle to stay in the spotlight. So, just how do you integrate agile marketing into your campaigns, and why do so many marketers struggle to keep pace?

Incorporate client feedback into your campaigns

The growth in social media and corporate responsibility has disrupted the traditional flow of marketing, adding a new dimension to the way content is distributed and consumed by audiences. Today, customers can give feedback directly to companies in full view of their peers. Marketers have to engage with this feedback to prove they are receptive to change and that they really listen to their audience. But some marketers have gone one step further, integrating the customer comments into their campaigns and even building marketing campaigns around feedback alone.

Responding to your consumers is essential to prove you recognise your client-base as individuals, but it also lends a human element to corporations. Just check out the exchange below to see how a humorous response can earn you major social props.

Agile marketing for your digital marketing campaign

Don’t be afraid to engage with other brands

Agile marketing doesn’t just mean engaging with smartasses online, it also requires you engage with other brands when and where it’s relevant. The more witty, elaborate and/or memorable the exchange, the better the audience response and exposure. After popular male perfumery, Old Spice tried to take a bizarre swipe at Taco Bell on Twitter, Taco Bell responded with a concise but scathing putdown.

Agile marketing in your digital marketing
Although the banter between brands is usually lighthearted in nature, the competitive ribbing can give both brands a major boost and entice new customers. Honda tried to drum up interest in its new minivan with a playful Twitter campaign involving foodstuffs likely to be sucked up by the minivan’s built-in vacuum cleaner, but Oreos responded with some clever agile marketing of its own. The best thing about this approach is these social media ‘spats’ rarely have a winner. Providing the exchange is entertaining enough, both parties will be rewarded with increased media and consumer attention.

Make sure it’s relevant to your customer base

Before getting too excited about the prospect of igniting a Twitter ‘feud’ that spreads like wildfire across the digital landscape, it’s important to consider your core brand values, and how well these would be reflected in your choice of subject matter and any other key actors involved. Agile marketing requires a deep understanding of your brand’s perception in the wider world, and poorly judged social marketing can severely damage your brand image.

When the cooking site Epicurious decided to tie their latest recipe (whole-grain cranberry scones if you were wondering) to the Boston Marathon bombing, it highlighted exactly why marketers need to stop and consider timing and tone before trying to engage with a consumer-base. Newsjacking (attaching your brand to a trending topic, such as by adopting a popular hashtag on Twitter) can very easily go wrong, as evidenced in the Tweet below.

Integrate your campaign with topical news

Agile marketing relies on an ability to pivot your strategy according to new developments, both internal and external. For planned events such as the 2016 Olympics in Rio, marketers can prepare their material early and consider each new deployment of content. But agile marketing is all about responding to the unscheduled, going off-script and creating a unique reaction to a particular situation. Culturally significant events are a great opportunity for marketers, but often the best replies come from situations that couldn’t be anticipated.

During the 2016 Euro football, supermarket chain Iceland jumped on the unexpected success of the Iceland international squad with some brilliantly timed Tweets. When Iceland (the country) were drawn against England in the quarterfinals, Iceland (the supermarket) stepped up their social campaign and earned themselves thousands of more Likes, Retweets and Followers.

Agile marketing in your digital marketing

Allow testing and data to take precedent

Agile marketing has existed in some form for several years, but it’s only since the proliferation of data harvesting tools and personalisation platforms that it has been able to be truly agile. Adapting your marketing strategy relies on understanding your competitors, the context in which your campaigns are implemented and the personal preferences of your clients. Marketing attribution has made meeting the latter requirement decidedly easier.

Through monitoring how clients interact with your content, you can adjust your approach according to their personal preferences and ensure your material reaches them through the most effective channels. Agile marketing, by its very nature, is unpredictable, but data gives you the confidence to engage with consumers with a more informed, personalised approach. As your campaign progresses, you can develop a stronger understanding of the most effective content for each consumer and begin to introduce incremental, data-driven changes to your strategy.

Be mindful who you align with your brand

As we said earlier, the topical news is a great platform for getting your brand out there, but this doesn’t mean you should jump on every news story going. It’s important to consider if your brand has any place in tying its name to a popular news piece, particularly if it’s on a subject with no relation to the brand’s purpose, or a sensitive subject that may deem any attempts at brand association as exploiting a painful situation for your own gain. Likewise, as a marketer you have to ensure your brand is associated with people appropriate to your brand message.

This becomes more challenging when agile marketing is involved, but even when a quick decision is needed on a potential brand association, it pays dividends to research the other party and make sure they fit with your core values. When renowned road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his titles following a doping scandal, brands had to move quickly to disassociate themselves from him, and other brands quickly reconsidered sponsoring him for future events.

Agile marketing in your digital marketing

Business intelligence using modern technology

10 ways digital marketing will change in the next 10 years

AI, Marketing, Technology | One Comment

Digital marketing, by its very definition, is constantly developing. As new digital technology becomes available, companies are obligated to evolve with it. Companies unable to adapt will stand little chance of survival, so it’s vital they stay in the loop and embrace new technologies when they become available. But what new digital marketing technologies are on the horizon, and how will they change the profession over the next decade? We take a look at ten ways technology will change the digital marketing landscape forever by 2026.

AI influences everything

This isn’t to say AI will have completely taken over the role of the marketer by 2026. There’s still plenty of stuff that can only be executed with that most human of traits; discretion. Deciding exactly how much time, effort and ad-revenue to invest in a campaign is just beyond AI’s current capabilities. However, it is already taking a front seat in digital marketing. As the technology develops, AI will become essential to creating effective social campaigns, content curation, customer service and even website design. Deep learning is already allowing AI to develop a stronger understanding of the nuances behind marketing campaigns. By 2026, it will come to play an even more integral role and even open new avenues for the industry as a whole.

Mobile is the channel

This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in the real world, but mobile is fast becoming the number one channel by which people view content. Just as AI will be in just a few years, mobile is now a standard element of every marketer’s framework. The number of global users for mobile devices surpassed the number of desktop users back in 2015, and mobile digital media time now accounts for 51% compared to just 42% for desktop, so it’s easy to see why more marketers are ensuring their content has been optimised for mobile than ever before. Digital marketing is steadily shifting its focus to mobile, but by 2026, advances in technology will allow them to market directly to the consumer with custom-made content. Speaking of which…

Personalisation is mandatory

In much the same way that marketing content has to be optimised for mobile if it wants to reach the younger generation, content needs a personal touch to make a real impact. Despite being a relatively new aspect of marketing, it’s only set to increase as technology enables companies to understand more about their audience. Individual analytics and the rise of ‘small data’ are helping fuel a more personal approach to marketing, where consumers are marketed to in a way that suits them. Personalisation stems from understanding consumers, and marketers will be more geared towards engaging with consumers through non-traditional channels as more personal data becomes available. Just as the growth of Snapchat led to a variety of guerilla marketing techniques that weighed the user’s own predilections, new technology will ensure every ad a consumer sees is a case of ‘right place, right time’.

Branded content is a two-way street

In the same vein, the consumer will begin to play a more integral role in a brand’s identity over the coming decade. As the chief marketing officer for Taco Bell Corp, Chris Brandt, explained in a recent article for Co.Create, “User generated content will far exceed branded content and brands need to embrace this and accept they aren’t in complete control of their own brand.” As viral videos and citizen-led product placement give brands more exposure, companies will be consigned to ensuring their brand message is consistent and communicated effectively. The rise of social media has supplied companies with ample exposure courtesy of their audience, but it’s vital the brand ensures it’s the right kind of exposure.

Virtual reality is more than just a novelty

Let’s face it, virtual reality is fun, but its true potential as a marketing tool hasn’t yet been fully realised. Some intriguing examples aside, the medium has been largely limited to gimmicks and vague illustrations of specialist interests. But when it’s done well, VR as a digital marketing tool can be an immersive experience that takes a brand’s message into a new dimension. In Coca-Cola’s recent VR campaign, the packaging for a 12 pack could be transformed into a virtual reality headset, generating sizable online chatter and providing the soft drinks giant with a new in the process. Likewise, tequila company Patron gave their company history a charming visual element through a virtual reality set and a short film. As technology develops, VR will become a more recognised and versatile channel for brand advertising.

The traditional office is a thing of the past

As the internet redraws our concept of boundaries, companies are increasingly turning away from the standard office format. The growth in mobile technology, Cloud software and near-omnipresent internet connection gives us round the clock access to our workplace, even when we’re on the other side of the planet. As a result, the demand for office space is declining. The development of instant video messaging software such as Google Hangouts and content sharing platforms like Slack has made it easier than ever to manage a business from anywhere in the world. Digital marketing is already feeling the impact of this new virtual workplace. With geographic proximity no longer a consideration, employees can work together from across the planet, encouraging a more diverse approach to the traditional marketing campaign.

Startups mean a static market

With the huge increase in digital startups, the market will be a far less predictable place. The invasive rise of the internet has allowed tiny startups to grow rapidly and advances in API are making anticipating the success stories of the future increasingly difficult. Digital marketing, as a result, is in a constant state of flux. This isn’t necessarily a bad omen for your own startup, however. With more companies establishing themselves through non-traditional channels, investors are more open to new opportunities, and the entire process of finding funding has become more democratic as a result. By the mid-twenty-twenties, startups will rely less on major investments from banks, if at all, and more on generating scalable revenue from democratised investment platforms.

More channels mean more opportunities

Marketers have more options for the channels through which to market their content now than at any other point in history. Whilst automation may have made it easier to reach more people with less physical work, the proliferation of different mediums to reach an audience means marketers have to consider much more carefully the way in which they engage with consumers. With so many different channels to use, by 2026 marketers will have to think very carefully about the right mediums to use for their brand.

Transparency is paramount

In a world where corporate responsibility is increasingly under the microscope, companies are under pressure to ensure their business practices are transparent and ethical at all times. Most people, it’s safe to assume, like to think they are fairly ethical people. Therefore, guaranteeing your business operates in a humane and sustainable way gives your brand a relatable brand identity. With public scrutiny of major businesses now commonplace and social media enabling anybody to voice their concerns at a company’s behaviour, digital marketers will have to ensure their content communicates their commitment to ethical business practices at all times.

Marketing attribution ends the spam generation

With more and more companies being able to track exactly how a consumer has arrived at their site, not to mention what they did when they got there, the age of the random, unsolicited ad is almost over. We’re already witnessing companies move towards more targeted campaigns, where consumers only see content their previous web behaviour suggested they may be interested in. As technology improves, companies will only get better at anticipating what a consumer may be interested in, and when the best time to suggest it is.