We are a society driven by digital technology. Such is its impact that there are countries where citizens don’t have running water, but own smartphones. Digital marketing has an incredible influence on people’s interactions, work, purchases and life habits.
As such, companies today need to have a firm grasp on how to utilize the digital universe to maximize their brand awareness and impact. In this blog, we look at 9 of the biggest ways that digital marketing has changed and keeps changing the way businesses and brands operate.
1) Instant Communication
Interacting with potential customers today can be like spinning a roulette wheel. The roulette ball represents the company’s marketing message, which will spin and bounce as the wheel turns before finally landing on a space (i.e. a customer). Social media acts as the wheel itself, and it allows companies to interact with people in a public venue, providing a channel to promote products, services and transparent messages.
But there’s a new player in the game, and businesses need to figure out how to jump on the proverbial boat before it leaves the harbor. According to the Economist, a quarter of all downloaded apps are abandoned after a single use with only instant messaging bucking the trend.
One–on-one messaging and private chat groups are on fire right now. Facebook messenger has 900 million global users, and studies have shown that teenagers now spend more time on messaging apps than they do on actual social networks. To tap into this burgeoning market, savvy companies are introducing methods of connecting with, and marketing to, potential clients through these kinds of applications.
2) Content Overload
Just how much content is distributed via social media and messaging apps? The answer is huge, so huge that it has been given the term content shock. Every 60 seconds 3.3 million people make a Facebook post, and 29 million messages are distributed via Whatsapp. That means that marketers have their work cut out if they’re going to get their message and brand noticed by the people using these applications.
Rolex is a great example of a classic brand that’s is using creativity to get its marketing message across to customers and prospects. As a brand with 112 years of history behind it, this could pose issues in keeping the brand fresh. However, it overcomes this by creating high-quality and appealing product images that have a curated feel and highlight the classic nature and reliability of their product. Using stylish and minimalist images in its photography, videos and editorial work it screams class and appeals to customers by highlighting its quality products and timeless tagline.
3) Droves of Data
Modern technology allows marketers to gain a tremendous amount of knowledge about their customers. However, companies need to know how, where and when to use that data. Some of the best ways to achieve this are:
- Knowing which metrics are most important to company success – the key to getting impact from data is knowing what your organization wants to get from it. The key is to be very specific about what the business outcomes are and build that into how the data is measured and how it impacts on the wider business.
- Knowing which customer channels are going to pay off – the array of technologies and channels is such that a brand needs to focus on the ones that their customer engage with in a meaningful way. Likes and comments may seem important but what really matters is engagement that builds a relationship between a customer and a brand.
- Having employees with the analytic skills to process data – all the data in the world is useless without the skills in-house to know what to do with it. Insights from data are what can drive a business and help them understand the behavior and pain points of a consumer.
- Creating content that is personalized and customer focused – The colossal amount of data in cyberspace makes it hard for any brand to make a real impact. The key is knowing who the target audience is and creating content that grabs their attention and encourages them to engage.
4) Demands Transparency
In today’s digital world, customers want to know about the companies they interact with and purchase from. In order to build loyalty brands need to be transparent and demonstrate their personality online and the company’s ethos. This is particularly relevant when it comes to food products with consumers wanting to know exactly what's in the things they eat.
A study by Label Insight only 12% of consumers trust companies when it comes to packaging and look for information on the product elsewhere although 67% believe it's up to the brand to provide them with his information.
For those businesses that are transparent and do communicate openly with customers, the reward is loyalty with 94% of consumers claiming to stick with a company that offers transparency and 73% would be willing to pay more for a product that offers it.
This need for transparency in food packaging extends to many aspects of business from where how it treats its employees to what it gives back to society and communities. Digital leaders will understand this and ensure that their customers are informed with relevant information, be it good, bad or ugly.
5) Fosters Intimacy
Businesses can learn an enormous amount about potential customers based on data they can gather. The smart companies are using this data to create extremely personal marketing messages, and the younger generation is eating it up.
Social goings-on and the perception of others seems to be a driving motivator among millennials. This makes personalization a powerful tool, as 85% of users are more likely to buy a product if the message is personalized and supported by social.
One company that excels in this area is EasyJet.
To celebrate 20 years in business, the company analyzed their data, to see what insights could be gathered from customers and found inspiring pieces of information about their customers’ journeys. The result was an email campaign using dynamic copy, images and links to tell each customer’s story from their first flight to ones in the future flights, adding some fascinating facts about their travel behavior and recommendations for future trips.
What resulted was open rates of over 100% more than an average easyJet newsletter – with 25% higher click-through rates. On social media, people reacted within minutes with an overwhelmingly positive response with a reach of 685,000 people and over 1.1 million impressions. In addition across all markets, 7.5% of customers who received the email made a booking in the next 30 days.
6) A New Breed of Influencers
Social media and video outlets like YouTube have enabled ’regular’ people to become incredibly influential. Companies no longer need to hire celebrities to endorse their products in order to get millions of people interested in their product or service.
Now, ordinary people with no credentials other than droves of followers on social media have the ability to influence those simply by endorsing a certain product. Take Swedish web-based comedian PewDiePie with more than 47 million. While micro-influencers – those with below 100,000 followers have more influence and have higher engagement rates than well-known celebrities.
Aware of these new influencers, brands have taken to hiring influencers to persuade and engage customers. Take Coca-Cola for example who have moved from a reliance on influencer product placements to hiring influencers as hosts on its own YouTube channel, Coke TV.
This has created interaction between the brand and the audience far beyond standard product placement. Young people are a bit bored of advertising,” stated Philip Hartmann, Head of Content at Coca-Cola Germany.
7) Playing Catch-Up
Digital technology changes at an incredibly fast pace; often overnight. Relentless in its pace, these changes require employees across departments to be agile, work collaboratively and most importantly keep up to date with development so they have the skills to adapt and use these changes to the company's advantage.
Continuing education provided as and when employees need it is a great way to achieve this. By upskilling a workforce in the latest and most relevant technologies, strategies and techniques, employees can be proactive in knowing what is coming down the line and understand how their brand can use these changes to their advantage.
Take IBM as an example. Acutely aware of the changing landscape they introduced a digital selling pilot program that transformed their traditional sales team into digital sellers. The pilot proved so successful that it has now been rolled out on a global scale to transform the selling capabilities of its staff, drive revenue and improve its mindshare and status across online networks.
In essence, to achieve digital success, businesses across industries need to be aware of the pace of change and invest in learning and development initiatives that ensure their workforce are on the cutting edge of digital marketing and selling tactics.
8) Encourage Innovation
This new landscape has forced brands to be innovative using new ways to reach out and engage with their customers. In the face of disrupters, many sectors have had to be creative and take initiatives that enable them to compete. Take the financial sector for examples, faced with stiff competition from PayPal and Google Wallet, financial institutions needed new ways to engage with and influence customers.
For many collaborating with the up and coming disrupters with fresh and new ideas was seen as the best way to achieve this. Through innovation centers, major players in the industry such as HSBC and JP Morgan are embracing the new world of digital in order to serve their customers better.
Opening an innovation lab in Asia Pacific proved a stroke of genius for HSBC who used the center to develop next generation digital and mobile banking services. The aim is for this lab to strengthen the bank’s global program of innovation so they can leverage international reach and connectivity.
9) Made Brands More Human
Due to its popularity and influence, social media marketing should be front and center on any company’s marketing strategy as customers need to trust and understand the company they are buying from.
One of best examples of a company that has got this concept down to an art is Apple. Strategic marketing ensures that brand awareness rules supreme among their users, and it’s so effective that Apple has millions of people supporting their products before they are even released!
They achieve this by using live streamed events resulting in hordes of devoted customers that feel like they are part of the brand’s journey and as such when Apple launches a new product they have a committed and attentive audience.
In conclusion, the bottom line is that if a brand wants to be successful now and in the foreseeable future, they need to invest in a kind of “cultural radar” by keeping abreast of evolving technology and platforms along with investing in digital talent that can understand the customer journey and interpret relevant data to form informative insights. Those brands that can adopt and adapt will surge ahead of their competitors.