In 2016, value for the customer should be what marketers and PR professionals focus on first. Value drives everything for one simple reason - we've lost control over delivery and consumption. This is a good thing. With approximately 63% of millennials blocking advertisements, and 80% of registered display ad impressions either fake or created by bots, it's harder and harder to rely on traditional digital marketing channels to get your brand's value in front of your target audience. Despite these apparent difficulties, there are massive opportunities to reach your audiences on less traditional platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, which have over a billion active monthly users between them. However, in order to reach this extremely valuable audience marketers are going to have to be willing to differentiate themselves within their marketplace and take chances.
A big part of brands differentiating themselves starts with how they structure their "omni-channel marketing" campaigns. "Omni-channel marketing" is a pretty broad phrase, and before we discuss what trends will define it this year we need to fully understand what it means. While the truth is that it's a phrase marketers invented for other marketers to make them look more intelligent, at its core omni-channel marketing means respecting users above all else by presenting them with content on a myriad of different platforms in a way that provides them value. This means making your brand's content or messaging available in such a way that the consumer can decide where and how they want to interact with you while creating unique value-driven experiences through channels and platforms that effectively reach your target audience.
Omni-Channel Marketing Strategies of Tomorrow
When it comes to creating an omni-channel strategy in 2016, planning everything in a step-by-step process is key. Moreover, it's important for businesses to understand 4 relatively simple things before they even get started at trying to create marketing magic:
- You can't beat algorithms like Google's search engine algorithm. Trying to do so is a waste of your business' or your client's time, money, and energy.
- The internet isn't free, and it never will be. If you want to do digital marketing correctly at some point there will be a need to spend money.
- Only investing in marketing initiatives that create an initial audience touchpoint with your business is a huge mistake. It's almost impossible to win new business unless you target each and every step of a user's interaction with your business properly.
- Investing in a single channel like SEO, email, or PPC is not a marketing strategy. In order for marketing to work think about how an individual channel will achieve success within the context of a greater marketing plan.
To create the perfect marketing strategies of tomorrow, start by breaking down the thought process of your marketing strategies into a 3 step process:
Does This Idea Add Value?
Campaigns should fill a gap in the marketplace or solve a problem for your customers, whether it is a real problem customers face or an imagined problem that they want to solve. It's important to remember two things as you consider this - the first is that if the only person who gets the value of a campaign is you, it's a bad idea. Cater to the needs of your customers and if you aren't sure what their needs are conduct research to correctly identify them. The second thing to remember is that the value you provide to audiences can be disproportional to what you're asking in return. Sometimes asking for nothing for a piece of content will get you much more value in the long run.
Where Can I Best Provide Value?
Creating a rock-solid marketing plan that isn't properly targeted to an audience is one of the worst mistakes a business can make. Provide value in the right places and avoid blasting general brand messaging across the internet in the hopes that the right people see it. Choose the tactical channels within your campaign carefully so you can reach the highest possible percentage of your target audience. Content should be created with each channel in mind beforehand so you can be sure to capture your audience's attention in all the right ways.
Execute, Execute, Execute
Even the best marketing ideas fall flat without proper execution. Go beyond promoting your business online - remember to target campaigns towards relevant platforms where your target audience is active. With new advertising options like Instagram, and Google's new "Gmail Sponsored Promotions" there are lots of new opportunities that could be extremely successful for your business. Doing your research and understanding how to execute campaigns on these new platforms will help generate return on investment while providing your business a way to differentiate itself within the marketplace.
What's Next for Channels?
Identifying what new channels will take off in 2016 is a large part of being better prepared to create campaigns that generate return on investment and help your business stand apart from the competition. While saying with certainty what new marketing opportunities will define 2016 is difficult, there are a few trends we expect to see more of within standard omni-channel marketing
Towards the end of 2015 we started to see retailers take advantage of some social media platforms' new ability to make purchases from within each channel. This was particularly evident on Facebook, which began to allow retailers to sell products right on their Facebook page. Seeing as users already use social media to check for sales, compare prices, and read product reviews, it makes sense for retailers to take advantage of this powerful opportunity instead of forcing audiences to go elsewhere online to make an actual purchase. Users can now buy items without ever leaving their social media platform of choice, an extremely significant development when you consider the amount of investment that would otherwise be spent on alternatives like apps or responsive sites to close a sale.
Video Ad Units
If you've been active on Facebook during the last 6 months you've undoubtedly noticed the increase of videos in your news feed. Native video on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are quickly gaining in popularity, and should be a mainstay of any marketing campaign built in 2016. Brands, publishers, and everyday people are creating video content at exponentially higher rates year after year, and with production costs plummeting the market is now wide open for existing and new businesses alike to take a cost-efficient chance on video where it wouldn't have previously made sense in an omni-channel marketing strategy.
Real Location Mobile Ads
A great advantage of digital marketing is the specificity with which advertisers are able to target an audience. One of the most widely used dimensions to do this is location, which historically has been relatively limited in its ability to target certain locations. Traditional geofencing, or targeting ads based on a general area like a zip code or a city, is being replaced with geo points, which allows advertisers to target specific buildings, conventions, and businesses. With an extremely low cost-per-click rate, genuine attribution for brick and mortar locations, and increased relevancy that effectively cuts through the noise of the competition, more omni-channel strategies will be defined by more specific location targeting in the new year than they have been in the past.
Content That Tells a Story
"Content is king" is a refrain that has been chanted by content marketers and SEO professionals alike for years now, but recent changes in search engine algorithms like Google's "Panda" content update have facilitated a widespread change in digital content. The days of writing for search engine algorithms are gone, and focus has shifted to creating deep emotional connections with audiences and connecting content across channels and devices to create a great user experience. Digital consumers are demanding a more meaningful engagement experience from the content businesses provide them and it's time for traditional brands to adapt or die in a world where everyone is a media company.
Build Your Omni-Channel Campaigns for the Future
While it can be overwhelming to think about omni-channel marketing strategy, let alone how you're going to tweak specific marketing tactics within the strategy to keep up with growing and changing trends in your vertical, it's key that brands take the time to properly plan out their marketing efforts. By incorporating new trends into a broader, more holistic marketing plan you help ensure that each marketing channel not only provides greater ROI, but that it is a part of a more complete marketing plan that is built to succeed in the long term.