For those of us in the Midwest, a glance outside the window reveals grey skies, falling leaves and cooling temperatures, three undeniable signs that the year is winding down and the beginning of a new one is close at hand. For those of us in marketing, it is the time to ensure that next year’s plans include the evolution that is needed to keep pace with our rapidly changing industry.
So, without further ado, let me offer up five marketing trends I feel will play a critical role in this coming year:
Paid search and display are now table stakes in nearly every client’s media mix. Incorporating stronger use of content and native advertising strategies can greatly improve your results. Banner click-through rates continue the decline they have been on since their peak back in 2000 (9% then, less than 1% now), and marketers need to expand the ways they approach online placements and engage their customers and prospects more strategically.
Native advertising offers immediate opportunity. Beyond the more conventional paid editorial content that is designed to resemble a publication’s general layout, native has effectively been adopted into social media in virtually every platform from Facebook to Tinder.
What’s more, in the current landscape, it is outperforming some more traditional forms of online advertising:
- Native ads are viewed 53% more frequently than traditional ads.
- Native advertising can increase brand lift by as much as 82%.
- Purchase intent is 53% higher when consumers click on native ads instead of traditional ads.
- Native ads containing rich media can boost conversion by as much as 60%.
To a marketer serious about building trust and engagement with prospective customers, native advertising delivers. It’s cost-effective, more likely to be shared and, best yet, can provide legitimate educational benefits to the reader.
With LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter leading the way in terms of effectiveness, B2B marketers are becoming more successful at converting social media presence into leads and, in time, revenue. When it comes to content distribution, audience reach and brand building in today's media environment, social must be within a B2B marketer’s toolbox.
However, the social landscape is in a constant state of flux as new possibilities are identified and harnessed. In a recent Inc. magazine article, six key trends merit keeping an eye on for next year. Here’s a sampling:
- Embracing content personalization—Evolving and improving analytics provide the kind of refined data that allows “marketers…the insights to craft better and more personalized content for their audiences.”
- Avoiding platform feature overlap—With more platforms offering overlapping features, marketers need to be more selective about which to choose. For example, Snapchat and Instagram both feature timed videos and visual content, which leaves audience and reach as their main points of differentiation. So it’s critical to “take advantage of analytics and reporting features to identify which platforms…offer you the best return.”
- It’s all about video—Effective and imminently measurable, video should be within your overall marketing strategy and will only continue to become a more valuable marketing tool. The key to the right content, created efficiently.
Account Based Marketing
With the sophistication of IP targeting and the many different databases that can be used to create custom segments for both online and offline targeting, account based marketing is no longer a pipe dream. Every B2B organization should be looking at ways to implement account based strategies. The alignment of sales and marketing has often been a management objective, but now it should be an imperative. This strategy takes diligence and collaboration between marketing and sales, but everyone knows that's supposed to be happening anyway, so get on with it.
It may sound paradoxical on its face, marketing to a smaller group, a brand can reach a much larger audience, influencer marketing works. According to a smartinsights.com article, “over 80% of marketers who had undertaken campaigns collaborating with social media influencers found them effective for driving both engagement and awareness.” That’s the power of trusted 3rd parties, professionals like bloggers, journalists, industry analysts, academics and public figures. Get them to trust your brand, they’ll get others to do the same. The proof is in the pudding.
Next Gen Automation
One of the fastest growing marketing trends today, automation is the perfect technology for marketers with a complex or longer sales cycle. Marketing automation can provide a less labor-intensive way of reaching customers with content that is specific to their interest throughout the purchasing journey. Smart automation will tie in email, mobile, social, search and other digital campaigns along the purchase path. It’s changed the way companies market to and nurture customers and prospects enabling marketers to engage them more effectively to promote a purchase, build trust and generate referrals. According to a recent Inc. magazine article, “the next generation of marketing automation tools are now being used by all sizes and types of organizations to accomplish a variety of objectives, such as driving e-commerce revenue, generating and nurturing leads, accumulating customer intelligence, managing cross-channel campaigns and account-based marketing.”
There you have them, my picks for marketing trends to make sure you activate in 2018. How do you feel about the list? Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear from you.