Chief marketing officers have the challenging task of directing marketing strategy in today’s constantly shifting business landscape. Meeting and exceeding customer demands is difficult enough, but now CMOs must be prepared for a range of technological and sociological disruptions. If handled well, these disruptions can result in a competitive advantage for the business. If handled poorly, these disruptions can result in lost revenue and even a damaged public image.
As businesses continue to transform in this new age of technology and information, marketing will only become more imperative to a successful business strategy. For that reason, it is more important than ever that CMOs refine their media planning strategy to meet each potential challenge head-on. To learn the top five trends impacting market strategy this year, read on:
Customers Want an Emotional Connection
Many marketers struggle with establishing a strong emotional connection with customers. This may be due to the role of data becoming more influential in the media planning strategies of CMOs and marketers. A hyper-focus on data can lead some marketers to forget a critical piece of information: All customers are people. People generally enjoy leading their own experiences, and value authenticity in all forms. Creating a powerful emotional connection goes beyond personalization, which should already be a staple in your media planning and marketing strategy.
Consumers are concerned with authenticity more than ever. 86 percent of consumers find authenticity important when deciding which brand to support. This number is even more significant among millennials, with 90 percent believing in the importance of authenticity. This is why influencers and brand loyalists are becoming integral parts of many media planning strategies. According to Stackla, consumers are three times more likely to believe that content generated by another consumer is authentic. This means that resonating with your customer’s beliefs and opening a dialogue with them is more important than ever.
The best way to solidify the position of your brand to your customers is by determining your organization’s purpose. A purpose isn’t a mission statement or value statement, which are internally generated. A purpose is customer generated. To begin learning what your organization’s purpose is, define what your organization really does for customers from the customer’s perspective. This purpose can then be utilized in a creative or aspirational theme for marketing messages. If it resonates, ensure that this purpose will grow beyond media planning objectives and eventually influence your operations. This will assure customers that your organization’s purpose is authentic and actionable.
Concerns about Data Privacy & Security are Growing
In 2018, data breaches and data legislation were moved to the forefront of people’s minds. To answer these widespread data concerns, the EU passed GDPR, which made data privacy an expectation across all organizations hoping to conduct business in the EU. This change in legislation reflects the global discussion on data privacy and data usage. Pressure has been put on companies as a result to use and collect data responsibly.
Be very mindful about how your organization collects customer data, and has collected data in the past. Focus only on the data that your organization needs to do business. Data collection is now directly tied to creating value for consumers and creating material that consumers would want to opt-in to. White papers, newsletters, or other assets that provide industry insights or focus on your target audience’s interests are great ways to connect with prospects and customers. Consider the following: About 7 million subscribers receive theSkimm newsletter Monday through Friday to stay up to date in the news. Created in 2012, the founders had been told that email was dead. Due to their ability to create value for their readers, theSkimm continues to grow, having raised $28 million dollars from investors since its creation.
Handling customer and prospect data in a responsible manner is also an important part of the process. Consider the following steps:
- Be Transparent: Be transparent about the data you are collecting and why. For example: If you invite users to give their email address to sign up for your company newsletters, users must understand why they are giving you data and opt-in to it.
- Be Trustworthy: Customers and prospects trust you with their data, so be sure to use it only in the ways you articulate to them. Also focus on only collecting the data your organization needs. Personal information that isn’t relevant to the business shouldn’t be collected.
- Provide Options: Customers and prospects should be able to unsubscribe to email lists or opt-out of further contact. Providing them with the options to manage their data will create more trust and credibility.
- Organize the Data: How do you currently organize customer or prospect data and information? Be sure to keep an account of where these may be located, should a customer or prospect request to have it removed. This can include CRM platforms and marketing automation systems.
- Consult Your Legal Team: Regulations are different across countries. Seek guidance from your legal team if you are unclear on how data can or should be used. They will be the ones who can best assist you in making sure your organization remains compliant.
Be Mindful of Changes in Mobile Technology
At this point, it is undeniable that mobile technology has a huge influence on modern media planning strategies. This influence will continue – in 2019, 79 percent of advertising spend will be on mobile ads. This spending isn’t unjustified, either: In some markets, mobile ads can be thirty times more effective than internet ads. As mobile technology becomes more sophisticated, your organization must be on the look-out for the next disruptor.
Don’t expect traditional Search Engine Optimization techniques to become any less important, but expect some newcomers on the horizon. As voice recognition technology improves and becomes more ubiquitous, the influence of voice search is growing. Experts predict that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be executed by voice. As your organization’s search strategy grows to encompass voice search, follow the development of up-and-coming visual search. This technology will allow consumers to point their phone at an object and perform a search for more information based on its visual qualities. This will help customers find aesthetically similar objects, or just learn where to purchase the exact item. With 93 percent of customers using visuals as a deciding factor in a purchasing decision, this can be a huge differentiator for your organization’s marketing strategy.
MarTech is More Influential Than Ever
Digital transformation has forced CMOs to reevaluate their marketing strategies to utilize the most state-of-the-art marketing technology available. One innovation that has significantly impacted marketing technology is Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). One example of how AI/ML can be utilized for marketing is by predictive analytics, which combines insights from various datasets, models, and algorithms to predict the future behavior of your customers. Despite the invaluable information the predictive analytics provides, 55 percent of marketers aren’t leveraging these metrics. AI and ML can also be harnessed to create chatbots that can assist with customer requests and ensure a smooth purchasing process. For example, Levi’s utilizes a chatbot that presents as a virtual stylist. This robotic stylist, named Indigo, was created to reduce returns due to mis-sizing – a common issue with many online clothing retailers. By overcoming this hurdle, Levi’s can expect more satisfied customers and less expenses from processing returns.
Another burgeoning technology to pay attention to is Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Reality (AR). These two technologies are great ways to supplement the customer experience. For example, TOMS, a philanthropic shoe company, built a VR experience showcasing their journey of delivering TOMS shoes to children in need. This gives the viewer a hands-on experience, and helps them better understand the purpose behind TOMS shoes. Using VR, TOMS is able to create an unforgettable experience for their customers to enjoy, and ultimately this creates greater trust with their customers.
These technologies may sound exciting, but don’t invest your organization’s time or money in them just based on hype. Your organization must identify key areas where this technology can grow customer relationships. Customers shouldn’t just be mildly amused by your organization joining a trend, and then move on. This technology should be used to help drive personalized, emotionally informed experiences that ultimately will fulfil a goal. To ensure success, be read to set KPIs set around a measurable goal, whether that is increasing revenue or increasing brand image. Investing in marketing technology absolutely requires a clearly defined purpose and goal.
Develop Long Term Strategies Across the OmniChannel
In today’s data driven world, marketers often focus solely on gathering highly detailed data that communicates what their customers are thinking right now. This granular data is multi-purpose and very valuable, but using only granular data will create an incomplete analysis of marketing demands. Marketing professionals often become so fascinated by granular data that they fail to see the forest for the trees. As a result, marketers get an excellent idea of what their customers are thinking and reacting to in the short term. However, they have a very unsophisticated view of how their market thinks and behaves in the long term.
Organizations need to consider long-term data in addition to the granular right-now data from all of their marketing channels. These datasets are necessary to build the framework for a long-term marketing plan. Even though customers are individuals and generally should be engaged as such, don’t forget that humans like to gravitate towards groups. Aggregating long-term data, like metrics collected through media mix modeling, is a key part of an effective media planning strategy, as it will help determine actionable insights backed by historical data. When leveraging unified marketing measurement, marketers are able to aggregate short-term and long-term data in one centralized location. By better knowing the past of your target audience, your organization will be able to plan more effectively for their future.
As time progresses, it seems that CMOs will continue to be challenged by a rapidly changing marketing landscape. Although it may be difficult, it is vital that your media planning strategy adapts to these changes and trends proactively. This way, your organization will be able to seize a competitive advantage instead of losing market share and falling behind.