The world as we know it has changed dramatically within the past eight months. Everything, from how we eat at restaurants to how we market our products, is undergoing a storm of revolution. But what does this mean for the future of digital marketing?
COVID-19 has left us to consider what advertising problems we’re currently seeing – and which will play a big role in our future. Most of us are already leaping impressive hurdles due to the pandemic and other societal changes, but trust us: more change is still to come.
Let’s talk about some of the biggest problems we see approaching on the horizon of digital marketing. We’ll also arm you with some tips and tricks for dealing with these issues in advance.
Problem #1: Consumers Are Getting Sick of Ads
When was the last time you watched an ad because you wanted to, other than during the Super Bowl?
The average person is now estimated to encounter between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day, and yet most of us groan in annoyance when we have to sit through more than five seconds of promotional content.
Research has revealed that people feel ads are showing up more, becoming increasingly intrusive, and playing a bigger role in their lives. Unfortunately, most of these sentiments fall in the negative range, not positive. People don’t like how much advertising they’re seeing today.
As a result, more and more people are installing ad blockers and working on ways to avoid seeing ads. It’s expected that by 2021, 27 percent of internet users will rely on ad blockers. As Professor Oswald of Harvard University found, advertising makes most of us unhappy – and we’ll tend to steer away from it when we can.
So, if you’re the kind of brand that has relied highly on pop-up ads and programmatic, it’s time to think about what you will do if a large chunk of your potential customers is using blockers.
Our suggestion? Act now to spin shoppers’ perspective on your advertisement.
This is your chance to change people’s feelings of annoyance when they see your ad to one of positive enjoyment.
As you can see, people don’t mind seeing advertisements when they’re funny, interesting, or from a brand they already know and trust. The key to continuing positive sentiments is to engage your audience with credible, humorous, and/or engaging advertorial content.
If you ask us, in the future of digital marketing, consumers will have a big say in which ads they watch and which they don’t. Make sure that you’re one of the few brands they enjoy interacting with while in a promotional environment.
Problem #2: Increasingly Inconsistent Brand Values
Any marketer worth their stuff knows that consistency is key to maintaining a strong brand image. Unfortunately, we live in a time when maintaining that consistency is harder than it seems.
Every day, there’s a new social issue to comment on. A new trend to embrace. A different issue or concern to address. In a time when every company is working to jump on the latest bandwagon and showcase their morals and values, inconsistency is a risk. When looking at the future of digital marketing, inconsistency is a death sentence.
If you, as a brand, attempt to target each and every societal change that the future throws your way, you run the risk of appearing flimsy and easily swayable to your audience.
The biggest problem with inconsistent branding? Confusion.
Your customers need to know exactly what you stand for in the long-term, not what you feel every minute of every day during societal changes.
Consumers develop relationships with brands when they share common values. If your values are changing, or if you have so many that people can’t keep track, consumers will struggle to build a trusting relationship with your company.
Still, it is important to take part in societal changes and make your voice heard on important matters. So, how can your brand maintain consistency and pipe up when it needs to? We suggest:
- Learning what you want your brand message to be. What’s your tone, your personality, your overall goal?
- Learning more about your audience. What do they really want to hear from you?
- Ensure your actions align with your statements. A simple Tweet or Instagram post isn’t smart if it doesn’t align with what your brand actually does.
- Interact with consumers on a regular basis and present a consistent voice to them, even when addressing problematic issues or changes.
Remember: it’s okay to adjust your brand image as necessary for the sake of keeping customers. However, every change you instigate, every big statement you make, contributes to the brand’s overall appearance.
Focus on keeping everything in sync as your brand grows. Don’t let the latest bandwagon put a hiccup in your brand development. Instead, handle every change in a manner that’s consistent with your character.
Problem #3: An Excess of Consumer Data
Today, we can learn about pretty much anything we want to. Want to know your average audience member’s age? Sure. Interested to know what kinds of clothing they wear? Okay. Looking for income research? You’ve got it.
You name it, there’s a stat out there for it. If the research doesn’t already exist, you can easily gather it with the right tools and services. This information is incredibly helpful when it comes to targeted marketing and branding.
However, what we’ve realized in the past few years is that too much data can be a bad thing. Let us explain why.
As you can see in the graph above, only about 45 percent of most brands’ data is actually usable. The rest is “dark data.” In other words, this is data that cannot be used to derive insights for real decision making.
You might be thinking, “Well, I’ll just use what’s actually helpful.” That sounds like a great plan, except for the fact that finding “good” data is much harder when the majority of your information is dark.
That’s why focusing on too much data at once leads to a lack of specific, usable data. The more information you have to sift through, the more challenging it becomes to find those gems of data that should drive real change within your brand.
The question is, how can you know which data will bring insight, and which will just clutter your collection? Let’s talk about it.
According to recent research, the most valuable data typically comes from your internal sales and customer service teams. These are the guys who interact with customers on a daily or weekly basis. They know what they want, and they’re best positioned to identify usable data.
Data from channel partners and resellers, on the other hand, is almost 50 percent less effective. Why?
They’re not actually a part of your brand. They know less about what you really need, which means they’re essentially swinging in the dark when trying to find helpful information.
If you’re going to gather data (as you should), keep these helpful tips in mind:
- Surveys are an excellent way to pick and choose what info you collect.
- Set timeframes for data collection so you don’t gather too much for too long.
- Not every data collection method is essential for your specific brand.
- Being able to analyze your data is just as important as learning to collect it.
As we move into 2021 and beyond, the ability to gather data will only grow. That’s why you need to determine what’s important now. Start practicing smart data collection today so that you aren’t overwhelmed by an influx of dark data as the future of digital marketing approaches.
Problem #4: Growing Privacy Concerns
You might be thinking that extra concern and protection for consumer privacy is great – and you’re right. We obviously want (and need) more measures for keeping personal information safe.
People are now using anti-tracking software as they interact with the internet under tighter data protection laws and content regulation. Consumers are safer, but at the same time, a lot is changing.
From a digital marketing perspective, an emphasis on privacy measures could make a difference in how we advertise. Commercial data will likely become less abundant in the future as more people hide their activities online.
Simultaneously, people will grow to expect more personalized advertising that fits their needs. So, how can digital marketers (a) respect consumer privacy laws and restrictions while (b) personalizing messaging to each individual consumer?
It’s a bit of a conundrum, and one that we will continuously have to deal with as privacy policies change. Our suggestion for handling the paradox? Well, we have a few.
- Understand ALL of the legal requirements when it comes to data regulations.
- Focus on customization that benefits the consumer, not you.
- Use data to enhance customer experiences rather than advertising.
- Turn to legal counsel whenever you’re unsure about the use of private information.
Perhaps most importantly, keep up with the latest changes in data restrictions. Big corporations have the best lawyers on the planet to help them when they encounter sticky situations – small brands don’t. You’ll need to watch out for fines and legal trouble as you use private information to market.
At the end of the day, you want to reassure your audience that you’re handling their information respectfully and safely. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll want to customize their experiences enough to reel them in.
Finding that balance will be one of the most difficult tasks in the future of digital marketing – and beyond.
Problem #5: Too Many Social Platforms To Choose From
Lastly, let’s take a look at the fact that there are tons of platforms for digital marketers today. In fact, there might be too many to pick from.
Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. YouTube. TikTok. Tumblr. Quora. WhatsApp. Reddit. LinkedIn. All of these platforms have a place in the future of digital marketing – but it’s up to you to decide which ones best suit your brand’s goals.
We have plenty of research that indicates Facebook’s reigning power as the most-used social media app. However, that doesn’t mean that Facebook is THE best place to devote all of your advertising dollars and energy.
Depending on your brand type and your audience, you might be better off picking another few platforms to spread all of your funds around.
Although Facebook might have the most users, Instagram has been shown to have the highest rate of engagement growth for most brands. Twitter, interestingly, is the most powerful resource for B2B businesses who want to share news quickly. Pinterest is extremely useful for artists and graphic designers who need a visual platform.
What we’re trying to say is that no platform wins when it comes to digital marketing. Each has its own strengths. What does cause a problem, though, is when brands attempt to utilize all social media platforms rather than diving deep into a few.
As Agility PR found, too many social media platforms can actually hurt your brand and consumer loyalty. Think of your marketing budget and time as butter and platforms as bread. If you try to spread too much over too many pieces, you’ll wind up with pretty unbuttered bread.
In the long run, you’re probably better off picking a few great social media platforms to use instead of jumping on every new one that hits the app store. This is especially important to keep in mind as we head into a marketing future based primarily online and in apps.
If we’ve done our jobs right, we’ve given you a great deal to think about with this article. We see all of these issues are real threats that loom on the horizon for many digital marketers, and we encourage you to start considering them now before they have the chance to compromise your brand.
COVID-19, societal changes, and economical stress are already bringing some of these problems to the forefront. How is your brand handling them, and what will you do differently in the future?
Are you looking to ramp up your digital marketing efforts in the (very) near future? Get in contact with E2M today!