This article first appeared in Irish Tech News on November 14 2017.
Insights with Randall Glick, Digital Skills Academy
The marketing landscape has significantly evolved in the last decade, and more particularly in the last few years with the arrival of big data, social media, marketing automation platforms and advanced campaign monitoring tools. But new marketing trends always trigger new challenges. We spoke with Digital Marketing Lecturer Randall Glick, from Digital Skills Academy, to discuss current marketing trends and get his advice on how to successfully reach business objectives in the new digital era.
Who is your audience how do you reach it?
To kick off our conversation, Glick emphasised that it is important to answer two questions as a premise to any marketing campaign: What are your marketing objectives and who is your target audience? Without a clear understanding of these two components, your strategy will lack focus. It will also cost more and ultimately achieve less.
With Google Analytics, brand-monitoring tools, social media analytics and social listening software, companies now have access to a wide range of tools to build personas according to demographics and behaviours and define their target audience. “If your audience is on Facebook or YouTube then you need to be there. Once you know this, you can craft effective campaigns to reach your targets”, says Glick.
“You can also use intuitive analytics products such as Alexa.com to look at other websites, investigate competitor web traffic, and research keywords your target audience is using to adapt marketing messages accordingly. Facebook, Google Keyword Planner and Display Planner tools are very useful tools in this context.”
Defining your target personas, i.e. identifying the archetypal representation of your customer base, may require more time than expected. You need to collect data about your audience (demographics, interests, challenges and needs), align the data collected with your business objectives and build your marketing messages accordingly. But the real challenge lies in the fact that companies often make assumptions about their target audience and might miss important stakeholders such as influencers.
How important are influencers when it comes to target audience?
“Influencers are labelled as such because they have a large audience following them on social media”, says Glick. “There are many ways to use influencers in marketing, depending on your strategy. The main one is to reach a large audience quickly, avoiding the cost of digital advertising.”
Your influencers may include your existing customers, your employees or external bloggers passionate about the type of products or services you specialise in.
“Influencers are an alternative channel to reach your target audience, rather than an audience in itself,” continues Glick. “Reaching out directly to these influencers to get them to review your products or services is a great idea. But you need to respect that they are often approached by other providers of similar products or services as well – and may expect some form of compensation.”
So with 63% of marketers increasing their influencer marketing budgets in 2017 and research proving that the ROI generated by influencer marketing is 11 times higher than traditional strategies, what is the most effective and appealing way to reach out to influencers? You will need to assess their value by conducting research on platforms like mention.com or buzzsomo.com . You need to test different strategies, which may include advocacy programmes if your influencers are your employees. You also need to consider hosting thought leadership events, fostering guest blogging strategies or leveraging existing customer databases by highlighting their experience with your product or service.
Glick also states, “Do not ask influencers how much they charge or what they want in compensation. Offer them something that you think they might value such as free samples, a membership to your services, a percentage of sales or a flat fee. It’s quite possible that your offer will be accepted straight away, or that you will get a follow-up email stating what they want in return.”
How Big Data can help you to personalise your campaigns
Big data is ubiquitous in the digital marketing landscape and while it has truly empowered marketers and decision-makers, its complexity is sometimes overwhelming. However, once you have overcome the big data challenge and turned intricate data sets into intelligible information, your marketing campaigns will become granular, personalised and result-driven.
“Big data helps us access touch points from many sources, such as email, social media, web analytics, CRM systems and other customer engagement and tracking tools,” says Glick. “By analysing these touch points, marketers get information on people’s interests and intent, enabling them to connect the available data and get an accurate understanding of their target audience. You can then use all of this data to effectively personalise your marketing messages. Everything is now finely grained and personalised marketing fosters sustainable relationships with clients. It creates stronger brand loyalty and deeper identification with products or services.”
Marketing automation is another example of how marketers can take advantage of the endless possibilities of big data to improve marketing efforts and strategies. “Amazon is still a great example of marketing automation: ‘If you liked X then you might like Y’. It’s a very personalised approach and it is all generated automatically. This technology works and has been around for a while”, continues Glick.
Is Digital Advertising dead?
The 2017 Soda Report says that “40% of client-side marketing and tech leaders plan to ‘significantly increase’ their investment in AI, chatbots and programmatic advertising over the next 12-18 months”. Does this mean that the use and budget put in traditional marketing channels, including online advertising platforms, might soon be dead?
“Investment in AI, chatbots and programmatic advertising is not about building different marketing channels. It’s about applying these tools to existing channels to become more effective and efficient”, says Glick. “Why hire customer service staff, social engagement specialists and staff to handle emails when a chatbot or AI systems can handle that?”
Programmatic advertising takes the drudgery of processing data and doing research out of the hands of marketers, enabling them to concentrate on the strategy and creative elements instead of the research and implementation. “It’s about maximising human potential, not about finding alternatives to digital marketing tools”, states Glick.
Appealing to digital natives with viral marketing strategies
With shorter attention spans, digital natives are eager to consume digital products that are personalised, agile, disruptive and immediately shareable on social media. They, thrive on viral marketing, which often takes the shape of short and edgy videos.
“There are many new ways to allow people to engage with your products, develop word of mouth strategies and generate buzz”, says Glick. “We’ve seen impressive statistics when it comes to viral marketing for millennials: 95% of them watch videos on phones, and a further 90% will watch videos to completion. These percentages clearly illustrate that buzz marketing works [it’s a marketing approach usually triggered by the consumers and influencers to amplify the noise made around a product or service]. It enables you to achieve viral results for your campaigns. This is all inbound marketing and will be the key going forward.”
One particular example given by Glick is the Robotic Billboard Ad by Coca Cola in Times Square. Going beyond a simple 3D ad, Coca Cola designed the billboard so that it personalises content based on the time of day or the day of the week. Tourists and New York commuters might for example walk by at lunchtime and see a video clip featuring a ‘Coke-and-meals’ video clip.
“The ad works well. It’s new and effective marketing”, highlights Glick. “It got people talking and sharing the ad on social media. This will always remain the goal of marketing: to reach out to the right people, with the right product at the right price.”
This new Coca Cola ad is also the perfect example of how AI, VR and AR based technologies are assisting the creation of more personalised, innovative and impactful marketing campaigns. Founder and CEO of Marketing Zen Group Shama Hyder states, “By 2020, the [VR] industry is expected to reach $30 billion, while AR is projected to reach $90 billion by the same year, according to Digi-capital.” The ripple effects in video and digital marketing will undoubtedly be unprecedented – providing marketers with an entire new scope of challenges to develop and market products with even more ingenuity. As Glick says, “It is an exciting time for marketing and marketers!”
You can also read previous contributions from Randall Glick on Irish Tech News here.
Find out more about our degrees and short courses: