Over the past few years, the digital marketing sphere has undergone some significant changes. The rise of social media and numerous additional marketing channels, a shift from search-based to feed-based consumer behaviour, as well as new technological possibilities for tracking and targeting users require new approaches to be effective.
One key aspect is the ever increasing emphasis on the needs of individual users. Taking advantage of the reach provided by platforms and marketplaces which have emerged and prospered in recent years is another reason.
In light of these developments, here are five trends to look out for in digital marketing.
(Systematic) Content Marketing
The possibilities of systematically using content for marketing purposes have significantly increased over the past few years. Platforms like Facebook, particularly through sponsored posts, and players like Taboola or Outbrain have facilitated a more systematic approach to content marketing. Content marketing used to rely mainly on PR and SEO efforts to generate reach, but the distribution nowadays increasingly resembles traditional media buying.
Due to this development, every marketing department needs to address the challenge of producing high-quality (marketing) content in a scalable way. This applies to editorial as well as product or service content.
The main objective of content marketing is user engagement. This has positive effects on SEO as well, since search engines increasingly account for content that is useful or attractive. Also, social signalling has become more relevant in this context. Merely optimizing content with respect to keywords is not sufficient anymore.
Actively Shaping User Journeys
As a consequence of the changes, marketers face the challenge of not merely attributing touch points along user journeys in a passive way, but instead also actively shaping the journey to the end. An optimal return on marketing invest (ROMI) can then be achieved. In addition, this trend is reinforced by the capabilities of digital, often biddable ads and corresponding buying systems.
Looking ahead, the concept of storytelling throughout the whole AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) funnel will become increasingly important. ROI considerations will be based more and more on user journeys instead of single ad placements or specific campaigns.
Cross-Channel/Device Marketing Orchestration
Since the individual user and user journey should be in the spotlight, a user-specific orchestrated management of contacts across all channels and devices becomes more important. The urgency of a comprehensive and consistent cross-channel marketing orchestration is amplified by an increasing number of available channels and/or devices per user. Segmentations of different granularity can be applied to obtain accurate targeting, thus making marketing efforts more effective.
In order to tap the full potential of an orchestrated contact management, it is essential to take advantage of proprietary data already collected for existing users (CRM data). Besides the models on which an orchestrated marketing approach is based, this data is key in achieving a differentiation in the market. This is due to the fact that both things are difficult for others to imitate.
Another domain which still offers significant differentiation potential for advertisers is the concept of influencer marketing, which has emerged over the last two to three years. As another minimally invasive approach to advertising, influencer marketing complements other subtle marketing strategies like content marketing.
Due to their own reach, in some cases encompassing millions of users, influencers are increasingly gaining in importance within the marketing mix. Influencer marketing offers very good possibilities in terms of brand building and storytelling, while providing access to different target groups.
Customer Acquisition via Marketplaces
An often neglected channel, especially for companies which offer physical goods is customer acquisition through marketplaces like Amazon, eBay and the like. Using existing marketplaces as additional distribution channels offers a couple of advantages. With a reach within the seven-figure range, they offer a huge, inexpensive and even international audience. Marketers can reduce costs incurred by generating reach on their own. Marketplaces enable fast and wide product placement. This is hard to obtain through direct sales.
Established marketplaces represent an easily accessible and cost-effective distribution and marketing channel. On a global scale, however, this development entails a shift of technological know-how towards these marketplaces.
Florian Heinemann is a founding partner at Berlin-based venture capital fund Project A Ventures, where he is responsible for the areas of CRM / performance marketing, business intelligence and communications. Before co-founding Project A, he was managing director of Rocket Internet.
Dorothee Seedorf is director of performance marketing at Project A Ventures, leading the online marketing team and decisively influencing the marketing of its portfolio companies.