I would have written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time.
This quote attributed to many different sources sums up what we are now facing in this very complex world.
Distilling the noise and confusion into clarity. Creating messaging and content that makes sense in one sentence, 140 characters or even a six second video.
That is an art form to be admired.
But as marketers that is what you are confronted with.
And keeping it simple and short takes time and effort.
It is just one of the trends that will impact your business in the years ahead.
We also need the right tools, platforms and technology to help us manage and make sense of the huge amounts of data and noise that overwhelm us online.
So….here are 7 digital marketing trends that you need to keep your eye on.
1. Increasing complexity
Tech is largely to blame for making marketing complex. But it’s also the answer. Making sense of tons of data, always on marketing and the many forms of splintered media is something tech platforms do well.
Right alongside that sits different categories of complex. Facebook advertising is a discipline on its own that requires focus. Then add the dark science of “Search Engine Optimisation” and understanding the many moving parts that require mastery.
The types of media we need to master includes live streaming, Facebook videos and GIFS and Infographics. Then you need to master marketing automation and artificial intelligence tools and platforms.
2. Marketing technology
Marketing technology (sometimes called Martech) is continuing to grow. According to Venture Beat there has been over $134 billion invested in this category in startups in just 5 years. In 2018 IDC is predicting that CMO’s will spend $32 billion on buying and implementing Martech solutions.
But the category has 3 core categories. B2B marketing, B2C marketing and advertising technology. It should not be seen as one size fits all.
According to Ajay Agarwal in an article on TechCrunch there is an interesting divide between spending on marketing versus sales between B2B and B2C. B2B companies spend much more on their front end sales than on marketing at a ratio of 10:1. B2C spends a lot more on marketing than sales with an inverse ratio of 10:1.
Maybe we will expect to see Salesforce dominate B2B marketing tech as it is the dominant sales tool for B2B globally.
He sees the key trend and opportunity as one in which a B2C marketing company can create a B2C system of record from the start of the customer journey to sale.
3. The rise and rise of algorithms
The beauty at the the birth of social media networks was their simplicity. They flowed past you unfiltered.
Twitter was a distilled stream of unfettered consciousness. Facebook was a flowing page of diverse ideas and people. And some sat outside your tent of ideas and interests.
But things have changed.
The need to make money from the platforms meant that algorithms needed to be programmed to ensure that the social networks could start to monetise their distribution. The organic reach that initially excited marketers, writers and entrepreneurs has been dialled back.
Also the volume of data has also exploded in the last 10 years driven by the two obsessive technologies of social media and smartphones. To make sense of that as finite humans means we need help from the machines. And they run on algorithms.
Why do we need algorithms?
The amount of data that confronts us each day needs filters to help us make sense of it. Here is the global digital snapshot of the size of the ecosystem that confronts us.
These platforms, devices and networks are producing this avalanche of data.
- 5.97 billion hours of YouTube are watched every day
- 4.3 billion Facebook messages are posted each day
- 67 million images posted on Instagram every 24 hours
- 269 billion emails are sent 24/7 each day
How algorithms are applied
Algorithms also help marketers and entrepreneurs break through the clutter. And they are used to reach your target markets on Amazon, Tripadvisor, search engines and even in email marketing .
- Amazon – products or books you might like based on past activity and other secret codes.
- Search – Content and information you want to find.
- Social – People you want to hear from or see.
- Emails – Gmail now uses an algorithm that sorts it into tabs and also sends it automatically to spam based on its filters.
- GPS – Help us navigate a city or find our way to a hotel.
- Choose a restaurant – Reviews on Yelp or on Tripadvisor.
So we need to keep studying how they work and learn to work with them as they continue to change and shape shift.
4. Platforms and apps
The web is moving away from an Internet of websites to an Internet of apps and platforms. You may not have noticed it but it is happening right before our eyes. In 2014 more people accessed the Internet though mobile apps than desktop computers for the very first time.
In 2017 over 86% of our time is spent on apps on our mobile phones.
This big trend is something that can’t be ignored and marketers are going to need to work out how they reach consumers via apps and platforms. The obvious answer to this in part will be the rise and rise of Facebook advertising from the platform and also applying marketing tactics to apps like Messenger and WhatsApp.
5. Artificial intelligence
There are two things that humans aren’t good at. Collating and making sense of the vast amounts of data and scaling our humanity.
But that is what machines excel at as artificial intelligence amplifies our humanity.
Watson, Einstein and Rank Brain are just three of the big players battling out for world domination in artificial intelligence . Watson is owned by IBM, Einstein by Salesforce and Rank Brain by Google. But underneath these giants who mostly use it for internal use sits a growing range of apps and platforms that are using AI for niche marketing optimization.
Chatbots were maybe the first obvious use of AI for marketing with their abilities to handle initial enquiries without the need for human inervention. But what are some of the other ways AI is being used and imagined for improving marketing performance and scaling?
Robert Allen from CITU lists 15 ways in which AI can be used for marketing.
But let’s take a closer look at just 3 ways you can use artificial intelligence .
An AI program called WordSmith produced 1.5 billion pieces of content in 2016. The other challenge is not just creation but curation of content at scale. An AI tool like Rocco can recommend content from social media that your followers are likely to love.
Pay per click advertising
Making sure that you are making the best use of your budget when performing paid ad campaigns with millions of dollars in spend means AI becomes an attractive option.
Albert and Frank are two marketing platforms that use machine learning to buy media and deliver ads for the best results. And this is done at scale and speed that no human could ever hope to achieve.
Making email smarter instead of a blunt tool for just broadcasting is something that AI can offer. AI can improve the delivery time for achieving the best open rates, target customers with the right emails and even product recommendations that they want to buy.
McKinsey research estimates that Amazon generated 35% of its revenue with email product recommendations driven by AI.
Video continues to emerge as a visual marketing trend that sits in a variety of buckets. For simplicity we can place them in 3 categories. Traditional 30 second ad style, live and social pre-recorded for social.
The traditional 30 second ad style video 20 years ago was typically created 4 times a year with a 2 million dollar budget for each. This continues but the 2 trends that are transforming video today are driven by social media realities of live streaming and 6 second videos.
Live streaming is the hot new trend with Facebook (Facebook Live), LinkedIn, Twitter with Periscope and YouTube with its “Live Events”
According to Globalwebindex.net “As ad-blocking continues to grow in popularity it’s more important than ever for brands to engage consumers via entertaining content and native advertising”
And live streaming is one of those forms of content.
Image source: GlobalWebIndex
But the challenge with any form of video is doing it well.
The 6 second pre-recorded video
According to AdAge, Facebook has already been telling its video advertisers to hit people with faster messages. The 6 second video emerged as an ideal ad length in a recent test conducted with Tropicana.
Tropicana compared the results from Facebook ads that were 6, 15 and 30 seconds long. The shortest saw “higher brand metrics across the board,” Sandberg said.
Companies like Shuttlerock are using technology to scale 6 second Facebook video ad and are riding the wave of what the data is telling us is the most effective length for a video.
But the challenge for all video is still the messaging. Video is now often watched in silence with subtitles running so people can read while viewing.
7. Influencer marketing
The rise of ad blocking means that reaching your audience via influencers is on the rise. A study by PageFair and Adobe shows that online consumers are becoming more and more frustrated with adverts interrupting their browsing experience. As of June 2015, 198 million people used ad-blocking browser extensions.
Today’s consumers prefer to make their purchasing decisions based on either recommendations from friends and family, or from online influencers they admire and trust.
Also the reason influencer marketing trend is becoming entranced is its performance. Just check out these stats on the effectiveness of influencer marketing:
- Businesses earn approximately $6.50 for every $1 they spend on influencer marketing.
- 81% of marketers who have used influencer marketing deemed it to be effective.
- 86% of women turn to social media platforms before making a purchase.
- Influencer marketing delivers 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.
There are also 2 distinct categories of influencer marketing. B2C which is generally about building brand awareness and B2B which often is more about lead generation and measurable results.
Despite all the tech there is a real movement to making our marketing more human. Companies are backing causes. Taking a stand whether it is for equal opportunity, ageism or sexism. Marketers and entrepreneurs are using “live” video to share their ideas and insights.
But the trend that I am enjoying is seeing the rise and application of storytelling being woven back into the digital marketing landscape. It is being used more in blog posts and online presentations. It is being written into emails to stand out from what is often an ocean of bland information and data.
We have been distracted too long by the shiny new tech toys and forgotten some of our humanity in the process.
It’s time to tell better stories.