When it comes to marketing to and engaging today’s consumers, tactics have changed. The general populous is spending more time in online channels than ever before — and realistically, that’s likely to continue. The fact is, online activities have become easier, faster and more convenient. As well, the Millennial generation — and those that come after — have been brought up in a highly digital world and are forcing businesses to reassess and adapt marketing strategies to compete successfully. Bottom line, you have to go where consumers live and these days they’re comfortably residing in cyberspace. In fact, eMarketer predicts that mobile will account for 72% of digital ad spend by 2019.
Yet, it isn’t enough to just meet consumers in their preferred environment. You also need to understand them and their behaviors, and anticipate their needs. The more information you can tap into, the better you’re able to create effective digital marketing and advertising campaigns — ones that make relevant, timely offers, perform well, and promote brand recognition and continued loyalty. Competition is fierce, so every leg up can equate to more dollars earned.
The right audiences are paramount to your digital marketing success. Targeting ideal prospects with the highest likelihood of responding and acting can help ensure you don’t waste marketing spend on those not quite ready. Here’s where understanding consumer behavior over time becomes critical. To gain a clearer, more comprehensive consumer picture, you need accurate, reliable, trended data derived from primary sources and linked to online users with a high degree of confidence. Utilizing consumer finance-related data gives you insights into activity within a variety of business lines and products, so your marketing can get very segmented and specific. When you consider past and current behavior and preferences, and incorporate personal attributes and algorithms that can predict future behavior, your audiences become more precise and you have a better chance of influencing them.
Digital strategies overall are more cost-effective and easier to gauge results. Obviously email marketing presents a great value and can be easily tracked. Beyond that, knowing where consumers frequent online helps you more readily reach them. It’s a higher probability over mailing collateral that may never be received or seen, or placing an ad in a print publication which may be missed. According to eMarketer, 2.34 billion people — about one-third of the earth’s population — regularly use social media platforms. That alone offers a pretty obvious, consumer-saturated avenue. As consumers engage with your offer, you know in real time who’s responding, and you can amend strategies to improve methods or messages that may not be hitting the mark.
And the beauty of online ads is even if they don’t drive an immediate “click”, if personal value is found in the offer, they can prompt more immediate action or at least contemplation by consumers. Personalization and understanding the customer journey is also key in digital marketing plans. Speaking directly to the user about things, products or services that strike a chord at the right time have a greater chance of resonating. It also promotes loyalty when consumers believe you’ve taken time to genuinely understand where they are and what they need or want. And if you can present something they maybe hadn’t considered but can use, even better. According to Unlockd, 85% of mobile advertisers think they’re providing a positive experience; only 47% of users agree. So going the extra mile in really knowing consumers is a big plus.
Here’s the interesting catch… through the evolution of AI — which is expected to be further embraced in digital marketing — you’ll actually get information directly from consumers themselves. Soon we’ll go beyond gathering and tracking site usage, browsing patterns, search history and content preferences, and machine learning and behavioral marketing software will play a greater role in analyzing data to build segments, and running/adjusting campaigns to continually create content customized to personas. Insights will be received directly through consumer actions — and what’s more reliable than data coming straight from the consumer’s mouth?
For now, digital marketing is the smart, cost-efficient play. And whether you’re a large or small business, if you don’t entertain a strategy, you may find yourself way behind the eight ball. Marketing is poised to become more analytical and encompass a broader variety of mediums which should prove very interesting, exciting and dynamic. Of course, trends ultimately depend upon new technologies, platforms and preferences — but consumers have spoken, and in order to continue an appealing, two-sided conversation that evokes action, you need to be ready to pivot.