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This article was published on January 27, 2017

5 digital marketing trends that will disrupt your business

5 digital marketing trends that will disrupt your business
JT Ripton
Story by

JT Ripton

Peter Scott is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years. And JT Ripton Peter Scott is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years. And JT Ripton is a business consultant and a freelance writer.

The gloves have come off and marketers now are playing for keeps.

Right now, it’s the best of times and the worst of times for business marketing.

On one hand, there are unprecedented opportunities for reaching potential customers with precisely segmented messages, quantifying the impact of marketing campaigns, and understanding customers through a vast stream of data. On the other hand, every business is in the same game, consumers are savvier and wearier of marketing tactics, and tools such as automation and analytics challenge businesses to keep up with the competition as much as they offer a competitive advantage.

Businesses must have advanced, nuanced marketing efforts or the game is lost to others who do use these tactics.

Marketing strategies such as social media outreach, search engine marketing, and web site pop-ups are yesterday’s trends. Every business does those now. Here’s the next frontier:

1. Advanced marketing automation

Cutting through the clutter and closing the sale requires increasingly sophisticated marketing campaigns that develop through several touchpoints and build engagement over time.
Roughly two thirds of best-in-class companies use marketing automation for managing this customer journey, according to Aberdeen research.

Formerly a technology only available to enterprises with deep pockets and considerable know-how, businesses of all sizes are now developing complex and sustained customer nurturing with marketing automation.
Agile CRM, for instance, offers an all-in-one CRM that includes the advanced marketing automation features used by enterprise systems but at an SBM price point and with extensive on-boarding to get small businesses started. Even single-employee businesses can now initiate complex marketing campaigns easily.

2. Data-driven marketing campaigns

We’re in the age of big data and real-time analytics. Businesses that want the edge now need marketers that think more like data scientists and build their campaigns around customer analytics and real-time data. Hunches and lazy due diligence no longer have a place.

As Lily Croll, strategy director for digital marketing agency Wire Stone states,

Historically, marketers viewed data as something static and tied to reporting. But data is now more dynamic, accessible, and broadly understood. This will open up new opportunities for messaging optimization – but, more importantly, this access to data will challenge marketers to become more nimble and responsive.

Roughly 64 percent of US-based senior executives surveyed by Insights Reports said that data-driven marketing is crucial for success in this hyper-competitive global economy. This doesn’t mean big data per se, but it does mean leveraging the numbers for advanced segmentation, automated A/B testing, marketing campaign strategy, and better customer understanding.

3. Crowd-sourced brand content

In a world where consumers are suspicious of marketing messages and the need for branded content on social media is endless, the marketing focus now is shifting from generating branded content to supporting crowd-sourced content that ties in brands organically.

This is no more evident than on YouTube, where Onalytica research found that 99 percent of content that mentions brands was generated by customers themselves.

Matt Gibbs, co-founder and chief marketing officer for social marketing firm UPshow, predicts,

Customer generated content is going to shift from a consumer trend to a key marketing focus. The days where a business’ own social media posts have an impact are fading, and now it’s all about inspiring as much Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat content from customers as possible.

4. Serious influencer marketing

Content marketing still is king; Smart Insights research found that content marketing is viewed as the digital marketing activity with the greatest commercial impact in 2016, with 22 percent of businesses saying it is most important (the second most important elements were marketing automation and big data, unsurprisingly). Without effective distribution, however, content marketing is just noise.

That’s where influencers come into play. As marketing guru, Jeff Bullas says, 

Online influencers and niche bloggers now offer this for brands to reach targeted global audiences. They offer not only global reach but credibility and trust. Companies are now willing to pay for that attention.

Bloggers with big followings realize this, and promoting company content through influencer marketing has now become big business and a leading marketing tactic that separates successful marketing from the rest.

A full 85 percent of bloggers will take money for writing blog posts that specifically benefit a brand, according to research by influencer marketing firm, GroupHigh, and many influencers now expect it. Independent and respected bloggers are now important links in the content marketing chain.

5. Global marketing for all

Competition is global, but so are potential customers.

Marketing to customers in only one country is becoming increasingly obsolete, and businesses serious about growth are tailoring their marketing campaigns and web site landing pages accordingly – even if they don’t have plans for total world domination.

One-size-fits-all is out and country-specific e-mail blasts, calls to action, and landing pages are in. This means country-specific content, localization of top-performing content, local phone numbers through the magic of VoIP, adjusted time zone, language, and currency elements on all marketing collateral.

Businesses also must think more globally by localizing their offerings.

Business and brand strategist, Martin Roll advises,

Successful global brands are managed by balancing consistent brand guardrails with the freedom to adapt to leverage local growth opportunities. Without the freedom to adapt to local needs and leverage emerging opportunities, brands risk becoming obsolete and irrelevant.

The marketing game is changing, and it is pulling businesses along with it. From the need to automate and take a data-driven approach, to relying on consumers for brand awareness, businesses are faced with the stark choice of evolving or being disrupted. The new face of marketing is a harsh but rewarding place where only the nimble survive.

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