We’re heading towards Christmas, which is (for most) people associated with joyful memories of snow, presents, family diners and eggnog. Unfortunately not for marketers, for us it’s all about the Q4 activities. Think of campaigns to reach End-of-Year targets, optimizations for Christmas shopping and finalizing the campaign plan for next year. While it’s a busy period I will try to offer some support in looking at digital marketing for 2014 as to what I expect will be the areas to focus on for next year.
Cross channel marketing
We’ve determined that combining campaigns and customer engagement through different channels can add significant value to the outcome. We have even seen several pioneers pull it off. But at this moment the vast majority is still struggling in effectively setting up a cross channel strategy. So what hurdles have to be overcome?
Business challenge: Cross channel marketing requires a certain level of understanding as to what different customer interactions across multiple channels mean. Each channel is interpreted in a different way and it is impossible to copy a campaign from one channel to the other. Without understanding what a specific channel means to the customer and how he wishes to be approached on it, it is pointless to set up a cross-channel strategy.
IT challenge: With the shift to personalised marketing, customer engagement has become more and more complex. Trying to integrate with different marketing channels will definitely not make a campaign setup any easier. This has made marketers become more IT-reliant and requires them to have a platform that enables effective campaign engagement, optimization and tracking within the complex environment.
Imagine an organization, in a mature stage of using digital analytics, which is allocating the 2014 budgets for campaigns and channels. One of the key questions that keeps popping up is: How much did a campaign or channel attribute to a conversion?
A customer-journey usually consists of different touchpoints to get to a sale. We can no longer attribute the value of the sale to the final touchpoint. Especially with campaigns in display advertisement that might not instantly convert a customer but add great value in the journey towards the sale.
The biggest challenge in conversion attribution is tracking, specifically offline campaigns. For a digital marketer it has become quite easy to track and attribute value by using cookies, campaign id’s etc. The real challenge lies in making attribution work with offline channels such as Radio, TV, Offline-display and (even more important) the offline stores. I feel we have gone past solutions such as QR-codes (seriously?) and shortend URL’s. We need to be looking at more innovative ways such as NFC, loyalty apps, etc.
One of the most dynamic landscapes in marketing is search marketing. Penguin updates, Panda updates, search marketers need an agile skill set to cope with each new challenge a search engine throws at them. We’ve seen the traditional search engines adopting social media in their algorithm for the past few years, but recently Facebook has upped the ante by introducing Graph Search.
We’ve been seeing social networks expand their search capabilities for a while now which has created a lucrative marketing gap. People are already using graph search, but companies have yet to start fighting for positions in the (seemingly organic) search results. There are no real hurdles in this prediction, it only requires a business to recognise this opportunity and start using it to their advantage. (source: Marc Blinder )
Distributing and standing out with your content has become increasingly difficult. Social media have become both a filter and distribution channel for a lot of content, which puts more emphasis on the quality of a content piece. Although content marketing is (nor should be) no new topic it will become even more important to focus on in 2014.
For the quality it will be essential to asses if the content will fit the need of your audience. Media such as video and images will be adding more authenticity to your content, eventually improving the expected outcome. Do associate the different types of content with the right distribution channels. The way a customer prefers to be approached on a specific channel can differ from what you’d expect. Especially on social media these considerations can make or break a content campaign.
By the looks of it we are heading towards a year where a lot of existing topics will be playing a bigger role in the marketing strategy of a company. Campaigns and specifically propositions will have to become more customer-centric. Accompanied by the ability to track the contribution of each campaign and the challenge to combine offline channels with digital. It will definitely put more emphasis on the supporting role IT is playing within the marketing strategy.
I hope this will give you some more insights on what to focus on for 2014. Will this be the same for your company? Do share your thoughts in the comments!
In the meantime all the best in finishing up Q4 with a success!