In the past five years, digital marketing has exploded. A day does not go by where a start-up is conceived, a new platform is released, or two companies merge their technologies to better serve their clients. The digital space is exponentially growing and creating new ideas to help companies solve complex problems. As a marketer, digital marketing can be exhausting, confusing and leave you asking yourself, “where do I begin?” In my opinion, the best way to evaluate these vendors is by aligning your top three strategic objectives to the top trends in digital marketing to narrow down your pick-list.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 360i Client Summit in NYC where I was able to listen to brands discuss the current state of digital marketing within the context of their company. In watching these presentations, the common thread to success is that brands are using digital platforms to listen to their customers, learn their habits and quirks, and be there for them when the customer needs them the most. Each one of these trends allows brands to digitally enhance the connection they have with their customer, ultimately creating a strong emotional connection to the brand, growing loyalty and increasing profit.
Here are the top three trends in digital marketing, as told by the brands presenting at the 360i Client Summit:
1. Data-driven storytelling – Marketers are beginning to find new ways to take what data they have and craft a personalized story unique to each prospect. Instead of sending generic or slightly personalized content, marketers are digging deep into their data insights to form a narrative engaging with the right person, on the right device at the moment they care. Ellen Stone, EVP Marketing at Bravo and Oxygen Media, further explained how storytelling can be used with transmedia to evolve or shape the story. For example, on their show Top Chef, they drive consumers from TV to digital as a way to vote back on their favorite chef who was eliminated, thus using digital as a means to shape their TV show.
2. The use of APIs – I like to think of an API as a bridge that allows two disparate pieces of technology to communicate in the same language. Marina MacDonald, CMO of Red Roof Inn, noticed a huge opportunity for weather related flight cancellations. When a flight was cancelled, consumers were turning to their smartphones to book a near-by hotel. Red Roof Inn created an API with weather-data and local flight cancellations to place higher bids in search engines in areas where flights were cancelled due to weather. Consumers saw them at the top of the search engine and Red Roof Inn was only paying a fraction of the cost in media spend. This directly resulted in at 375% conversion rate and a 60% lift in bookings simply because platforms were communicating more effectively with each other.
3. Brands are publishers – More than ever, brands have a strong ability to control how they are represented in the public eye. Whether it is digital, social, ecommerce, search, display, or marketing automation, marketers are publishers. In a presentation by The Huffington Post, it was mentioned that we have “60X more content from brands in our newsfeeds today than just 2 years ago.” Brands are beginning to recognize significant value in producing informative, timely and educational content for their target audience. This thought-leadership positions the brand as an expert on the topic, while continuing to deepen the relationship with their customer in a way where the brand can narrative extremely personalized and relevant content to their customers.